I grew up in an oil field town. Most people were either “the haves” or “the have nots”. My family sat squarely in the middle and we were just fine with that.
One day, when I was a teenager, I was can remember sitting in the car in a parking lot, waiting for my mom, watching traffic in town. As I looked at all the people either working or shopping I began to wonder, “Is this really all life is? One big hamster wheel of working and shopping? There’s got to be more.”
Before The Minimalist Lifestyle
We didn’t have a lot of extra money but we were an average American family. I was like everyone else. I spent my teen years accumulating CDs and clothes. Then I bought a Jeep, a laptop, and a classic iPod!
When I got married my husband and I moved into a 400 square foot studio apartment and we didn’t think we would be there long. We wanted to move into a bigger place where we could have more stuff. That’s what everyone else was doing.
So what changed my mind? We went to visit friends in the Dominican Republic and for the first time I truly saw the excess of the American way of life.
1. The Minimalist Lifestyle Taught Me To Appreciate What I Have
Our trip to the Dominican Republic painted my life in a new way and I started to appreciate exactly how much I had.
I looked around my tiny apartment with appreciation for the first time. All the things life is made of could be done in it. I could sleep, eat, watch TV, enjoy my hobbies, and hang out with friends.
That place actually allowed us a lot of freedom. We had a pretty easy budget and lots of free time.
Before I knew it, the minimalist lifestyle taught me to stop looking around for what I needed to get. Instead, I started noticing how much I already had! When I started to appreciate that I started feeling happier with my little apartment and my life.
The problem wasn’t that owned too little.
The problem was that I had too much stuff so I started seriously decluttering.
2. Minimalism Taught Me The True Value of Things
It wasn’t easy to let go of some things at first. I had paid good money for them and they were still in good shape. But I never used them and they took up precious space.
Eventually, I learned that I had to let go of things that were no longer useful to me. I had to stop worrying about how much I had paid for those things. They were still useful, to someone, but not me so I had to let them go.
As I grew into it, the minimalist lifestyle taught me that the value of an item isn’t really weighed by its monetary value. An item’s value is directly related to its usefulness.
If you use it every day, it’s very valuable! Seasonal items you use every year could be pretty valuable. But if you haven’t used it in years then it has no value to you anymore. Let it go.
3. My Personal Worth
We ended up staying in that little apartment for almost 10 years. I can’t tell you how many times friends and family asked us when we would buy a house.
The thing is, I didn’t want a bigger place anymore. I had just the right amount of stuff and just the right amount of space.
But our society marks our worth by the things we attain. If you have a house, you are succeeding in life is what many people think.
In my town, if you have a big shiny truck and some blingy cowgirl jeans you have arrived. It doesn’t matter where you live, people mark success with external factors like these and they don’t even know they are doing it!
My whole way of thinking became very different from the culture I was surrounded by. The minimalist lifestyle had taught me that the things I own have nothing to do with my value as a human being.
Living in a tiny apartment allowed me the time and energy to do more for others. I had time to develop new skills. My husband and I spent all our free time together building a strong marriage.
My value as a human being had nothing to do with the things I owned. In fact, owning less helped me to grow and develop my personal worth.
4. Flexibility is Security
Our culture focuses on making money and buying things because it makes us feel safe. But minimalism taught me that nothing you can buy can really fix the big problems in life.
When the Pandemic came, it put my work at a standstill and severely crippled my father’s business of over 35 years. We lived in a tiny apartment and my parents lived in a spacious house. It just made sense that my husband and I move in with my parents to lessen both of our bills so we could weather the storm.
If we had bought a house and filled it with things, moving would have been a huge undertaking spanning several months. Instead, we were settled in two weeks.
Minimalism has taught me that money and things do not provide true security. What provides true security is flexibility.
5. The Minimalist Lifestyle Taught Me To Collect Experiences Instead of Things
When I was a little girl I was obsessed with souvenirs! I wanted to remember everything with a knickknack and my room was jam-packed with these dusty memories.
Slowly though, the minimalist lifestyle changed my viewpoint. I stopped collecting souvenirs and started collecting experiences and memories instead. I became more focused on what I could DO instead of what I could buy.
Minimalism taught me that experiences never become obsolete and they don’t accumulate dust. Instead of collecting junk, I want to build my life with memories!
What Life Lessons Will You Learn From The Minimalist Lifestyle?
The minimalist lifestyle has taught me a lot but most importantly it has taught me that there is a lot more to life than working and shopping. I don’t have to get on that hamster wheel and neither do you!
Work enough to have enough and then build a life full of meaning and memories! The minimalist lifestyle will teach you a lot along the way. What will you learn from your minimalist journey? How will you grow? It’s time to find out!
About the Author: Jessalynn Jones writes her blog Doable Simplicity to help you simplify your life. She wants to help you make the minimalist lifestyle a way of life that brings you joy and freedom as you reach your big picture goals!