Minimalism: how and where to start? Some effective suggestions

So after reading the first two published articles, are you still interested in minimizing the amount of personal goods? Do you want to make use of the potential benefits of this minimalist life? Good to hear, you made a wise choice! Below is presented a selection of the most effective tips described in Goodbye Things.


First steps

  • Don’t be too hard on yourself: it can be quite hard to throw away specific things, for instance books. People attach emotional value to those. Don’t throw them away if it doesn’t give you a good feeling.
  • Take your time: it is highly recommended by Sasaki to throw away your belongings stepwise, take the time. That will make saying goodbye to your stuff less hard.
  • Begin easy: start with throwing away the things which you forgot you had. And the ones which you didn’t use the last year, things which have no function and those which has no emotional value for you at all.
  • Give this process top priority: many people say they don’t have time to put much effort in throwing away things. However it is the other way around: they don’t have time because of the presence of things. Those require cleaning and maintenance. And a good salary (many work hours) to keep up with this materialist lifestyle. Sasaki suggests to give high priority to break this circle (or: ‘chicken-and-egg story’). You see you will get more time to tide up your house and spend time with friends.
  • Don’t regret throwing away things: almost everything is buyable on the internet again.
  • Inform your social environment: it could work as an incentive when friends and family know that your minimizing. So they can check on you if you really make progress.
  • Forget ‘maybe I need it one day’: this excuse doesn’t count because in most of the cases you won’t use it one day. And as stated above, you can buy almost everything these days again on internet.
  • Apply the ‘one-in-one-out-rule’: for example if you want to buy a new coat, first throw away an old coat.
  • Digitize as much as you can: like manuals, photos, books. As a result you don’t need to keep a paper version. You can use an e-reader as a substitute for all your books, and a streaming service for all your music and video entertainment.

Social aspects

  • Don’t be ashamed of your minimalist house: first it would be a bit awkward when you invite new people in your empty and small house. But if you tell them about your lifestyle, everybody will understand your motives. And do you really need all the cooking tools for just the few fancy meals a year you want to make for those people? Is that worth it? Sasaki proposes to take your guests to a restaurant instead. You can pay with the money you saved from not buying cooking tools.
  • You don’t lose your identity when get rid of your personal belongings: on contrary, you distinguish yourself from others by living a minimalistic life. This particular lifestyle, despite Kondo’s popularity, is still uncommon. Your identity is formed by your experiences. Possessing goods is just a façade and doesn’t say much about your personal identity. Everybody can buy things.

Spatial aspects

  • Use the city like it’s your home: when you live in a small house, the library is your reading room. Cafes and restaurants are your dining room, parks your garden and the shops your storage space. As a nice extra, being outside and away from home is good for your health, social contacts and social cohesion in the neighbourhood.
  • Leave unused space open: during the minimizing process you will create more empty, open space in your house. Don’t use those empty spaces for other purposes, leave them unoccupied.
  • Rent things instead of buying them: especially things which you only need once or occasionally like specific tools. There are many sharing platforms on the internet, or just borrow them from your – still – materialistic neighbour ?

The road to become a minimalist
As you can see, the road to minimalism doesn’t have to be a bumpy ride. Take the time and don’t be too strict to yourself. Personally speaking, I will never throw away some books which inspires deeply. They formed partly my identity. So I don’t agree on al aspects with Fumio Sasaki. However, in a broader sense I think Sasaki’s ideas could be helpful when you want to change your life. To a more fulfilling, social and less stressful experience. In these modern times many people could use that.

Photo by Isaac Benhesed on Unsplash

// By Edo van Baars

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