The trend may seem unattainable or even unattractive, but these benefits are worth cultivating your inner minimalist.
It’s no secret that minimalism is a popular trend right now. But you don’t have to get rid of all your books or paint everything gray in order to enjoy the benefits of a decluttered home. Intentionally purging unused, unwanted, and even some wanted-but-not-needed items from your house, your car, your purse, or your office can help you solve problems you didn’t know you had. Here are several reasons for practicing a moderate form of minimalism in your life:
1You can make the special meaning of your favorite items more apparent.
Marie Kondo, the current queen of tidying up, says that you should only keep things that “spark joy” for you. I don’t know that my sense of “joy” is sharp enough to make a decision about everything in my house, but I do know that letting go of sentimental items I don’t love has helped me identify which items I plan to pass on to my children someday.
One of my friends has made multiple cross-country moves with a beautiful model of the Hungarian parliament building in Budapest. If she had gotten rid of it, I wouldn’t have discovered her love for Eastern Christianity. But if her house were full of knickknacks, I wouldn’t have been able to perceive how special that particular item is to her. In the same way, I can appreciate our wooden candlestick from the Holy Land because it is the only thing on our kitchen table when we aren’t sitting down for a meal.
2You can enjoy the absence of visual and physical clutter.
Fewer falls, more counter space for cooking, less time spent looking for lost items, fewer risks when children are playing … The real question is why do we allow clutter to impede our lives as much as we do?
3You can help people in need.
To most people, decluttering means bringing garbage bags full of clothing to the local Goodwill. And that’s a good thing—many community resource centers rely heavily or exclusively on donations. At my local thrift store, I’ve seen time-sensitive essentials like infant car seats go to homes where they can be put to good use, rather than gathering dust in a corner.
4You can make money.
In addition to garage sales, swap meets, and websites like Craigslist and eBay, there are many apps that help you sell unwanted items. You can ship your stuff to a central dealer (with Decluttr) or directly to a buyer (with OfferUp). These apps have to compete with each other as well as with Facebook and other big platforms, so they are constantly being updated and improved.
5You can grow in gratitude.
No one should need to visit a developing country on a mission trip in order to appreciate spare pillows, dishwashers, abundant clothes, artwork, etc. When you catch yourself taking a material blessing for granted—and especially if you find yourself complaining about something that functions perfectly well—remind yourself how many people in the world struggle to eat, drink clean water, or sleep in a peaceful shelter at night. Or call your grandparents. The odds are good that they grew up in a very different world. My grandmother shared a bed with her sisters, ate only squash for dinner after a harvest, and had no running water in her house until she was in middle school. I’ve always had my own bed, fresh and varied food, and hot showers whenever I want them, though I don’t deserve them any more than anyone else.
6You can make friends.
It’s easier than you might think to find a community of people online who are trying to organize their homes and lives more intentionally. Through blogs, Facebook groups, and countless social media accounts, people share inspiring “before” and “after” photos of their homes, tips for attacking “problem areas,” and engage in conversations about the process of simplifying various aspects of their lives.
7You can prepare for death.
Perhaps your practice of minimalism lasts only as long as the season of Lent. Or perhaps you want to slowly decrease your attachment to physical things over the course of many years. Either way, the decision to let go is good for the soul. Christ said it is easier for a camel to enter the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. I once heard a homilist explain that the gates into walled cities were often narrow, and that people would have to unpack their supplies from their camels’ backs before they could enter. We—especially those of us in affluent countries where we have most things in excess—would do well to recall Christ’s words about attachment to material goods. Memento mori!