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What Do You Think Of Minimalism?

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This topic contains 11 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  Bruce Hoag 6 years, 2 months ago.

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  • #5460

    Julia Rotgers

    A member of our family was diagnosed with an illness and one of the recommendations of her Dr. was to strategically de-clutter.

    Over several months she gave away things that were filling her cupboards, closets and shelves but were not being used.

    The result was a big reduction in stress and a recovery of mental energy.
    Not having to think about everything or make a choice every time she went to cook, clean or craft reduced anxiety.

    The things she used were still there, but she did not have to look over or move out of the way the things she didn’t use.

    So…. this has led to a trend towards minimalism for a big section of the family.
    (Minimalism as I define it is basically a desire to live with fewer material possessions.)

    My question is 2-fold;
    1)What do you think?
    Could this be something you would adopt?

    2) I’m thinking about adding what I’m learning to my website and kind of a ‘get to know who I really am’ kind of section.
    My thinking is that this would add another level of connection.

    I’d love any feedback or ideas you have on the idea.

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  • #5462

    Bruce Hoag

    It’s amazing how little we need to live, both in income and possessions.

    I had to learn this the hard way. I went from living in a 2800 sq ft Italian palace to a small hotel room (6 months) to a 8′ x 35′ trailer (> 4 years). Any day, I could be moving into a small and old one bedroom duplex. It seems surreal that I’m actually going to live in a real house after all this time.

    I wouldn’t wish my experience onto anyone, but to face that degree of simplicity every day cause you to appreciate things in a way that I don’t think you could otherwise.

    Minimalism needs to be practical. You don’t want to live in space that is clinical. On the other hand, there’s much to be said for reducing the amount of stuff that you have. When we “lay up treasures . . . where moth and dust corrupts and thieves break in and steal,” it increases our worries. We’re disappointed when we find holes in our favorite clothes. We feel compelled to get extra insurance or rent safety deposit boxes to hold our treasured belongings.

    Even in my comparatively austere surroundings, I’ve learned not only to be content with what I have, but also to seek for mental space as well.

    Physical space that comes from reducing the clutter helps you to relax. Mental space enables you to think.

    Bruce Hoag PhD
    The Internet Marketing Psychologist
    The Mindful Writer - for deep and persuasive copy

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  • #5466

    Robert Labedz

    Great Idea

    As in anything it could go extreme – But Americans in general have way too much stuff.
    We tend to call “wants” “Needs”.
    As a veteran that has traveled the World – We have no idea how much stuff we have and Don’t need.
    My wife noted – I think we are the only nation that has to rent storage spaces for all the stuff we have that we probably will never use.
    I have been trying to minimalism a bit with the help of Craig’s List, Ebay and the Salvation Army.

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    • #5468

      Bruce Hoag

      What you say, Robert, is absolutely true, not that it wouldn’t be. LOL

      It’s only when you spend time in other countries, especially in their homes, that you realize how much less everyone else has.

      And this is another place where the 80/20 Principle applies.

      You’ll use 20% of your stuff 80% of the time. In this case, figuring out which 20% will be pretty easy. Once you’ve identified that, it’s pretty easy to work out what you don’t need.

      There may be emotional attachments to what you own, which may make it a little harder, but as you say: If you have to get a storage unit for it, then unless it’s really important, you probably don’t need it at all.

      Bruce Hoag PhD
      The Internet Marketing Psychologist
      The Mindful Writer - for deep and persuasive copy

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  • #5531

    Steve Allen

    I agree with the concept of minimalism as Julia defines it here. But I’m way ahead of the curve in this regard.
    My first wife died of cancer a few years back and when that long ugly ordeal occurred, it became very obvious that we had way too much stuff for our kids to have to deal with if I was to follow in her footsteps any time soon. So a few years later when I married again (someone who’s husband had died) we were on the same page and decided that to love our kids partially meant to not leave them with hordes of ‘stuff’ to deal with. So we got rid of tons and we still have tons. We don’t live like the ‘Alaskan Frontier’ folks who choose to live without modern convenience but we don’t just collect junk and pay to store it like so many in the USA do.
    And yes…it does relieve some stress not having all that ‘stuff’ around to clutter up the place.
    Great idea Julia. Go for it!

