I feel as though I am constantly adding more things into my life.
I’m finding more recipes for the same chocolate chip cookies. I’m buying more pyjamas because they are cute and festive and I couldn’t resist. I’m putting more things on my to-do list because being productive makes me feel less insecure and lost.
More, more, more.
Perhaps it’s because we have this need to fill up empty spaces. We have to colour in every last square, fill every bit of silence and cover every inch of our counter tops.
I think the blank spaces make us uncomfortable.
The empty and quiet feels unsettling. Those places leave room for possibility, a chance for the unknown…and fear hates nothing more than the unknown.
So we fill, fill, fill until we are bursting at the seams.
And the abundance, the overflow, the lack of blank spaces makes us feel safe.
Ever since I noticed this about myself, I have found the concept of minimalism fascinating.
The idea that less could actually be more. That blank spaces, emptiness, and quiet could be the keys to happiness.
And the more I subtract, the more I let go, the more I welcome blank spaces…the happier I find I am becoming.
It’s not just the physical clutter that I’m letting go of, although that certainly helps too. It’s the emotional and mental clutter that I’ve been learning to sweep out my front doorstep and slam the door shut on.
I’m learning to…
Let go of “shoulds”
The ones that I place on myself and the ones that others place upon me.
Like those niggling expectations of what our lives should look like at this point in time.
I should have a real job…
I should go traveling…
I should be saving to buy a house…
Because as Brene Brown so wonderfully puts it, “expectations are resentments waiting to happen.”
There is no formula. There is no exact route or set plan. Your life is up to you. You have the freedom to chose to live it however you like.
Your story may look different to someone else’s but that’s excellent. Because that is what makes us such an interesting, diverse species.
Releasing myself from burden of all the “shoulds” has felt like a weight lifted off me. Instead of spending so much time looking over my shoulder to see how everyone else is doing it, I’m free to just figure things out my way.
Accept things as they are
Realizing that these are the cards we have been dealt. This is the body, the person, the life we have been given and choosing to make the most of it.
Accepting that our shyness might make some people dislike us at first, or our skin might be paler than we would like, or our occupation might be less glamorous than we had hoped for.
Sometimes happiness feels like taking a moment to just appreciate instead of needing to justify.
I don’t always understand why things happen. I don’t always know what I could have done differently or how something can be fixed.
But I do know this: I am where I am. I am who I am. That is all.
Just be present in a moment
Instead of giving into my natural tendency to think ferociously forward to the future.
I’m learning to enjoy the surprises and spontaneity that life throws at us. To just be happy living in the now.
Gazing up in wonder at the starry sky when we had to pull off the highway to fix the car. Stopping to smell a rose as I’m wiping tables down at work. Tasting every bite of the meal that took me hours to prepare.
It feels frustrating when I just want to get to the good bits…but sometimes the good bits are disguised as the boring, the ordinary and the mundane.
Slow myself down
Fighting the urge to match the pace of the hustle that surrounds me.
Enjoying when breakfast stretches long past midday. Laughing at the fact nobody is ever ready to leave the house when we say we need to go. Celebrating when I manage to tick just one thing off my to-do list for the day.
Productivity is sometimes overrated. It can be a crutch we use to keep ourselves occupied so that thinking and feeling are things we can avoid.
Slowing down forces us to sit with our feelings. To be vulnerable and insecure and keep living anyway.
A word that keeps springing to mind at the moment is surrender.
It makes me think of the mighty ocean beating on the shore. Everyone and everything must submit to the great force of the ocean. The severity of the waves, the drag of the tides. There is no place for stubbornness or refusal.
And like a piece of driftwood I feel myself being swept up in the ocean currents, flung this way and that, pushed towards the shore and pulled back again.
I find peace in surrender. I think minimalism is surrender.
Giving up what is easier to hold on to. Letting go when our natural instinct is to cling on tight.
We need to make peace with the blank spaces. We need to welcome the cringey, uncomfortable emptiness.
Living simply, means clearing out the old beliefs that hold us back from our full potential. Finding freedom in the here and now, accepting things as they are and slowing down a bit.
I have come to the conclusion that what I really need to be happy is less. Which is surprising in a world that tells us happiness is more. More money, more friends, more belongings.
But having less means having extra time, extra patience and extra room to grow, explore and create. I need less in order to have more.
So I’m starting to think this minimalism stuff might just be for me after all.
What things do you still need to let go of before the next year begins?