I haven't always been a minimalist
We all like stuff. New stuff, shiny stuff, the latest stuff, designer stuff. We’ve been programmed into craving more and more stuff— heck there’s a multi-billion marketing industry currently thriving on this very idea.
I can’t say I was always a “minimalist.”
There was a time in my life where buying things could almost be called my hobby. When I felt sad I shopped, when I didn't belong I shopped, when my kids were bored I shopped for them. The promise of shiny new things could solve all my problems, or so I thought. I shopped in an attempt to make myself happy and my kids happy. I shopped in an attempt to create a perfect story book life.
A trip to Sri Lanka changed all that.
My trip to Sri Lanka, which came quickly on the heels of my eye opening Disney trip, was the first time I had traveled outside of the bubble of the western world. My Father who was born in Sri Lanka, immigrated to Australia with his parents when he just a baby. With my Grandparents, Father, Step Mother and Sister we traveled back to Sri Lanka to trace the footsteps of my Grandparents.
We visited Columbo—a bustling city—and traveled up to the mountains to Kandy, my Grandmother’s home. Along the way we drove through many normal everyday villages and through slums as well. But what caught my attention time and time again was just how happy people looked, especially the kids. Often with no more than a cricket bat and battered ball, kids were playing happily together. Or happily standing around with their parents, no glowing screens to be seen. It made me really start to think, do I look this happy? Do my kids look this satisfied? I didn’t feel it, but I was seemingly blessed with so much more. But more what? More stuff. I started to really think, what we really require in order to be happy?
Less stuff more life.
Soon after my Sri Lankan trip, I stumbled upon minimalism. Coincidence? I think not. I was ready for a change, and minimalism fit the bill. I am not sure if it was Joshua Becker, Leo Babauta or Brooke McCallery whom I discovered first, but these three minimalist “experts” all had a big impact on my life’s new direction.
These authors are normal people with families of their own, helping to define a new direction in minimalism, moving away from the stereotype that minimalism is owning only 100 things or living in a tiny house, or being a young hipster and not having kids at all. Along with my Sri Lankan experiences, they inspired me to start on my own minimalist journey.
Since 2012, so much has changed in our home. The first reaction people have when they come is that our living space feels lot bigger, and they can’t really pin point why. Our home still looks lived in, and perhaps not what you would call minimalist, but in comparison to before our living room is extremely minimalistic. With only what we use and love in it, our living room has become a peaceful room where we can sit back and truly relax.
It is not just our home that has transformed. I personally have transformed from a person who constantly wanted more, to a person who has slowly become quite satisfied with what I have. Minimalism is also slowly creeping into other areas of our life too. With less things to look after and tidy up, we are slowly increasing the amount of free time we have - more time for us as a family. I have noticed that packing our schedule full of activities isn't a good idea, and now try to only prioritise one thing a day. Of course this doesn't always happen, but I try my best to keep to this rule - it helps me be more present, instead of looking at my watch wondering when I have to leave.
The idea of minimalism has made me think about what is most important for me. My answer is unequivocally more quality time with family and friends. I am prioritising that now, and especially with my own family. Instilling the motto “collect memories not things” is a big part of how we parent, and when we do bring new things into our house, we ask ourselves - does this fit our motto?
Our family still has a long way to go, it is a journey after all, and really there is no destination to get to. I am enjoying the journey and all the little benefits it brings along the way. Life already seems a lot less complicated, lighter, and more free.
I can truly say that I am finally starting to live my life, instead of chasing the next thing.