Netflix: Minimalism Documentary
So I recently finished The More of Less which is by the same people that produced this documentary--Minimalism: A documentary about the important things.
I have been into minimalism because moving is hard, and I have been a hoarder since I was little. My mom used to have to go through my room at night and throw out stuff while I was sleeping! My biggest problems tend to be: sentimental items and "what if I need it later?"
I'm always concerned that someone is going to come to my apartment and ask, "say, where's that scarf I got you four years ago for your birthday?" And then what do I say?! Well, after watching this documentary and reading some books and blogs, I realized that 1. most people can't remember that kind of stuff and 2. they bought it so it could be loved and used. If it's sitting in the closet gathering dust, is that really celebrating that gift? The spirit of the gift has already been exchanged, the physical item is what is left over. So I've been trying to slowly let go of past presents recognizing that the spirit of the gift exchange was had and joy was shared, but now it should go to someone else to love and savor.
For another example, these days cards are SO expensive. I read a book that talked about a woman who will write notes separately and insert them in cards so that the cards can be reused. I think that's a great thing! Not because people are trying to be cheap, but because the card then can be shared again and again (just try not to give it back to the person who gave it to you), and also not kill any more trees. Small steps for the environment people, small steps.
So I've been trying to let go of some of these things. Maybe even taking a picture of a card, so I can always reference it, but then letting it go. As nice as it is to look through old things, sometimes I wonder if I had a house fire, what would I have left? And will my children care about the card I got for lunch that one day in 6th grade? Doubtful (if they do, I probably have weird children). Some sentimental things even carry bad memories! Let's be honest, I don't need my journal from my angsty high school days. (I'm almost 25, so that means I'm out of that phase right?)
"But what if I need it later?"
A rule that I've become attached to is: if it can be bought for <$20 from somewhere <20minutes away, you don't need it. Albeit things like flashlights and batteries are extremely utilitarian, do you really need spare screws? Five pairs of scissors? That dress you can only wear every other year because let's be real you don't go to fancy parties? No? Just me?
It's so easy to accumulate. Then we lose things, go out and buy more, then find the old version. Then we keep both because what if one breaks? The truth is we are only burdening ourselves with more stuff and more obligation. The odds of you being completely stranded and desperate for wrapping paper with absolutely no way to get any and no other options are pretty much zero. Use newspaper! Plastic bags! A pillowcase! People care what's inside a gift anyways. But I digress. When we are able to let go of some of these "anxiety items," we are also able to let go of some of that anxiety. Rather than constantly worrying about all the situations where we might need something, we can rest easy knowing we can easily get what we need at the nearest store or Amazon prime.
Overall the movie was interesting but not as inspiring as I expected. It follows the two authors of the blog The Minimalists and talks a little bit about their journies to minimalism as they are on their book tour. Meh. There were a few personal stories but I didn't feel that they were relatable enough. I did enjoy seeing the guy from zenhabits.net on there, though -- he's fantastic, 10/10 would recommend. It's worth a watch since it's -5 outside in Michigan and let's be real we gave up on going to the gym daily a month ago, so let me know what you think in the comments. I'm also just more of a book person in general (but then that adds clutter... hmm).
One message that was pretty pertinent was the effect of advertising on us, our children, our parents, and our friends. We are told to feel bad about having the iPhone 6 because the iPhone 7 is SO MUCH BETTER THAT IT'S IMPOSSIBLE TO LIVE WITHOUT AT THIS POINT. Realistically, your phone probably works fine. And do you really want to spend that much money on a new phone? There's a difference between using things until they can't be used any longer, and using things until the newest version comes out and casting them aside. I'm not saying I'm perfect, in fact this post is about all the things I struggle with. Just yesterday I saw a dress in a Facebook ad (curse them and their stalker-ish ways targeting me with relevant ads) and I ended up buying it. Did I need a new dress? Nope. But it was 50% off! And I really wanted it. So I bought it. Old habits die hard.
But now I will treasure that dress. I will find new ways to wear it. I will take myself out to a fancy dinner! (Or someone else could... hint hint boyfriend) Or I will wear it out and be overdressed but not care because I love the dress. The key isn't to stop consuming, that would be impossible for most of us, but to be much more intentional with how we consume and how we think about our stuff.