Hardik Nagar over at thatindianminimalist.wordpress.com made a good point in a comment he made to one of my last posts. He said that our stuff defines us and, as we get rid of it, we make ourselves vulnerable. That really struck me as important.
Minimalism isn’t just about finding ways to be happier with less stuff, it’s about figuring out who you are away from consumption. The same can be said for being green and thrifty. By getting out of debt and freeing yourself from the credit merry-go-round, you are opting out of part of the consumer culture. Paying cash and buying only what you can afford means you consider your purchases more carefully. You get out of the habit of buying for appearance’s sake, or just because something is shiny and new. Becoming more aware of where your purchases come from and what happens to them when you’re done with them makes you pickier about what you spend that cash on as well. You are choosing to put your money towards things that are good for the planet and the people on it instead of whatever new thing comes along.
All of this forces you out of the comfortable box of the blind consumer and into a different place. That of conscious consumer. Your priorities change. Your choices change. If you decide to follow the minimalist path even a little, you start evaluating your true needs and wants. As you rid yourself of stuff, you figure out what makes you truly happy.
It is scary as heck to get rid of things that you’ve held onto for a long time. I have a giant tub full of clothes in the next size down. I just know that someday I’ll fit into them again. It’s been 5 years. I think it’s time to get rid of them. It scares me because it feels like admitting defeat. Who am I if I “admit” that I’m not going to get there anytime soon? What if I finally get there and need them? It makes me feel vulnerable just thinking about getting rid of that stuff.
It’s a necessary step though if I want to get to a place where I am not overwhelmed with all of the accumulated stuff in my life. My house never seems totally clean even when it’s spotless because there’s so much clutter. We just have a lot of stuff. Some of it is necessary and some of it makes me happy but a lot of it is just stuff we’ve somehow managed to collect over the years. I have been giving a lot of thought to this lately and my excuses are getting thin. If I am committed to living greener and thriftier, it makes sense to shed some of my excess possessions. I can sell some and put the money toward my debts. I can donate some and get a tax break. Minimalism can combine with frugality and it’s possible to tackle both at once.