Why do you make each decision you make, from the tiny ones to the big ones? Do you find yourself on decision-making autopilot where the why behind your choices is cloudy? Do you make choices because you’ve always made them or because everyone else does, and you didn’t realize there was another way?
As I wrote about in Mindfulness = Minimalism, being aware in the present moment allows you to see your life as it truly is, rather than the stories you weave about it. This awareness enables you to become more intentional, which creates a seamless path toward minimalism. How you live is then completely directed by you and tends to result in having less things, typically only items that are very functional or very meaningful. When each item you own is selected and maintained for a distinct purpose, you are keeping the bigger picture of your life and values in mind.
Recently, I heard a couple of stories about people who adopted a minimalist lifestyle and made all the decisions they thought they were supposed to make, adhering to some sort of lofty ideal. They now regret it a bit and realize they got rid of things that were useful to them, functionally or otherwise. As a result, they questioned the value of simple living rather than how they chose to implement it. They saw this as a cautionary tale. It seems to me that they weren’t acting consciously. They weren’t teasing apart the roots of their decisions to adopt the lifestyle that worked best for them.
If you downsize without your specific needs and goals in mind, you are accepting someone else’s version of minimalism. Don’t accept mine, or another blog writer’s, or professional organizer’s. Don’t attempt to mimic pretty Instagram pictures or Architectural Digest minimalist design photos. If you do, you can get lost in the ideal and not it’s true practice. Also, as our lives change, our needs and preferences do as well. It’s okay to acquire a few more things as time passes, that doesn’t mean your adoption of minimalism was misdirected. Just be sure to be purposeful about the additions and continue the practice of paring down. Look at the why behind everything. Begin with your intentions.
This practice is the antidote to the subliminal messages of the status quo. The status quo is tricky. We may think we’re in control but probably haven’t looked deeply enough. In Just Say “No” to the Status Quo, I specifically question such basics as shampooing my hair. But you can apply this to anything you’ve taken as a must-have rather than questioning it.
For all of these reasons, I use a process with my clients that leaves lots of space for their individual requirements, personality, and values. There are different solutions for everyone because there are different intentions. Leading with purpose is universal.
Often in yoga class, we are asked to set an intention. This produces a more meaningful and directed experience. I propose applying it to your life, both as it applies to downsizing and your day-to-day choices. You can be specific or general. You can choose a different intention each day, week, month or year. By practicing intentionality this way, you will naturally become more deliberate with all of your decisions.
Be the best version of yourself. Be intentional.