I spent a long time mentally preparing myself to become more minimalist in my lifestyle. It was a good thing to do, and certainly I think it’s a Christian thing to do. Jesus himself owned little, and even the early church in Acts shared what they had with each other. At some point I’ll go into more depth about this, but this post is really about the mental preparation I went through and why.
It seems everyone who has turned their lives towards minimalism has some kind of ‘testimony’, and maybe you can resonate with mine, or not. Everyone’s personal experience is different.
I am, by nature a messy, lazy untidy person. Not the sort you would see on TV shows where people live in utter squalor, but I never really finished with things once I’d used them. So books would pile up, not going back on the shelf for months, or CD’s would be stacked on the desk, testament to their recent playing.
Every now and then I would tire of this kind of life, and would sort everything out, put things in their place, maybe occasionally trying a new method of arranging items so that they could easily be picked up and put back. Ikea shelving was bought, and instead of giving me space to put my stuff on in this organised fashion, it instead became a challenge to fill the shelves with books. Those books incidentally, were never read.
A few months back I was stressed in work, near a breakdown, depressed and full of utter despair. It was not a good place to be. I looked at solutions across the breadth of the Internet, and found some interesting articles on how some people approached depression.
One of the important things for depressed people is not exciting fun hyper activities to take their mind off it. No. For some depression sufferers, the important thing is a steady routine. I learned this years ago, that getting up, doing some certain things, going to work, finishing at the same time each day, going home and having a meal a certain time made life much more bearable, and gives space to think more positively.
My life was full of failed hobbies, junk and media excess. So I started to trim it down. I got rid of 75% of my books, some with incredible emotional attachment. That was nearly a year ago, and I don’t miss them. In fact, I could not even tell you a majority of their titles, whereas when I did own them I could have told you what most of them were called, and even a synopsis. I’ve done similar with DVD’s and now doing more so across all my media and entertainment formats.
Does this reduction in media consumption change anything? No, I don’t think it does. I’ve not really bought a CD for years, most of the music I listen to is available for free. My music of choice is ambient, and there are many netlabels around like Free Floating Music, Earth Mantra and many more that I can download from.
I don’t miss what I don’t have. That is the essential thing to prepare for and something I spent about two months thinking on before I took any action. Starting with some areas has enabled me to see a benefit, and that encourages me to tackle the others.