My lifelong journey to joy has had potholes, roadkill and dead ends. Thankfully, between the tribulations came the epiphanies and 17,000 watt light bulb moments exploding shards of wisdom inside my head.
One of the biggest fragments that joyously stabbed me in the brain recently was deciding to cultivate an attitude of intention (in everything I do). I chose to simplify and adopt a more minimalist mentality where purpose is everything. Viewing things in this new way has made me increasingly AWARE of what I do and why I do it. Minimizing the “stuff” in my life has made room for self reflection. I internalize my actions and my purchases which causes me to pause and ask myself things like:
“Do I really love this? Does it bring joy to me?”
“Will doing or saying this offer value to others?”
“Am I doing this for fulfillment or achievement?”
“What is my intention for doing this or buying this?”
I’m still in this ever evolving process and learning more about the mindset and myself daily. I started by reading books, watching documentaries (Like “Minimalism”) and culled the overabundance of “things” I had. Curating what I allow in my life brings me joy….I’ll only be keeping and doing what I love.
This was something I was drawn to when I first moved to Costa Rica in 2009 with just a few suitcases and a pocket full of Fight Club quotes like “The things you own, end up owning you” & “Reject the basic assumptions of civilization-especially the importance of material possessions”. Yet at the time I still had a $145 a month storage unit in Albany, NY as my security blanket. I had the right idea but a few missing pieces to the puzzle. Although I did embrace a simpler life while living there; when I moved back to the U.S. I found myself filling my closets and house yet again. I’d constantly “get rid of stuff” to simplify (as I loved the aesthetic and it felt good to get rid of things) but I’d go back the next week to buy subpar clothes and stuff I didn’t need at the nearest Marshalls and TJ MAXX.
I was drawn to minimalism but the exploding light bulb didn’t happen until I sought out mentors and found a plethora of information and insights in books and online. It was then I was able to connect the dots and thus truly and fully embark on this leg of my joy journey.
There is something that happens to when you learn to let go. You realize you don’t need as much as you think you did to be “happy”. You start to live life on your own terms instead of what the marketers “trends” are that month.
Minimalism isn’t just about the aesthetics and having a clean and simple home….although I truly feel like I can think better without chaos around me. Minimalism also isn’t just about digital declutter (damn that feels good too though!). Yes, it’s about keeping only what we love as far as material things. It’s also creating the exact life we want by our own rules. I am now intentionally shaping my life of meaning and substance without the distractions of other people’s agendas.
Here are some intentional things I’ve done so far:
Cleaned out my home- closets, junk and spice drawers, pantry, kids toys, clothes and “decorations”. We are only keeping what we love!
Computer- cleaned up my desktop, got rid of unneeded documents and photos
Iphone- erased all unused apps. Turned off all notifications and erased some social media
Limited my scrolling on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram to just a few minutes a couple times a day. I love connecting but do not want to spend my day on other people’s terms
Cleaned out my inbox on gmail. I deleted ALL unnecessary emails and put what I did want to keep in specific folders. I also unsubscribed from newsletters I did not love
Gave away, sold and gifted things that we only “liked”
Stopped making page long to-do lists. I have 3 goals for each day and that’s it. My day mostly comprises of honoring my top three priorities in life: my health, my family, my creativity.
What this has done for me already:
I have WAY more free time than I ever imagined I could have with 2 young children
The simpler, cleaner environment relaxes me and boosts my creative spurts
The kids play by themselves even longer. It’s crazy, but with less toys they are more inventive and never bored.
I don’t have to clean as much as it’s already pretty clean!
Living with intention gave me more time to create instead of consuming other people’s creations.
Saved MONEY! No more binge shopping. Everything is intentional and essential. I literally only buy what I love now.
What I'm not:
It is my intention that this article inspires you. This is not a “right or wrong” way essay on how to live. This is just one leg of my personal road to happiness and joy that may help you too. The more I curate my life, the more I fulfill my purpose of serving others. If this serves you, please feel free to share!