The word “minimalist” often conjures up the phrase “aesthetic goals” in people’s heads. Countless pristine apartments and simple posters pop up when you look up the word, but beyond a certain austere look, minimalism is a lifestyle.
There was a brief moment in early 2016 when Marie Kondo’s book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up was all the rage. She says that you should only keep things in your life that “spark joy.” People immediately jumped onboard because the initial process is simple: hold an item in your house and ask yourself the question, “Does this give me joy?” As straightforward as that is, it still takes a certain level of focus and determination to actually get up, open your closet and do that with all your belongings.
As a stereotypical Virgo, I find joy in cleaning things and keeping things organized. There’s something about it that helps prepare my mindset for the work that needs to be done. One random night, I did exactly that. But there was an itching feeling that I couldn’t quite settle so I moved on to my closet and bookshelves. After four hours, I was left with half of my original belongings and a room that I’m actually happy with.
Being a minimalist doesn’t end after you clear out your wardrobe, though. It’s a constant process of evaluation and decision-making. The point is focusing on your needs and happiness, all the while being aware of your behavior as a consumer and as a person of the earth. It’s a good practice to make space for better things in your life to come in. If you’re thinking about getting started, here are some tips.
Tip 1: Think about what you need, not what you want.
Minimalism is pretty much another term for essentialism. The key is having the minimum of what you need. If you have a good pair of jeans –– one that you will really wear until it goes bad –– then you don’t have to buy another pair just because it’s on sale.
Some people only require 32 pieces of clothing at any given moment. Looking at their template online, they don’t seem that bad. Having limited choices will challenge your creativity. Whether it be changing up your accessories or doing something different to your makeup each time, there’s always something that can be done to look interesting, if that’s what you’re going for.
Tip 2: Just because you need it, doesn’t mean you have to buy it right away.
Because I worked hard on editing my items, I became more conscious of the things I bought. For example, instead of buying flimsy clothing or pre-made furniture just so I have something to use at the moment, I learned that investing in something that you really love and that is substantial is the wiser choice. There’s no point in buying a P4,000 chair if you’re not happy with it. Buy that P17,000 leather computer chair from West Elm if you truly love it. When it comes to shopping for “wants,” I always spend at least an hour (if I’m inside a store) or a week (for online shopping) to mull it over. If I still love it or if I see myself using it until it breaks, then I buy it.
Tip 3: Don’t be hard on yourself.
The road to minimalism doesn’t end as soon as you go on that item detox session. If anything, minimalism is more dependent on the choices you make in the future. For example, I was two months into my minimalism journey when I encountered a problem: I didn’t have anything to wear to #YSProm. I allowed myself to buy new clothes because a) I needed it, b) I didn’t have anything like it and c) I saw myself wearing the dress over and over again. The guilt was at a minimum after the purchase because I knew that I really liked what I bought and at the end of the day that’s what matters.