For several years I have practiced many of the principles of the voluntary simplicity movement, including living within my means by limiting personal debt, etc. I don’t personally believe that life is a “zero-sum” proposition, meaning that if one succeeds others must suffer, so I never totally bought into the mantra of “live simply so others may simply live,” but I do get the spirit behind the sentiment.
On the other hand, when I used to hear the term minimalism I conjured up images of spare spaces devoid of warmth or welcome. However, over the course of this past month I have come across several blogs dealing with more of a minimalist message and must admit that I find myself embracing the “less is more” philosophy very much as my own.
One of the more revolutionary exercises in my newly invigorated move toward an ever simpler lifestyle has involved me going through our house room by room and excising everything according to the words of William Morris: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
Consequently, my wife and I have methodically gone through our stuff together, gotten rid of much of it, and given more that remained to a local charity. For example, our small household of two does not need four telephones so we eliminated one and we downsized our Christmas decorations to fit into one large box instead of our attic.
As we did this, I identified some helpful principles that enabled us to move through the process of paring our possessions. First, choose quality over quantity by selecting the best and scuttling the rest. Second, challenge your assumptions by imagining a different space and structuring it accordingly. Third, leave no stone unturned by thoroughly going through things regardless of their sentimental value and such. If you don’t use it regularly, consider getting rid of it or giving it a better home. After all, simpler is better.