Anyone who has a Netflix subscription knows that it’s one of the best platforms for finding new and interesting documentaries. Last month, along with various new titles added, my husband and I were browsing through what was new we stumbled upon a documentary called Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things. Obviously intrigued, we pushed play and found ourselves having not only been inspired by these two guys, but the film allowed us to reflect on exactly what their title asks: what are the important things in this life?
It was inspirational to see these two guys just leave behind the very things that were slowing them down. They both either left or were let go from their corporate jobs, relationships needed to be reevaluated, and ultimately the connection between material things and happiness was explored. I enjoyed watching their journey as they traveled around the U.S. on their personally funded book tour and seeing how their message of minimalism reached the various people they connected with.
The film as a whole did a great job explaining not only what minimalism is, but, in fact, what it isn’t. Minimalism is a spectrum and I love that it’s a lifestyle that allows each person to decide which end of the spectrum they’d like to live on. After all, each person’s happiness is subjective to someone else. Want to purge everything and live out of a duffle bag so you can travel like one of the guys interviewed in the film? Awesome. Not that adventurous but would rather give up your single family home for a tiny house like that woman featured in the film? Good for you! Or is it just enough to routinely enjoy the things that fill your life such as clothing, accessories, gadgets, or books under the condition that you rid of them once you’re done? I think that’s okay too!
Needless to say, go check out this film! At the very least it’s a worthy watch and my hope that it will inspire you the way it did me. To reevaluate your happiness and what’s important.
So onto this challenge…
The Minimalists make up two men, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, who in previous lives climbed the proverbial corporate ladder only to find that regardless of the value of their net worth or the number of things they purchased, they weren’t happy. Everyone strives to be happy, so what was this key to this happiness everyone seems to be searching for? Well, your happiness will be different from mine, but adopting a minimalist lifestyle is a pretty good place to start for everyone.
Does this mean you should set your house on fire and whatever you can grab you can keep? No. Although it is a funny image to think about. Instead, join me this month for the Minimalist Challenge! Here’s how it works:
- Beginning on January 1st you must go around your home and rid of one material possession, on Jan 2nd it’s two things, Jan 3rd it’s three things, and so on. By the last day of the challenge you’re getting rid of 31 things! But that’s also where the challenge lies so stay strong!
- A challenge is more fun when you have a partner! Grab a friend, family member, spouse, or child to join with you. It’s also nice to have someone rooting you on and keeping you accountable each day.
- You can come up with your own rules and parameters for what to get rid of. It just has to be out of your home by midnight that day. Remember you can donate, sell, or trash any of your possessions.
- Share your challenge using the hashtag #MinsGame with The Minimalists themselves on social media!
It was Day 1 and the challenge required we remove one item from our home that doesn’t bring us happiness or add value to our life. Adopting a minimalist lifestyle somewhat already had made only getting rid of one thing difficult. I mean, when I begin to purge things I like to do it in one clean sweep. However, my husband and I decided our own rules for this challenge and that we could adapt it however we’d like – just as long as we agree on the terms. Instead of interpreting it as one single item, we decided that it would be a category. So, for day 1 I removed all the magazines we either already read or never intended on reading.
Luckily ridding our home really isn’t the challenge. It’s moreso the limited number of things that are required each day. Don’t get me wrong, if you’ve only just begun your journey into minimalism or at the very least dipping your toes in, this challenge is perfect. However, when I’m purging things it’s hard for me to only pick two things – instead I decided that my husband and I would fill two bags full of anything we wanted to sell, donate, or trash.
We immediately turned to our closets and this go around for me it was all about accessories. I was astonished to find that I had over 6 Coach purses of varying sizes and wallets that I hadn’t used in ages. It was all neatly packed away in the depths of my closet and I knew I wouldn’t ever use them again. So why was I holding onto them? I went through them all to see what I could consign along with any belts and jewelry I was no longer wearing. I also pitched a lot of my pumps that I knew I would never have the occasion or ability to wear again (thanks pregnancy!). My husband did the same and went through his drawers. Although he’s much further in his minimalist lifestyle than I, he was able to find even more to part with. He’s such an inspiration sometimes!
Sorry for the poor-lit photo!
Day three was getting fun! I was beginning to realize the number of paper products I own and rarely ever use. On my iPad I have the Harry Potter series already downloaded on my iBooks app and would find time read them throughout the day. But one day while doing laundry (we have a communal bookcase where there’s a ‘take a book, leave a book’ policy) with a friend we noticed the entire series in paperback and were immediately drawn to them. It was like, OMG I have to have them! So, we split them up based on the book we were on and the next couple books for when we finished. Although I really enjoy having them and in a sense they bring me happiness, I quickly realized I leaned more towards reading them on my iPad than in paperback form. So, on day 3 I’m giving these back (even though there are four books I’m getting rid of).
Have you ever been to the bar during a holiday or special event and somehow get excited when you get to keep the glass? Well, I felt that way during Oktoberfest, yes, three months ago. My husband and I were out with one of his buddies from college who recently moved to L.A. We caught one of their college football games at a local bar and it so happened that a couple of their Oktoberfest beers were served in steins and that we could keep them. Awesome, right?! Well, I certainly thought so – especially after drinking said stein. Well, flash forward to January and obviously we don’t have enough beer at home to actually use these so as a part of the Minimalist Challenge I decided to part ways with them as well as (sadly) our espresso mugs from Crate & Barrel, which were actually wedding gifts. The cups are just too small for coffee and we never used them. Literally for the 2.5 years we’ve been married they’ve just sat in our cupboard. Hopefully they can bless another home!
My husband’s choice for Day 4 were his photobooks. He had begun collecting them as a young bachelor in the Air Force as he made his travels. When we met, and due to him not having much furniture (super minimalist!), they never made it to a coffee table but rather sat in a box in his closet. Then, we got married and moved to California where I decided that these guys would finally see the light of day. Our Murphy, who was a puppy at the time, found some of them and chewed the corners. Even though we did find use for them as a display, he never actually read them. So, after glancing through them one last time (and even adding a few of his old travel books) the hubs decided to part ways in hopes that we can replace them with photos from our own travels. I couldn’t agree more.
I wonder what tomorrow will be…
I’ll be back every few days to update you all on our progress, but in the meantime:
Have you seen this documentary? What’s your journey with minimalism? I’d love to chat about it!