Minimalist Monday: Brand Happiness
I first became interested in minimalism at a time when I was feeling overwhelmed in many areas of my life. I was working full-time in a demanding job, living in a house that needed a lot of time and money spending on it and my personal life although happy was sometimes too hectic and over-scheduled to enjoy. Somehow I kept going but I began to realise that this life was not making me content. My happiness came from quick fixes such as an expensive holiday, impulse clothes shopping and fancy ready meals bought to save us time.
Minimalism attracted me because it seemed to offer the chance of starting over and the possibility of a more enduring happiness. A less showy, gentler brand of happiness. A happiness that would come from being content from within not from the outward status of owning the right house, car or clothes. A time-rich life where cooking from scratch and a long walk would be everyday pleasures not everyday pressures.
And so began my experiment of trying to live with with less. Gradually I decluttered many areas of my life. First to go was my full-time job. I was lucky enough to be able to work part-time and this dramatically improved my work-life balance. For the first time in many years I gained time that I could choose how to spend including sometimes allowing myself me-time.
This new life has taken hard work, planning and financial sacrifice. A smaller income meant that we had to downsize. Fortunately, we found a smaller house which was cheaper and easier to manage. In the process we decluttered huge amounts of possessions which was a lot of work. We are fortunate to still be able to afford some treats and holidays but they have to be carefully budgeted for.
There have been many positive benefits as a result of simplifying my life. We actually prefer our smaller house because we have more time to relax in it. Decluttering taught me that I have always owned too much and now my buying decisions are planned more consciously than before. Now I enjoy the purchases that I make because I don't feel guilty afterwards in the same way that I did in the past when I bought more impulsively. Having more free time has enabled me to have more time to support my Mum and Dad, relax with my family, meet up with friends, run more regularly, volunteer, blog, be more involved in my church and join a book club.
A major breakthrough that I have made is being able to embrace change and risk-taking. At the end of last year I made a huge move and left my permanent job of many years. Since January I have been doing temporary work and have so far enjoyed this new chapter of my life. I am enjoying new experiences in my work and opportunities are beginning to evolve. I have learnt a lot about myself and feel confident about the future.
Despite the benefits of living with less I occasionally have doubts about the life changes I have made. Sometimes I find it hard to relate to others when they are relaying their latest purchases or expensive travel experiences and plans. But then I remember that my happiness has its own brand that doesn't need approval or recognition and I know that I am on the right path.
Just a little update on my simplifying journey. Have you any similar experiences? I'd love to hear.