Minimalism - A Lot About Nothing
"Less is more." We know this applies to teenage girls contouring their makeup, but what does it mean in life? We’re a society of more. More sales, more clothes, more food, more facebook friends... After watching Netflix documentary, The Minimalists, I felt as if I’d found my people! Inspired and full of questions, I held my minimalistic instincts up to the light, looked them dead in the eye and asked, “why?” Why does it feel so good when clothes are hung? Why do I release a sigh after dishes are washed? It goes beyond the satisfaction of crossing something off a To-Do list (although that feels pretty good too).
But not everyone feels the same. Some are comforted by objects. They thrive in a messy environment where they know the TV remote is on the floor, under a pile of dirty socks right where they left it. Curious, I did a little digging through the anti-minimalistic hole that is the internet and asked this question: Why does less clutter make some people feel free and others panicked?
At the risk of sounding trite, some of us are just more sensitive than others. Sensitivity has nothing to do with weakness or crying. Sensies can actually appear to be the calmest in the room, little do we know they’re squirming on the inside at a noisy restaurant or in their friend's littered car. This goes beyond mental processing, it's energetic and varies greatly with each individual - another reminder to never compare yourself to anyone else, for two reasons: 1) What is comfortable for one person isn’t necessarily comfortable for another. 2) You have NO IDEA how that person feels inside. We must tap into how we actually feel, not how we're supposed to feel.
Ever heard of the Alexander Technique? It originates from the theatre but most recently Tony Robbins has been known to use this approach to prove our bodies can often influence our mood. For example, he suggests that someone with low self-esteem stand in a "Power Pose" - shoulders back, chin up, hands in the air - in order to feel more confident. And guess what? It works. Things on the outside have an affect on us. So if we’re inside a clean room with bright light, we'll start to feel open and energized. On the flip side, if we’re in a dark hole where junk is piled to the ceiling with the scent of garbage, our mind will begin to feel overwhelmed and translate that into an actual emotion. We know things can affect us from the inside out, and the outside in is no different.
More stuff + Some people = Happy
Some people combat loneliness with objects. Like a child and their stuffed animals, it creates an illusion that one is not alone. People who become hoarders have deep-rooted emotional disorders that have manifested into a houseful of junk. This goes way beyond being a messy person. Think you’re that much different? When’s the last time you got excited about a new Facebook like or Instagram follow? It’s a social craze to collect as many followers, AKA people we've never met so we don't care about them, to show the world how popular we are. See any similarities?
And then there’s the joy of buying something shiny and new. Instant gratification, baby. When our life feels lackluster, it’s a quick emotional high to slap a credit card down and buy that designer clutch we can’t afford. It’s a short spurt of hope that things can instantly change and unfortunately, that’s not realistic. People want a new, exciting life and if there’s enough pretty objects around, surely that'll solve the problem.
Less stuff + Some people = Happy
Every time I clean out my closet I feel like a weight has been lifted - it’s instantaneous and marvelous. Every object carries energy and most have some kind of emotion attached to it. Does it mean you’ll get lost in a memory with every bowl you wash? No. But we have opinions about every object we possess. For example: "My ex-girlfriend gave me that, she was really beautiful." "This phone charger is so annoying because the cord is starting to crack and I paid a lot of money for it." "My grandmother had this decoration in her kitchen, I loved her and will now I'll hang it in my kitchen."
Objects = Responsibility
Every object comes with responsibility. The responsibility to wash it, fold it, dust it, move it, sell it, wear it or rearrange it. When you have too many objects around it can start to feel overwhelming at the thought of maintaining each one. When things are neatly put away, priorities are clear. Everything is where it should be instead of buried under old documents that should have been tossed months ago. There’s not a lot of “digging” to find what you’re looking for, eliminating timely road blocks. But if someone craves road blocks, or has the desire to be "busy," stuff can provide just the right amount of responsibility for a person to have purpose.
Life is about learning the rules then putting them through a shredder. We already know what society preaches to be normal, now it’s time to take a good look at ourselves and ask, "How can I create an optimal environment for my totally unique self?"
Here’s an excellent article that dives into what it means to be a highly sensitive person.
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