When I decided that living with less was appealing to me it was after getting married. Luckily at the time my husband was open to letting go of the extra furniture that was consuming our apartment. His flexibility made this process much easier for me, yet it wasn’t until much later after watching me go through all of my things over and over again that he started downsizing some of his own things.
He is not on a minimalist lifestyle journey, yet he has given me the space for me to continue mine. I honestly believe that he began to see and feel how much better the energy flowed in our home, and he also began to enjoy how it looked. He also noticed how much happier I was at least after decluttering that it only made things better for both of us.
What I learned about this process of living with less was that although I would at times be completely frustrated if I saw something of his out of place, it was my things that were overflowing everywhere. By focusing on his things it allowed me to not focus on myself. The more that I focused on my own things and took full responsibility, the closer I was to reaching my own minimalist lifestyle goals.
Here are five things to think about on your minimalist lifestyle journey when living with others.
1. Be An Example
So you’ve just become aware about living with less and are so excited about it you want to tell everyone you know. You may find one or two who find it interesting, yet I find it more powerful to just be an example. The more that you embody a new principle in your life the more others will want to tune in and ask you about it. Another benefit of keeping some things to yourself is that you won’t have to defend yourself to others in the beginning of your journey.
2. This is your journey!
You may be the only one in your household who is interested in living with less especially in the beginning, no worries since this is your journey. Some things are fine to do completely on your own. Even after letting go of excess furniture in our home, the real work began with looking at my own personal possessions. These overflowing items were my clothing, my craft supplies, my unfiled paperwork, my shoes, my bags, my accessories, my cosmetics, my books, etc. Do your best to stay focused on your personal possessions, not other family members or roommates. Over time you will be able to ease into decluttering shared items, yet that isn’t the best place to begin.
3. Minimalist living is a mindset.
The more I’ve decluttered over the years the more aware I am of what I buy and bring into my home. After working so hard to clear my home, the last thing I would even desire is to fill it back up. This simple living mindset develops with time, and you will actually never be a mindless consumer again!
Buying just to buy is no longer a desire. I doubt you’ll spend free time at the mall unless you really need something specific. The time and energy once spent shopping can be channeled into creative endeavors, learning a new language, or anything else that really excites you. You will also learn to enjoy what you already have so much more and focus on only buying quality when you do buy something. Releasing my emotional shopping habits was a big blessing!
4. Gifts, Holidays & Family
During the holidays the focus can really surround consumerism. Last Christmas I asked my family not to buy me anything especially since I was in the midst of my first 33 Days Declutter Project. It actually wasn’t bad at all since I didn’t need anything at the time, and I was content with what I already had.
Since living with less is your own personal journey allowing others to enjoy the holidays as they feel most comfortable is still important. There are ways to encourage gifts that don’t add clutter to your home. You can also ask for gifts of experiences like concert tickets or lessons in something you want to learn, a specific item that everyone can contribute to, or luxury food items that can be devoured. Be creative and don’t feel overwhelmed. The holidays are a wonderful time to focus on friends and family instead of things anyway.
5. Others will catch on.
After beginning my own minimalist lifestyle, I have noticed more and more family members around me becoming more intrigued with decluttering, and some even tackling The 33 Days Declutter Project–Round 2. Yes I do blog about minimalist living, yet I feel that my lifestyle speaks for itself. It is possible that others may not catch on and that’s okay too since we all deserve the freedom to be ourselves. The more that you are able to clear out your own things, the more you will enjoy your own life.
Most likely if you are living with others they will catch the “decluttering bug” without you saying a word. In general allowing others to live the life that they choose is a freedom that we all desire. There will be some give and take with this as there always is, yet be patient with yourself and those around you.
When you are beginning your own minimalist lifestyle allow those around you to become acclimated to your new mindset. They won’t be interested in living simply until they see for themselves how it benefits you. Read valuable tips on decluttering here!
What has helped you when decluttering while living with others who aren’t? Please share and keep the dialogue going!
(Image by Dawn Michelle)