Minimalism is not about deprivation - A Guest Blog by The Do Something Project
MINIMALIST GUEST BLOG
Hello Friends! It's an exciting new year with many hopeful beginnings for our Minimalist Journey. I'm honored to have Cat from The Do Something Project on my blog as a special guest to share her Minimalist and Eco-friendly Journey with us. She will also leave us with some meaningful and helpful tips plus encouragements on practicing Minimalism. Cat is a talented professional whose blogs are well researched and written. She's personable, relatable and her approach to Minimalism is a pleasure to follow along and become a part of her community.
Meet Cat from The Do Something Project
Hi! My name is Cat. I came into minimalism after a car accident the day after Christmas many years ago. I left unscathed, but my car which I had bought brand new after college and which I painstakingly paid off a few months early was completely totaled. Minimalism didn’t happen right away. Minimalism for me was a very slow process. A lot of contemplation happened after that day, thoughts about things, about what we work for, about what we give up, about what’s important. For many years, these were just thoughts in my head, then at some point I had the urge to act and I started purging.
It started out with clothing. As a young adult working in New York City, I had tons of clothes, a good majority barely used, some with tags on them. So I started with those. I returned or sold anything that still had a tag on them. I put all of this money into a separate savings account to be used later. It was in a sense, a windfall.
Next came the books. Lots of them. Many from my undergrad and grad years. I guess I had hoped I would reference them some day, but they were obsolete by the time I go to them so they were donated. The rest were just books collected over time. It took some years to finally cull them down to one box.
After came some emotional and mental purging. Not the best time, but time that was needed.
I feel like I’ve been practicing minimalism for years now. I agree with Chi at ChiBeingChi.com that minimalism is a practice. Living outside of the conventional norm requires repeated, consistent actions. We are constantly being pushed towards the main stream of consumption that some days it feels like we are swimming against the current. For many of us, we’ve lived the way we’ve lived for many years. These thoughts, actions, habits and mindsets take time to change. I arrived at this minimalist life first. With less physical, mental and emotional clutter, I found myself wanting to live a more eco-friendly life so here I am practicing a minimalist and eco-friendly life and moving away from 30 years of ingrained behavior.
So if you are new to minimalism or eco-friendly living and wondering what it’s really about, here are 5 things that may help you understand the lifestyle a bit more. These are meant to tackle some of the preconceptions that may come to your mind when you think of minimalism and eco-friendly living. If you are on the journey, keep going.
It’s Not About White Walls
Don’t let Instagram fool you. While minimalism is sometimes typically portrayed as clean, white and simplistic, minimalism is more than just an aesthetic. Sure it’s nice. Sure we all wish we lived in a clutter free home. Truth be told, that’s not how life is. Life is messy, BUT living a more minimalistic life can lead to more space. Space free of things. Space in the calendar for yourself. Space to start something new. So while the white walls may become prominent, it’s what you fill them with that will matter in the end.
It’s Not About Deprivation
In all fairness, there’s a good amount of things that one does give up when following a minimalist and eco-friendly lifestyle. A lot of it is from convenience items and impulse buys, but as you will learn from practice, by focusing on things that you value, you stop feeling like you are missing out. The days of #FOMO may remain, but they won’t be as significant when you focus and enjoy what you have.
Minimalism is finding and focusing on what you value. When that happens, everything else fades and no longer becomes necessary. It’s like using the focus on your camera, at some point, the background and parts of the foreground will blur out allowing you to focus on the people, experiences and things that bring you joy.
It’s Not About How Small the Jar
Living an eco-friendly life is sometimes portrayed as “all of the trash you can fit in a jar.” Well, I can tell you that I cannot fit all of my trash in a jar. We don’t live in an economy that promotes circular use so trash happens, but each day of practice means geting better at refusing things that are not needed, at reducing consumption and reusing what’s available. Some days are better than others. Once you start towards a more eco-friendly lifestyle, you start seeing the world differently which in turn changes your thoughts, your words and eventually your actions. So while others may be able to fit their trash in a jar, know and understand that for many of us, this is an ideal. Our varying backgrounds, resources, family structure, and environments will affect how we take on an eco-friendly lifestyle. Don’t let these variables stop you. Do what you can and in the end, you will have made a difference.
It’s Not About The Label
Whether you are labeled as New Age, Hippie, Eco-Warrior, Eco-Minimalist, etc., we are all by default environmentalists. We ALL benefit from a healthy environment! So it sounds to reason that we should care about how we consume and how that consumption affects our well being, the well being of others and the well being of our planet. Yes, a label sometimes makes it easier to help us identify ourselves with others, but understand that what we are all doing is complex and requires a lot of explanation that a one word label and all of its assumptions cannot provide.
When I describe that I’m now living a minimalist and eco-friendly life, the first thing people will say to me is “I couldn’t do that.” Well, friends, I’m here to tell you that you can, but your journey will be different. See nothing is impossible as long as we believe in what we are doing and are open to trying it out. Don’t rush to judge what you are capable of until you start doing it. It takes one habit change, one new thought to make a change.
Over at The Do Something Project, I encourage my readers to take on a new project each month. The goal of the project is to try something new for 30 days. Whether it’s decluttering every day for a month or giving up plastic for a month, the goal of each project is to get people to start thinking differently. By the end of the month, people will have exposed themselves to so many different ways of thinking and doing. Some habits will stay on, some will make you question future actions, but in the end, it’s about trying it out. 30 days seems long, but relative to the year, it’s a drop in the bucket. So I urge you to take minimalism out for a spin. Find your space and then find your purpose in that space.
Connect with Cat at The Do Something Project
Catherine "Cat" Agopcan is the sole creator of www.thedosomethingproject.com, a blog dedicated to a well lived life full of adventure and good health by following the tenets of minimalism and eco-friendly living. Prior to this venture, she was a program manager in adtech and continues to provide technical and marketing consulting services.