I have spent the last few years of my life eliminating unnecessary spending on activities, things, and people who do not contribute to my life in a meaningful way. I started down this path in order to live a life that was more intentional, fulfilling, harmonious and abundant. Traveling on this inner road to happiness, I discovered an awesome book by Sara Ban Breathnach titled Simple Abundance (I highly recommend it!), and lately I have been listening to podcasts that promote minimalism as a lifestyle.
Now wait a minute, I know what you are thinking: why would anyone in his or her right mind be interested in deprivation? And furthermore, isn’t simplicity the opposite of leading an abundant and successful life? Believe me, in my former incarnation I was all about having and doing everything to excess, because I thought that this meant I had arrived at success’s door. I had a closet full of clothes, many with the tags still on them, and yet I still couldn’t seem to find anything to wear. I had tons of purses, shoes, jewelry and other “stuff” which usually just sat around collecting dust. Unfortunately, the balances on my credit cards kept increasing as well as my stress level.
Looking back, I was overwhelmed and the literal manifestation of my overwhelm appeared in many areas of my life, including: closets bursting at the seams with stuff I had long forgot about, overdrawn checking accounts, no savings account, and the mental and physical exhaustion that comes from having to maintain and organize so much stuff. I wasn’t successful; I had made the mistake of seeking happiness from accumulating more things rather than looking within to figure out who I was without all of my “stuff.”
I had been living some marketing campaign’s idea of success. I had no time for relationships with others, let alone myself, no time for reflection, and no time for traveling. These were the things that were actually important to me; yet I complained about not having enough time for these very things. I had failed to see how my constant striving for more of everything was contributing to my own unhappiness.
I had unconsciously tied myself to a grueling, never-ending work schedule because I couldn’t afford to not work. And frankly, at that time in my life, I had never entertained the idea of cutting back on my consumption in order to work less. Sadly, I continued to buy into the myth of owning lots of things to be happy for many years. Then one day it finally hit me: It is up to me to define what success looks like and to start making choices in alignment with my values. This is where the beauty of simplicity and minimalism has assisted me in creating a truly abundant life.
The practice of simplicity and minimalism has given me a sense of freedom I have never experienced before in my life, because I now make conscious decisions based on love and that are in alignment with my values. I spend my resources (time and money) in alignment with my truth. It’s not about being cheap or deprived. In fact, in terms of buying things, it’s all about luxury and abundance because I only buy things I absolutely love and adore. If that means I have to save money in order to purchase the item, then that is what I do. No exceptions. And the same applies in every other area of my life. Outside of my required commitments, I carefully choose how I will spend my time. If the thought of hanging out with someone or doing something does not excite me or add value to my life, I don’t do it.
Practicing minimalism and simplicity has brought a deep satisfaction because I am no longer motivated to buy things because it’s the latest trend or because its on sale. I no longer open my closet and exclaimed; I don’t have anything to wear! I am no longer terrified of opening up a credit card bill or worried about my clothes, my house, or my car being acceptable to others because I love it. It really is just as simple as pausing to ask yourself: Do I love it? Does it add value to my life? If not, act accordingly.