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.
Today, I’m pleased to share this contribution from Jason Billows, blogger at Stop & Breathe. Jason tells us how he “accidentally” became a minimalist and how it has made him and his family happier.
An Accidental Minimalist
I used to have lots of stuff. I had work stuff, personal stuff, sport stuff, household stuff, workshop stuff, school stuff – there was an endless amount of stuff. Of course I had to have somewhere to put all of my stuff, so I had a big house.
Over time my stuff started to get heavy, and not just in physical terms. It weighed on my spirit, my conscience, my happiness. The stuff became clutter. It was in the way. Some of my stuff had gone unused for years. I started to feel irresponsible and wasteful. I also started to question my choice of home. One day when cleaning, I realized I was standing in a bedroom that I hadn’t been in for over three months. The sole purpose for the room was to hold stuff I didn’t need. It was excessive.
My stuff and my big home were making me unhappy. I had spent too much time, money and effort trying to keep up with the Jones’ and making choices based on what other people expected of me. It was time for a change.
Three years ago I moved from my big suburban home to a condo apartment in downtown, Ottawa. It was a shock. My condo seemed small and had no room for my stuff, so I started to unload the excess. I donated clothes and furniture to good will, gave sporting goods to friends, sold items online, and recycled those items for which I couldn’t find a home.
It wasn’t easy. I was attached to my stuff. I tried to convince myself that every item had a story, a use, or reason to keep it. But the reality was that most of my stuff had gone unused for months or years. I stuck to my plan and continued to purge.
In time, it not only became easier to let my stuff go, it became cathartic. I felt as if a weight was being lifted off my shoulders. My small condo suddenly seemed spacious and I felt good knowing that my stuff was now with people who needed it and would use it.
Two years ago, I met the woman of my dreams and she moved into the condo with me. We had to let go of even more stuff to make room, but it felt good. And now, with our first child due to arrive in one month’s time, we’re making room by getting rid of even more stuff.
It has certainly been challenging at times, but overall we love our “less is more” approach to life. We’re happier living a life driven by our needs and not by what we can afford. Simply put, living in a smaller space with less stuff is not restrictive, we have actually found it liberating.
Last year a friend commented, “You’re quite the minimalist.” I had never heard the term and had to look it up. Am I a minimalist? Not on purpose. Perhaps I’m an accidental minimalist. I did make changes to my life that could be considered minimalist in nature, but I don’t aspire to be labeled a minimalist. I have simply found more happiness with less.
If you would like to learn more about me, visit my blog at Stop & Breathe, which provides insights, tools and information to help us savor life one breath at a time.