Minimalism sometimes can be a problem. What do you do if you really want to keep something but it doesn’t fit in with the minimalist lifestyle? I learnt that sometimes it’s ok to break the rules and this article explains why.
I love elephants
I love collecting elephants and now have quite a few, but I also love minimalism and the two don’t always go together very well.
Do you have a collection of something or have a lot of one type of item? For example, perhaps you enjoy sewing so you have lots of fabrics and threads etc?
Don’t worry, it’s perfectly possible to be a minimalist and follow the principles of minimalism and simplicity without having to give up some of the things you love. For it to be of benefit, rather than just an exercise in scarcity and struggle, minimalism must work for you and your family.
If you love and enjoy something, you can find a way to incorporate it into your minimalist lifestyle.
Bear with me whilst I self-indulge and talk about elephants for a moment!
My love of elephants goes way back. I have always been fascinated by their heightened sensitivities, their wide range of emotions, their tight-knit family communities where they nurture their young and care for their old.
Elephants are wise beyond their years, never forget anything and place great value on the wisdom passed down to them over generations. Their ears form the shapes of the continents from which they come and despite their size, they can walk so softly over a stick that it won’t break.
They sense when one of their own is dying, they know to guide a sick relative to its feet so that its bodyweight won’t crush the air from its lungs and their babies are little comedians as they master the use of their trunks and flap their ears wide to scare the birds.
In short, I love elephants. But, as I can’t have a real one, I have collected little sculptures of elephants and other elephant paraphernalia since I was young and I now have quite a collection.
In discovering minimalism and decluttering a huge amount of our family’s stuff that we no longer needed, want or even knew we had, I hit a stumbling block when it came to my elephants.
I had spent many years and quite a bit of money collecting them. Each was unique, chosen and purchased either by me or as thoughtful gifts from loved ones because they were beautiful, quirky, intricate, carved, fired in clay, made of glass, metal, precious stone, wood – you name it, I had it.
How on earth would I be able to part with my collection only because it didn’t fit in with my minimalist journey?
I couldn’t just throw it all away or donate it to someone else because this was my collection, my choice of elephants and represented a piece of my personality and something that I cared passionately about.
I wondered if it was really possible for me to be a true minimalist and I also worried that in becoming a minimalist I would have to make some sacrifices that I just didn’t want to make. Minimalism is meant to have a positive impact, not spoil my fun and enjoyment of things!
But I learnt that there is so much more to minimalism than just getting rid of everything.
Minimalism is about letting go of the things that we no longer want, don’t serve a purpose or no longer bring any value. Instead we make space for the things we love and cherish.
My elephant collection is something I love, makes me happy and brings joy to my life. I don’t mind that I have to dust them, move them and create a space for them.
The rest of my house is pretty minimalist. We have clear work surfaces, enough storage for the items we possess, every item has a proper home and it takes a mere 10 minutes to clear up at the end of the day.
But my elephant collection is proudly on show for all to see. The herd may be a range of sizes, colours, made of a variety of materials and each elephant facing in a slightly different direction but they are on display and I’m not minimalising them!
The way you and your family choose to be minimalist is entirely up to you.
It’s different for everyone. If you love elephants then keep them because you love them. If you love clothes, don’t worry about having a wardrobe full of them. If you’re a bookworm, develop your library.
You don’t want to fall into the trap of reducing your possessions to so few that you lose sight of things that actually add value to your life and make you, you.
Minimalism, despite its name, is actually about enabling you to add value to your life rather than take it away.
Don’t get so hung up on throwing everything out that you throw away the things that make you happy along the way.
That’s not to say that this is an excuse to keep everything and there’s certainly ways you can help yourself stay a bit minimalist even if you do have a lot of something that you want to keep. For example:
- Maybe you could take a photo of your collection and keep that rather than the actual items.
- Could you choose your ten favourite pieces instead of keeping them all?
- If you get a new addition to your collection, consider saying goodbye to one of the existing?
Although I’m passionate about minimalism, I also know that if something in particular brings you pleasure and happiness then it’s ok to stop and think before you minimalise it.
Minimalism is a way of life that brings heaps of benefits and allows you time and space to appreciate and love everything that you have. If that means a few more elephants sitting on your shelf, who cares?!
Want to learn more?
To learn more about Minimalism and how it can help you and your family, please check out my other blog posts.