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The Art of Minimalism: Why Clutter Leads to Chaos at Home

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11 / 10 / 2018

The Art of Minimalism: Why Clutter Leads to Chaos at Home

Have you ever noticed the effect our surroundings have on us? In most cases, we have a hard time staying focused in a room full of clutter and vice versa — a clean, well-organized space provokes inspiration, productivity, and a general sense of wellbeing.

There's a theory that clutter leads to chaos not just in a physical space, but also in our minds. If that's true (and scientists say it is true), then there is one more reason to begin living a minimalist lifestyle.

If you love the idea of going minimalistic but still have doubts, reading this article will most likely dispel them.

Our guest, Ben Soreff, is a minimalist, professional organizer, and founder of House to Home Organizing. Ben has been living a minimalist life for 25 years. Passionate about order, Soreff has managed to turn his interest into a successful career. For nearly a decade, he's been helping people take better control of their lives by decluttering and organizing their homes.  

Minimalism is about looking at stuff differently and wondering why you accumulate it. 

If you think that minimalist living has emerged out of nowhere, you're wrong. Minimalist living and the fact that it's gaining momentum is just a natural outcome of tens of years of consumerism.

Here in the US, accumulating stuff has turned into a real epidemic. Need proof? Consider clothing.

The standard American family spends an average $1,700 per year on clothes. Furthermore, the average American woman owns 30 outfits — one for every day of the month. None of these would be a problem if not for the fact that every year, the average American throws away as much as 65 pounds of clothing.

If that's not a red flag to review our consumer habits, then what is?

According to Soreff, we need to understand that the "more is preferred to less" maxim is only true for economics. In real life, quite the opposite is true.

"When it comes to things in my space, I want them to mean something or be useful," says Ben and explains that "fundamentally, minimalism is about a different way of looking at ‘stuff’ and why we accumulate it. It is about thinking why we want something in the first place."

As Soreff explains, "with the advertising culture in America, it is not easy to shut off the instant gratification button." That's why it is so important to ask ourselves why we want something in the first place. In many cases, "it is about the desire and ‘chase,’ but like any kid with a new toy will tell you, soon they forget about it and want a new toy."

So, at the end of the day, it all comes down to mindfulness.

What do you need? Do you really need it that badly? Why do you need this? Will owning this will improve your life?

It's the habit of asking such questions and being able to give honest answers that makes a true minimalist.

Minimalist living gives you more control over your life.  

Some people falsely believe that in order to be a minimalist, one needs to constantly control their decisions and behavior. In fact, quite the opposite is true.

Although in the first stages of adjustment it does take some willpower to become a minimalist, eventually you gain more control over your life than you've ever had.

"[While] growing up, there is not much you can control, so you try and control the things you can. One thing you do have ownership over is your space," Ben explains.

Alongside with greater control over space, there comes more control over other things, including budget, time, energy, etc. As Soreff points out, "without a lot of disposable junk in our homes, we can focus on people and experiences—not stuff." It becomes much easier to be present and productive.

Certain tricks can help you dive into minimalist living with ease.

Much like any lifestyle change, a switch from consumerism to minimalism takes some time and effort. According to Soreff, you should not think of it as a "switch you can just flip and change in a day".

However, armed with some tried and true techniques, you can speed things up:

  • Make it a habit to ask yourself why are you getting something from the outset.

  • Try buying things only with cash. This will make you feel the value of money again.

  • Between low-quality-but-cheap and pricey-but-well-made, pick the latter whenever possible.

Becoming a minimalist can be a natural, organic process.

There's an interesting thing we noticed after talking to dozens of successful minimalists. Most of them say that the switch to minimalism wasn’t a decision made by them but rather an organic, natural change that happened to them.

"When you step away from a mass consumption model and focus on quality, you end up being a minimalist, even if you didn't seek out the lifestyle."

One of the most obvious explanations of this fact is that the principles of minimalism are much in line with how people were meant to live in the first place. So instead of looking at minimalist lifestyle as just another trend, it makes way sense to consider that minimalism may mean getting back to your roots.

What is your experience with a minimalist lifestyle? Have you ever tried living with less? Why or why not?