“Simplicity is the peak of civilization.” – Jessie Sampter
A few days ago Naomi Seldin posted about going through her last 2 boxes of stuff, thereby finishing the process of uncluttering her life.
If you go there you’ll see I left a comment. Essentially, what I wanted to say was that just because she still has stuff (more than 100 things) doesn’t mean she is not a minimalist.
Note: none of this is not a knock on Naomi. She’s great! Her thoughts simply spurred these thoughts. :)
This is the part of Naomi’s article I’m referring to:
I still don’t consider myself a minimalist. I got rid of so much crap, but I still own about 100 books, 20 pairs of earrings and scores of CDs. I’m living lighter, but I’m also happy, and more appreciative, about what I chose to keep.
Minimalism is not about a number. Naomi and I had a brief e-mail discussion afterwards and she simply likes the numbers. It makes things tangible.
I completely understand.
But you know what’s more important than a number? “I’m living lighter, but I’m also happy, and more appreciative, about what I chose to keep.”
That is what minimalism is about. Pare down your belongings until you’re happy and appreciate of what you have. If something has no value to you and you keep it, you’re cluttering your physical and mental space with it. That is consumerism not minimalism.
There’s also the problem of determining what actually has value and what we simply think has value, but that’s a discussion for another day.
I’ve never counted my things. I don’t care. I have enough. If I decide I need more I’ll have more. If I decide I need less I’ll have less. If I had to guess, I probably have around 200 things. Guess I’m not a minimalist. :)
Quick mental count of just my guitar: guitar, case, extra set of strings, capo, 2 picks. 6 things already!
Bike stuff: bike, pump, allen wrench tool, lock, arm band light. 5 more things!
Toiletries: tooth brush, toothpaste (stopped using Bronner’s!), floss, Bronner’s, comb, deodorant, vitamin e oil (dry skin!), anti-itch cream (dry skin!), q tips. 9 more things!
Already at 20 things and we’re not even close to finished.
To get my life down to 100 would be an incredible hassle and go against living an extraordinary life. I have exactly what I need. Nothing more, nothing less.
What’s important is that my stuff doesn’t bog me down. Not just physically, but also mentally.
The Problem With Setting Arbitrary Limits
Limits are a different way to “keep up with the Joneses.” In the case of minimalism it’s only owning “100 things” or whatever other arbitrary number of things that you didn’t choose.
Remember Life Lesson #42? Define your own rules for success. It’s a lot easier to rule your world than someone else’s world.
My rules for minimalism are simple, and I already stated them, but I’ll do it again: owning exactly what I need, nothing more, nothing less.
The rules are different for you and me. For example, I need a guitar and a bike. If you owned these items maybe they would never be used and they’d waste valuable physical and mental space. I use them almost daily.
If you consider yourself a minimalist I’d like to know how you define your rules …