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  • #5532

    Scott Hogue

    I like the idea of minimalism, just not much of it.

    -The Comic Relief Department

    What really is Minimalism? I think it means some very different things to different people.

    There is this movement that says to be a Minimalist you have to own 100 things or less. To me that sounds more like a game than a lifestyle. What 100 things? It is a bit arbitrary to me.

    Some people want to have a limited number of possessions to have a simple life and really do less, you might even say be lazy, others want a limited number of possessions to free them to do more and accomplish many meaningful things.

    Some people worry about the environment (I never found worry to help anything) and they keep their possessions few and their lifestyle sparse to save the planet. I know a woman that can’t eat with friends because she is so concerned with cars creating pollution on the way and the damage to the environment caused by restaurants. I think she would do more good to write some responsible environmental group a check every month and live a bit more with the rest of us.

    Then there are the back to nature people. I would like to get back to nature, but I don’t think I was ever there to begin with. Here we have to keep constant watch for mice, birds, squirrels, opossums and deer, they cause a lot of damage. So we have to buy screens, fencing and whatnot and we aren’t really that rural.

    Like a lot of things, I believe intention and the goal makes a tremendous difference in what is going on.

    In general I would go along with simplifying things as being a philosophy. Especially during and after Christmas I have talked with my wife about Do we own things or do they own us?

    When my first wife died, I know I would have much rather dealt with her left behind possessions than her undone projects, roles and jobs.

    Giving away all of the birthday cards she had on hand from sending a birthday card to every nursing home resident in the county on their birthday was no problem compared with dealing with all of the people that wanted to know why the project ended and what we could do about it. If your goal is to make it easy on the people left behind after you die, well, a truck or two in an afternoon could probably haul off your socks, suspenders and blouses, but for at least ten years I was still running up on a thread in someone’s life she had left loose. I think the worst thing I had to ever attend was receiving a PTA award for her after her death.

    When my current wife and our daughter were hit by a drunk driver I found I couldn’t get my wife in any door with her wheelchair. I couldn’t get a wheel chair through the house for the furniture, which was orderly, but we had the usual narrow places from a bookcase, a recliner or a microwave cart. Then I had to bring in shelves for medications, breathing equipment, therapy equipment, bathing and on and on. I simply pushed things into rooms that weren’t essential. As a result for years we had rooms you just couldn’t go in or use. The children were leaving at that time and they left things behind. I have one daughter that came back and left several times leaving things behind each time and another that joined the military and left some of her things behind, occasionally sending things to us for safe keeping. Looking back I wonder how we walk through the house.

    We have made a lot of progress, “Cleaning” and we have got rid of some things, like shelves and wheelchairs, but I told my wife recently we don’t need to clean anymore, we need to change things.

    As you get older, let’s face it, maintaining possessions takes a larger percentage of your energy and time.

    My mother is a certified hoarder. I go to visit her and I have to spend a few hours throwing out things here to ease the fear we will wind up like her.

    So, is there a product somewhere here? I think so.
    Also, an approach to doing our work. What do we want? What will it take to get it? Do that and get rid of the interruptions.

    What kind of lifestyle do you want? Your books on shelves or digital? Spending time working on the yard or in the back yard with friends?

    I realize there are a lot of things I should have done years ago to focus on what really matters. They finally got together and bought me a riding lawn mower. I was still pushing the old push mower hour after hour. I spend that time in better ways now.

    I think technology can help us minimalize in a way. Ebooks over shelves and shelves. My grandfather used a straight razor, with a hone, a finishing block, a stope, a cup, a brush and soap. He eventually went electric and said, You just plug it in and shave. He was done before he could get the old stuff out and did it with one item.

