Simplicity in a Stressed Out World
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” – Leonardo Da Vinci
In an increasingly complex and noisy world, we as a culture have not lost our desire for simplicity. As evidenced by the popularity of the minimalist lifestyle, capsule wardrobes, and Marie Kondo’s provocative book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” the appeal of simple calls out to us like specters from our past. Deep down, we sense that we weren’t made for more “busy,” more noise, more crazy. We long for the simple, the quiet, the plain. But how do we find it? How do we make it happen in our own lives?
There’s no one right answer, but everyone can find at least one way to simplify their lifestyle, even if it just means cleaning out the infamous kitchen junk drawer.
What is Minimalism?
According to theminimalists.com, “Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from overwhelm. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from depression. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom.”
Minimalism is a streamlined lifestyle that pares down to only the essentials in all or a combination of the following areas: clothing, belongings, housing, transportation and commitments. In all, it’s a pursuit of less which reduces stress and anxiety, and frees up more time to focus on what’s truly important in life.
Maybe converting to a whole new lifestyle is a bit daunting. Perhaps just focusing on your closet is more doable. There’s no shortage of capsule wardrobe converts on the internet, so there’s no one right way to create your own mini-wardrobe. Depending on where you live and what type of job you have, those needs can greatly vary.
So what is this mystical creation? It’s really not all that mystical.
A capsule wardrobe is a pared-down wardrobe that centers around a multipurpose, mix-and-match pieces that are functional, stylish, and hold up well to daily wear. While most of us actually rotate between the same few outfits already, there’s a lot of fear in cutting the ties and paring down our wardrobe to the bones. But consider the benefits. A pared-down wardrobe can speed up decision-making in the morning, help you make more economical purchases, clear out a cluttered closet, and put the focus on functionality rather than consumerism. If you’re thinking about making the jump, first start by paring down your existing closet, especially if you haven’t done that in a while. Take into account the seasons, where you live, and the type of functions you most often frequent. Make your selections around a neutral palette (browns/tans, grays/blacks/whites) and add in one pop of color, so that items can be quickly matched with other items.
If you still need more convincing, there’s no shortage of resources to gain tips and insight. Odd that for a concept that promotes paring down belongings, there’s no shortage of books on the very topic.
First the aforementioned “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” This quick read does offer some good nuggets on organizing and perspectives on belongings, but be aware that Kondo takes a heavy-handed approach toward paring down and storing away certain items every day. The spiritual aspects of house and belongings is also very prevalent throughout the book, which may or may not be a turn off for some readers.
Another option is Tim McKeown’s “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less,” which introduces the perspective of clearing away non-essentials, so more time can be focused on what’s truly important. McKeown takes a three-step approach toward focusing on the essentials in life: explore, eliminate, and execute. The book advocates more of a mindset change toward reader’s existing commitments and belongings, which helps to clarify what stays and what goes. The content is great for individuals and organizations.
Ways to Simplify Your Life Today
- Choose one drawer or shelf in the kitchen or office to declutter
- Pull out 5-10 books you’ve never read/only read once and donate/sell them
- Recycle the extra grocery bags cluttering your pantry
- Throw out expired sauces, oils, or spices in your spice cabinet
- Get rid of mostly used/expired bottles of lotion, bug spray, sunscreen, shampoo, or body wash
Those who choose to integrate minimalistic ways into their lifestyle do so for a variety of reasons. Some may do it for more spiritual reasons, some are forced to because of downsizing or a move. Some may do it to purely challenge themselves, while some do it regain a measure of sanity. Whatever your reasons for seeking more simplicity in your life, be encouraged that less really is more.