Every Monday I post Real Life Minimalists, a profile of one of my readers in their own words. If you’d like to participate, click here for details. (Note: the schedule is now full until February — but if you don’t mind waiting, feel free to send me your submission!)
Today, we meet Matt Madeiro, who was led to minimalism by somewhat unusual circumstances. To find out how simpler living fits into his overall self-improvement plan, surf on over to his blog, Three New Leaves.
I wish I’d come into minimalism on my own accord. I could have approached it gently, selling things at a slower, more satisfying pace. Yeah. That would have been nice.
But here’s what happened instead: I got robbed.
So minimalism, for me, kicked in during my last semester of college. I came home from class one evening and found my roommate’s shiny new computer monitor sitting by the front door. I thought, for a moment, that he’d decided to move out (huzzah!), but a curious look into my own room destroyed that notion pretty quickly.
My room was a mess. Honestly, it looked like a tornado had swept through, picking up all the clutter and crap and flinging it against the walls. I couldn’t even see the floor beneath all the papers and folders, but I could see this: my monitor was missing, and so was the towering stack of games by my nightstand.
I realized, then, two very important things: that I’d just been robbed, but also that I had way too much stuff. My room was closest to the front door, but it’s no wonder that I got off easy compared to my roommates. How could someone steal anything when I had so much crap covering the floor?
Before that night, I’d lived like so many others in a constant circle of buy, buy, buy. I bought games and movies and toys and stuff by the dozen, hoarding it in a growing mess of boxes at the top of my closet. Sure, I didn’t always use that stuff, but what about that one possible time in the future where I might maybe need them?
It’s a hard mentality to break. I thought I needed those things, back then, and sometimes I still do. But that night — scary as it was — really opened my eyes to a different truth: I don’t need things. My life went on just fine without them, and I’d say it even went a whole heck of a lot happier once I spent the next few weeks selling/donating most of my remaining stuff.
After all, I still have my friends and my family. I still have my health, too, and I’m finding that I have so much more time now for all three of them. Funny what happens when you’re not constantly organizing and cleaning the endless mess, right?
Is it weird to say that getting robbed was one of the best things that has ever happened to me?
I’m a writer/traveler/dork currently blogging about self-improvement over at Three New Leaves. Minimalism is a big part of who I am, now, but I’ve made big changes in other parts of my life, too, and like to write very enthusiastically about what I’ve learned. Who knows? Maybe you’ll pick up a few tips too!