Everything That Remains

Earlier this evening, Tristan and I attended a talk by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, known as The Minimalists. They are having these events around the world as part of their Everything That Remains tour for their most recently published book. They are all about leading a life with less “stuff”.

Having a lot of clutter and stress in my life at times (mostly the clutter, I guess), I decided to attend the free event because I was curious to see what they might have to say. I found that they both had a very positive outlook on life, and not only were they about minimalism, but about finding what is truly important to you and what makes you happy, which is one of the principles of minimalism.

I know a couple of people who like the idea of minimalism. I do like it, but I find it awfully difficult to part with a lot of my “stuff”. I collect too many sentimental items, I have a lot of clothes, and I keep things “just in case”. While I didn’t learn anything too new from Joshua and Ryan, they did tell their own story and how they dealt with the stuff they owned. As Joshua said, they were not touring to convert anyone (he said he didn’t even think it was possible to do such a thing in this case), but simply to share their story.

It’s not that I’m a hoarder, either, I just happen to own a lot of things. Some that I just forget about and don’t consider getting rid of. I guess it’s a bit hard to let go of some material things sometimes. A good way to see if minimalism is for you is to do an audit of your possessions and put a portion of it – that you don’t think you’ll use for a few months – into secure, local storage, and you can come back and review the items later and see if you can do away with them permanently.

Related of things I hold onto for sentimental value – Joshua shared the story of his mother, and how he sold her possessions when she passed away, because other people found find a use for all her things, rather than him paying $100 every month to keep them locked away in a shipping container to never see the light of day again. He said it was difficult, but after discovering four taped cardboard boxes full of his elementary school papers, obviously taped up and never opened for a decade, he made the point that memories are inside us, and not in things.

I liked that he and Ryan mentioned Leo Babauta from zenhabits.net – I do read his blog religiously! Leo is also all about minimalism. There are other ways to learn about minimalism especially since Netflix became more popular with shows about decluttering and living with less.

Ryan told us about the time he decided to look into minimalism, and how Joshua helped him out by packing everything he owned into boxes, and over the course of three weeks, asked him to only take out things that he needed. He said that 80% of what he owned remained in their boxes.

They left us with the quote, “Love people, and use things. Because it just doesn’t work the other way around.”

I feel like I am always giving minimalism a go and that it helps me achieve low stress. Tristan said he is like that already – all he owns is his phone, car, and clothes. I guess I could say the same thing, but then again, I have so many clothes, I have a record player, a laptop, my cameras, a giant jigsaw puzzle on my desk… which I forgot existed… plus a lot of photos… way too much jewellery… why do I keep the boxes of my iPads and iPhones… do I really need that many books…

I have ridded of a lot of clothes in the past year, just completely thrown out jewellery I dislike, and a while back, I got rid of all the books I had already read and didn’t see myself reading again (that is, the ones that weren’t my favourites).

I guess it doesn’t hurt to keep trying, which is why I had started Project Simplify Georgie in the first place, all those years ago. I’m keen to have much less clutter in my life. In terms of happiness, and finding meaning – well, I think I’m already there. :)

Comments on this post

It’s great to make time out of a busy schedule to go do different things. I would have thought some lifestyles are not meant for everyone (even if it’s possible). Like for me, as healthy as going vegan can be, I know I won’t be as happy going through it- but that’s a different story. The minimalism life sounds great because it lessens that stress of having to be “materialistic” because you only use what you need and nothing else. I suppose it is also a money saver because really, you only buy what you need. Getting rid of the main clutterness is the first step :). Having a collection of things or not, as long as you’re happy, that’s all it matters!

I started reading Colin Wright’s blog, exilelifestyle.com, in 2009 and I fell in love with the idea of minimalism. Colin is also associated with the two gentlemen you just mentioned. I completely forgot about minimalism because of school and stuff, but today after I had spent two hours at the mall with my roommate looking at stuff, I realized I did not really care for materialistic things. Watching Joshua’s and Ryan’s TEDTALK on their site inspired me to pick up minimalism, but where do I begin?

It’s pretty difficult to get started. When I look at my room that is exactly what I think. But I think you are in the right mindset already. If you buy fewer things now, you can focus on the stuff you have and reduce that.

I have been cleaning my room as of late (as I wrote in my latest post). It is a long process, which I think I will continue to share and write about, but I feel like a lot of it comes down to making decisions and being a bit ruthless with things we know we don’t actually need, no matter how small or big they are.