    What does minimalism mean to you?

    Scott Hogue CChH
    Follow me in the "Use What You Learn Challenge" as I create a website using what I learn from Sean that is a Platform for my niche:

    The thread on this group that explains it:

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  • #5533

    Julia Rotgers

    Yes, I do think minimalism means different things to different people and that it is sometimes hard to define what is “needed”.

    Which is the core of my definition of minimalism.

    As has been attributed to Albert Einstein – “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

    It is definitely possible to go to extremes.

    But I think it’s all in learning. We did, for a time, leave out only one of each regularly used kitchen utensil and a single plate, cup and set of flatware for each member in the household.

    This gave us the awareness of what we really needed day-to-day.

    For me, minimalism in no way indicates doing without. In fact the thought process is more towards having the best and doing more of what I want to do.
    If I am going to move forward with a single choice, I want it to be the best.

    So it’s a matter of choosing quality and what really meets my need rather than having just to have.

    I had, for a long time, leaned in this direction anyway – I am a nomad at heart and do not see the need to drag possessions from place to place.

    I’ve yet to achieve my youthful proclamation of being able to contain all I own in 5 suitcases 🙂

    And the loss of several family members this last year intensified my desire to be able to go wherever I want to go (or am needed) without having to be burdened with possessions I don’t use.

    I’ll stop rambling… I appreciate the input and ideas.

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  • #5579

    Sean Mize

    I feel compelled to say this: 80% of the things in my house I haven’t used in 2 years.

    Do I need them anymore?


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    • #5620

      Bruce Hoag

      Some things, like reference books, car battery chargers – anything that is there in case of a crisis or emergency – you probably ought to hold onto.

      Other things that you haven’t used for some time need to be evaluated.

      You need to be practical about it; not just ruthless. If you think that you’re likely to use it in the coming year, then it would be reasonable to keep it.

      If you have the wherewithal to replace something you haven’t used for a year or two, and don’t expect to anytime soon, then my suggestion would be to give it to someone who can use it now.

      Clothes are a good example. The various shelters can give them to people who wear the same outfit 24/7.

      I get rid of those books which I know that I’ll never use again. You and I have both read enough of them, Sean, to be able to make that determination.

      I’ve found personally that when there’s less stuff around me, then I think more clearly. For me, anyway, clutter is a distraction.

      Bruce Hoag PhD
      The Internet Marketing Psychologist
      The Mindful Writer - for deep and persuasive copy

  • #5581

    Julia Rotgers

    I think you are in good company, Sean!

    As a rule of thumb, if you have not used it in a year you probably don’t need it.

    This takes into account seasonal items that only come out once a year.

    An exception would be things that you use, but not frequently (BUT you actually use them).

    For example, one family I worked with has a sausage stuffer.
    They only make summer sausage every few years when they have access to a specific type of meat.
    But they do use it, so this would be a keeper.

    Same family has a smoker that they thought would be a great addition but have never used.
    This would need to go.

    Ultimately it is a personal choice. It’s not about law or rules. Some things are easier than others.
    A good question to ask when considering keeping an item is does it give you joy?

    If yes, keep. If you are holding on to it because someone gave it to you, you paid good money for it, it’s still useful, etc, etc… it may be time to get rid of it.

    It’s not about saving money, living tiny, budgeting or doing without …. it’s thinking about what you really love, want and need and not being burdened with the rest.

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    • #5606

      Scott Hogue

      About three years ago, I bought a van in Bowling Green KY. I spent the night with my oldest son and his wife there. We went out to eat with his inlaws (one of which has since died), picked up the van, spent the night, went to revival meeting the next day at my home town Church nearby.

      At that time I was still drinking Pepsi.

      He had bought a six pack of what we call pony or sissy sized cans of Pepsi for me, they fit in his fridge well. We had pizza and Pepsi for one meal.

