make your own rules

In a previous post, the biggest challenge I realized that I cannot please everybody with this blog. I’m trying to make a change and with change comes resistance. It’s not easy to suggest something different to what people are doing already.

People reading this may not agree with everything I say, so they tell me I’m doing something wrong or that I don’t know what I’m talking about. But these people don’t realize that minimalism is a difficult subject to explain because it is so easily misunderstood.

Obviously some ways are better than others, but there is no right and wrong way to ‘do’ minimalism. Contrary to popular belief, there isn’t a religious book to follow on minimalism. To a certain extent, you actually can make up the rules.

make minimalism fit you

A lot of people buy dresses and suits off the rack. They see a design, style and size they like the look of and then they lose/gain weight to fit into it. They work hard to force their bodies to fit into a pre-cut piece of clothing that was made with only a generic size description in mind.

But then there are those that stick to how they are and they tailor the dress or suit to fit them. They don’t need to force themselves into clothes that were cut for other people in mind.

There is no cookie cutter rule for minimalists. If you don’t plan to travel much, then maybe having fewer than 100 things would be inconvenient for you. If you go to work or school several miles away, then perhaps you can’t ride a bicycle. If you have kids, then you can’t help but have some clutter with toys and school work.

You may not be able to do everything, but you should be able to do something. Even baby steps count. If having six pairs of shoes is minimalist for you (as opposed to the twelve that you would have had) then that’s minimalism for you. If you can only reduce your car use by one time a week, well that’s better than no change at all!

As I said, I’m not trying to make everyone happy. There’s a line. Of course you can’t just put one thing in the bin then go out shopping and call yourself a minimalist. But for the most part, it is true that what minimalism means is up to you.

Just to show how the rules can vary, people have ways of counting their things if they take up the 100 things challenge. I bunched all of my socks into one because I only have about five pairs anyway, whereas some people count them separately. Most people don’t count their kitchen stuff (some don’t have kitchen stuff!) and some don’t count things they need for work. Whichever way you look at it, it’s better than doing nothing about it at all and even small changes like forgoing a shopping trip takes you one step forward.

To get started, just do one small thing today. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Look in your handbag/pockets. Are you carrying any thing you don’t need? Why carry extra weight?

2. Boycott twitter, facebook or any other internet black hole for a week, how do you feel? Did you get anything useful done instead?

3. Grab a bag and fill it with clothes you don’t wear any more. Take it to the charity shop. You know which ones they are.

4. Sort through a pile of paper that’s been building up for the past few weeks. Recycle or scan – try to get it down to less than half.

5. Tip a drawer upside down and put back in only the stuff in it you’ve actually used within the past two months. Do you need the stuff that’s left on the floor?

6. Have you been saving up books to read? How long have you had them? If it’s been over a year, give them away to someone.

7. Instead of driving somewhere you can get to within 20 minutes of walking or cycling… walk or cycle it.

8. Quit a commitment to something you haven’t had your heart into for a while now. Clear your schedule for something you really care about.

9. If you collect old magazines, consider if you really need them. If you haven’t read them in a while, why are they taking up space in your house?

10. Instead of eating/going out, why not get together with some friends and make dinner? It’ll be more fun than you think.

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