Ever since I was little, I have always been massively effected by my environment. I thrive when things are clean, quiet and calm. Borderline OCD? Perhaps. But I think many of us are hyper sensitive to our environment whether we realise it or not.
Having control of my surrounding space gives me a sense of control within myself. Often when I am feeling low or anxious, I like to re-organise my draws, clean the apartment, dust off my book collection (nerd) or gather items to donate.
I have always been fascinated by minimalism. I grew up in a house where walls were covered in mismatching pictures frames, finger paintings and wild canvas art. Our house was always clean, but always messy. I grew up with brothers and for the start of our lives we lived in a small three bedroom townhouse in Central London – we had a lot of things and very little space. But it was homey.
I remember going to friends houses as a kid and the place would look like a show room. There were rooms we couldn’t play in and sofas we couldn’t sit on. I always thought that was the strangest things and promised myself my house would always be a home like the one my parents gave us.
Once I moved away from home and into our two bedroom apartment we did our upmost to make the space a ‘home’. Picture frames and ornaments, book collections and plants, art supplies sprinkled everywhere and a fridge so packed full of colour and memories you would knock something off every time you went to get some milk.
Don’t get me wrong – it looked wonderful! It was ours. Full of our things and our special memories. But. There was a lot of OTHER STUFF too. Clothes, bags, old sports gear, rugby kit, shoes (a lot of shoes), skin care testers, lists, scribbled notebooks that were well finished, broken bits of ‘something’ that we said we would return or put back together ‘eventually’ – anyway, the list goes on.
And I didn’t realise this until living the last week away from all those things. Most of our stuff is now sat in storage boxes and we get ready to ship them to Auckland.
I am starting to wonder, am I happier with less ’stuff’?
I have always found meaning in ‘things’. Saying I ‘hoard’ items would be a little extreme, everything I do keep is neatly organised and styled into the space. And I love to donate! And I promise I haven’t been collecting newspapers since 96’, nor am I storing cereal boxes in my wardrobes. But having time away from my ‘things’, has made me think a little deeper into why I need that scented candle in all three scents,or why it is a must to have an abundance of decorative cushions on every soft surface of our apartment..
Even if our things are neatly organised and stylish and cool – are they still cluttering our mental space?
I did a little more digging into Minimalist thinking and ways of living. Turns out you can take a Minimal approach to more than just the items in your home.
Here are some cool things I found out..
Choose quality over quantity. This can be done in all areas of your life. People, possessions, thoughts. Even digitally! Go through your instagram and unfollow accounts that don’t feed your mind or make you feel good. You don’t need to be following a million people. Make sure that what rolls up on your feed is giving you something meaningful and adds value to your day.
This also goes for the people in your life. Focus on those closest to you and water those friendships and relationships, rather than spreading yourself thin, if you do this you’ll only end up giving half of what you are capable of to the ones who deserve your full love and attention.
Discipline your damn self. Think twice before you buy that top in another colour, and do you really need that photo frame when you don’t have any photos to fill it with yet? Practise Gratitude for what you ALREADY have. Next time, before you click click away online shopping, have a look through your wardrobe or space. Often when I do this I realise I have a lot more options than I think and a new item would only add to the frustration of trying to pick something out or fill a perfectly fine space. You want to simplify your choices, this leads to making decisions stress-free! And besides, I can’t be the only one who wears the same three tops and that comfy old bra on rotation right?
Before you buy, ask yourself do I lOvE it? Give yourself a period of time before you press purchase. Sleep on your purchases and see if you wake up and still want it! There are many factors that cause us to impulse buy, or feel the need to surround ourself with things.
We live in a culture where advertisements are quite literally shoved at us left right and centre. Not to mention if you so much as utter ‘I need a new throw’ the next thing you know your social media is flooded with every damn blanket you could imagine (please leave us along weird Siri). But you get the picture! We live in a huge CONSUMER world, don’t be like the rest of them. Be happy with what you have and make the very most of it before you need something new!
Why live in a space full of things you ‘might’ need? Clear your space so that you are surrounded by the things you use all the time and that are the MOST special to you. In the words of the organising queen Marie Kondo “Does it spark joy?” You don’t want to have to stress to find something, or wade through your closet to find that one top or up-tip a basket of crap just to find some batteries. No sister.
When your space is cluttered (even the space you can’t see, like that ‘a little bit of everything’ draw that is hidden away but stresses you out every time you open it) – your mind is cluttered! We are living in a time where things are feeling a little out of our control, instead of worrying about this – look inward and focus on what you can control.
You can control your space.
You can control your possessions.
You can control what to do with the both of them.
Learn to take care of the smaller things, and the bigger things will take care of themselves.
Stay safe and healthy.