Goodbye, Things: 7 Lessons I Learned By Going Minimalist

When I stumbled upon the concept of minimalism through a niche blog in 2013, Marie Kondo’s Life-Changing Magic had yet to capture the closets of middle America.

At the time I was actually searching for ways to do more as a struggling artist juggling multiple jobs.

Surprisingly, most of the answers I found buried on the internet centered around the power of less.

“Clear your head! Let go of your possessions! Live off the grid!

I liked those answers.

Why? Because they were simple.

I was sick of maintaining a circus of stuff that at best upheld a false perception I wanted to portray to others, and at worst completely drained my mental (and financial) energy.

So I began aggressively giving things away. Reduced my clothing down to mostly blacks, grays, and tans. I even got rid of my car (and thrived without one in L.A.) as a 3-year-long experiment.

Looking back on it now, I thought I’d share a few lessons I learned when I first went minimalist and still incorporate today:

  1. It’s not just about things. Minimalism is a mindset that constantly asks “What’s really important to you right now?” in every facet of life - from relationships to career, all the way down to your core values.

  2. It’s not just about aesthetic. Gram-able capsule wardrobes, tiny homes, and neutral colors completely miss the point if they’re simply for show. Tiny things are still things, after all. And you are not your things, no matter how efficient and clean and beautiful they are.

  3. It’s not just about downsizing. It has to work for you in the long-run if you want to sustain. I found out the hard way when I tried to produce my album on a Mac mini (Does Apple even make these anymore?). The specs couldn’t handle all the work I needed to do at once and I ended up swapping for a much larger iMac a few months later.

  4. It’s not just about decluttering. Especially if you’re still shopping compulsively to fill the void.

  5. It’s not just about organizing, which may be just another word for “hiding the things I don’t want to deal with but I don’t want to let go of either.”

  6. It’s not just a moment. It’s a series of moments…tiny steps, happening in stages, a string of ever more awakened decisions…a memoir.

  7. The Container Store is problematic.

I think there’s at least a Part Two for me to add to this but I’ve saved it for later #minimal.

In the meantime, I recommend the book Goodbye, Things: The New Japanese Minimalism by Fumio Sasaki for more life-simplifying tips.