Finding Contentedness

I’ve been reading about and trying to put into practice minimalism and simplicity for the past year. I feel like with all the changes in my life, however, it has taken me until now to finally feel the benefits and find contentedness.

The past year has been full of change for me, as I’ve already mentioned. Part of what has helped me find balance and myself again has been in the control I’ve taken with my personal belongings. While moving 2 times in 8 months has helped me eliminate some unnecessary items, it’s been in the removal of items that no longer add to my life that has had the most impact. You can read countless articles about the benefits of minimalism and the tough work that goes into getting rid of items, Lord knows I have, but it’s all true. By going through my belongings and asking myself whether or not that item should have a place in my home, whether or not it serves a purpose, I’ve had to answer tough questions about myself. I’ve had to face who I’ve been, who I am, and who I want to be. If items only remind me of the person I used to be, they probably don’t have a place in my future. I’m continually growing, and I don’t want to be defined by the person I was, but rather who I am becoming.

Some people think minimalism is getting rid of most of our belongings and having a certain number of items or clothes, but that’s not how I define it. Minimalism to me, is creating space for the things that really matter by eliminating items, to do lists, or ideas that no longer add to my life. In removing items from my home, I have more space and am surrounded by items that bring me joy when I look at them. In removing unnecessary commitments and giving myself time during the week and weekends (surprising, I know) I’m giving myself time to relax without feeling guilty. In removing ideas about who I am I can face the reality of my situation and learn to be at peace with where I am in life. My saying now is “trust the process”; it’s on a post it note above my mirror now and whenever I feel myself slip back into my old ways of thinking, I quietly say it to myself. There is freedom in trusting that we are exactly where we are supposed to be.

I can now sit quietly in my apartment looking at things that give me joy (my postcards, pictures of people I love, items given to me out of love, things I’ve purchased on trips, plants growing, etc.) unencumbered by items that no longer make me happy. When I can contentedly sit in my home, I find that I can notice small joys more. I can appreciate the warmth of sitting in the sun, fun coworkers who make me laugh, the pretty weeds growing in a field while driving, a pot of coffee ready when I arrive at work, a clean desk to start work, a beautiful sunrise, friends I can hang out with, and so many more. With the space to enjoy my belongings, I’ve found I’ve become a little more introspective. When I can no longer look around my apartment and find “things to do”, I am forced to turn inside and finally begin to deal with my own thoughts, doubts, and aspirations. I’ve been learning quite a bit about myself in this extra space. It’s not all good things, but it’s important to accept who I am completely. I can always want to improve, but it’s so important for me to learn to love and trust myself.

The more content with my life I’ve become, the more I’ve seen the fallacy in the idea of being busy. We celebrate people who when asked how they are respond with “busy”. But I don’t want busy to define my days. I want time and space to relax and slow down. While there will always be a certain amount of staying busy, I still have 2 part time jobs and babysit, I want to end each day with enough space in my life to feel content. And right now I feel like I am able to do that; of course not all days are like this but the trend is in that direction. By intentionally creating white space in my life, I can feel a change and a difference inside myself. I believe this contentedness is what life is about, and at least for now I am going to try to continue to hold onto this balance.

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