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On Decluttering

·1087 words·6 mins·
Minimalism Simple Living
Joshua Blais
Joshua Blais

Decluttering is a meme in a society with so much abundance. The average American owns something like 300,000 things. What if we focused on owning that which is essential and purposeful?

I invite you to take a look at your life and evaluate it for that which really matter. That which does matter, go all in on. That which does not, begin to divest yourself of.

I saw that my own life was chaotic, because I was not prioritizing and strictly working toward an “essentialist” existence, focused on God and purpose.

So, I started to do some “house cleaning”.

It all began a couple months ago as I started to remove clothing that I no longer wear from my wardrobe, as well as excess electronics, office supplies, and various knick-knacks that take up space but don’t get much use. Little did I know how much mental space these things held.

The goal was to pair down that which I own to things that get use on a daily (worst case, monthly) basis.

I look around and still have a few things that are awaiting sale, but - I can confidently say now that everything I own I use regularly enough that it would be a hinderance to re-acquire it.

Let me make it clear: I do not believe in the idea that you should own nothing.

I am not what I would refer to as a “minimalist”, though many people would call me this.

I am utilitarian, or better yet - essentialist.

I believe that what you own should better your life and allow you everyday to do that which makes the world a better place. You should get use out of that which you own; stuff sitting around is not beneficial to your mission and serves only to weigh you down physically and mentally.

And, the ground rules I have set for myself are as follows:

I believe that what you own should perform utility and should be actually used.

What you own should be durable and suit your needs as a tool. Buy it for life is great advice if possible.

The things you own should not limit your freedom to move and experience this life as best as we can.

You don’t need to own one fork and cup, but if you own multiple, it should serve a purpose (ie: you have guests over that you can share meals with).

Take a mobile phone for example; I know I give the phone a lot of flack in my writing, but the truth is there is great utility in it - if you use it for the purpose of utility. Otherwise it is a massively distracting device that takes you away from your potential.

I began a massive overhaul in my photography/videography setup so that I can really create what I want to create. I upgraded, but I also sold off everything that I was no longer using; it is not cluttering up my studio - it is in a new home where people that actually care to use it will get use for it.

I had multiple keyboards, one for travelling, another at home. I figured, what if I can use one for all of my use cases? So I sold the multiples and bought a board that ticks all of my need boxes - small, portable, and exactly what I need.

I used to own two cell phones, one for personal use, one for my business.

I sold both and bought one that has the ability to put multiple sim cards in it, reducing not only the physical load I have to carry but the mental load, too. It is a lot easier to bring one phone than two when leaving the house.

The act of decluttering your home is the act of decluttering your mind.

It is allowing that which really matters to take center stage and to take over your life, pushing you toward a place that you can see that which you are, not shrouded in distraction, but free of the material bondage that is completely endemic in the modern world.

Of this I am certain.

I can see myself finding more inner peace, less turmoil, and the ability to focus on what I really want to get done in this life. I see my path getting clearer as I reduce the things that I own that are taking up space - and only keeping the things that allow me to be massively creative and feel as if I am making an impact in this lifetime.

I think that the funniest thing is that when I was younger I thought I had to make a ton of money - I had to be making 100 grand a month to sustain myself! This is amusing to me, when I look at what I own - I really need nothing more. Sure “wants” arise, but most of the time, I ask myself ’why do you actually want that? How does it make your life better?’ and if the answer is that ’it does not make my life better, it is just your monkey brain talking’ then I eschew the purchase.

An example of this is that I have wanted to get an espresso machine for some time, but I also look at the clunkiness and inability to move it around unless we are settled in to a place (we want to be nomadic for the foreseeable future). Therefore, the purchase would burden our goal of travelling more and showing our daughter the world. We have yet to purchase a machine and get coffee from the shops around us. Will we ever buy one? Perhaps, but the equation of burden to betterment will have to be different.

One in, one out

When you do bring something into your roster, you should look to eliminate something that you don’t use anymore.

Get rid of one thing per day, and you will start to see what you really use. Are you keeping a thing around to serve a sentimental purpose? If so, maybe it would be better to let it go. If you are unable to do this, I understand fully. But, the things we own should not own us - they should not burden us, but rather help us.

Changing this outlook on items has personally made my life so much more peaceful and enjoyable - for in removing that which does not matter, it makes it far easier to see that which does.