      I actually have one of those cans on my dresser. I can’t look at it without remembering that weekend and the wonderful time we had together. If that can wasn’t there how often would I think of that weekend and have those feelings? I don’t know, but I can tell you it is several times a week with the can on the dresser. Frequent recollections of that memory keep it fresh in my mind.

      I wouldn’t take a hundred dollar bill for that can. I wouldn’t take two hundred.

      My wife would throw it away if she could get by with it. A Pepsi can on a dresser?

      I worked in the past with hoarders. Also did grief therapy. They can be like that only worse. There is a memory for every item in the house.

      I have helped them make photo albums and now digital albums so they can have the image and the memory without the item, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. It is just a tool, not an answer. Sometimes it adds to the problem, they want the photo album and the items.

      My wife isn’t that way. If she can’t use your Christmas gift to her she will return it, swap it, sell it, maybe even throw it away, but she has her own things and own reasons for dragging things in.

      She has a daughter that could live out of a shoe box. We try to send her consumable presents for holidays and occasions.
      Let’s just say she is a top donor to Goodwill.

      It comes down to meaning. What do things mean to you?

      If they mean memories of good times and connection to those you love, I bet your house is rich with things.
      I wouldn’t call my grandmother a hoarder, but her house was rich with things. She knew who gave her or where she got every little spoon, spoon holder, ceramic ornament, picture frame, vase, bell, bird and whatnot from her 97 years and had a mind as sharp as razor soup when she died.

      If they mean a burden, clutter, loss of freedom and even a reminder that things change and we lose the good times of the past, then I bet your house is pretty bare, but neat with plenty of room.

      I went through some very hard times. I find it hard to throw things away, you might need them sometime. I throw things away anyway, but always at the back of my mind is, “There was a time I could have used that.”

      People that went through hard times often are like that. People also develop fears, fears of not being able to get the things they need and want. My father took a certain medicine daily mixed in a Sonic cup. He had it down to a routine and science. He started keeping Sonic cups so he would always have one to take his medicine. I went to see him one time and wandered into a room that had Sonic cups stacked to the ceiling. In time there was more than one stack. He couldn’t get rid of them in case he needed them which was an irrational fear, Sonic will have cups for the foreseeable future and if not, I would think 40 cups would be enough for the neighborhood. Then he died and mother couldn’t get rid of them because they were your father’s (unsaid-and he valued them so I should value them and I remember him by them and I can’t face the change of living life without your father). Eventually she let go of them a few at a time.

      I knew as the stack of cups went down, my mother was getting better and going on with her life.

      There is just a lot more to this than you see on the surface.

      Scott Hogue CChH
      Follow me in the "Use What You Learn Challenge" as I create a website using what I learn from Sean that is a Platform for my niche:

      The thread on this group that explains it:

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  • #5617

    Julia Rotgers

    I completely agree, Scott.

    There is definitely more than one way to look at this and getting rid of everything is not the answer.

    I would never remove something from the house that has value to someone else.
    My husband has a t-shirt from the 70’s, faded and full of holes, but he’ll never get rid of it.

    I don’t live in a sparse empty house.
    I was the only child who wanted my grandmother’s things, my life is full of her memories.

    I still cook with her kitchen supplies and I will until they are unusable, because they bring me joy.

    I also have a full china cabinet full of her china that I NEVER use and hope to pass on to someone who will someday.
    But again, it brings me back to the independent, eccentric lady who influenced my life in such a big way.

    The same thing with my favorite uncle’s jacket (who’s passed) and the ‘Kermit the frog’ jacket my mom made me.
    I’ll probably never get rid of them.

    And then there are the people who offer you their loved ones possessions at the memorial – I’m not sure I could do that – but we all have our own way of dealing with things.

    For some, knowing the item is going to someone who will give it a little more life, is comforting.

    The question is “Do they (Does it) give you joy?”

    On another vein I’ve survived 2 house fires, and even tho’ we did not lose everything we owned, I know what it feels like to lose what you thought you must have and be able to do without it.

    Our past can’t help but form who we are.


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