All month long I've seen a portion of my Facebook friends continue the annual November tradition of posting something they're thankful for each day. It's a decent practice, noting things you're thankful for, but the need to do so all month long simply because Thanksgiving is also in November is odd to me. Shouldn't you be doing this every day? Or on a regular basis? I don't doubt many of them do, but doing it in plain view of everyone else simply due to the calendar seems like a grab for attention. A, "look at how good of a person I am, please validate this for me" move that continues for a full 30 days.
But the practice did get me thinking about my own 30 day challenge. Not one I'll be posting daily about, but one I believe I should record, if only for my own benefit. For the past year or so, I've been mulling over the concept of minimalism. There are a range of interpretations about what truly constitutes a minimalist, but there are some core values each view shares, and those are the characteristics I'm chasing after.
A seed was planted in my mind roughly a year ago when I read a book called Insanely Simple by Ken Segall. While the book focuses specifically on how Apple achieves success by holding simplicity at the core of everything they do, I firmly believed the ideas could be applied to one's personal life. In starting to explore, I stumbled across a website called Becoming Minimalist. Operated by Joshua Becker, the site is devoted to his own experience in becoming a minimalist and inspiring others to do the same. He has written two books since starting the site, both of which I've purchased but not yet read.
What I've gathered over the last year, is that minimalism isn't really about not owning things, or merely having less. It's more about being intentional in the things you own. Owning things for real purpose, and being content with just a little bit less. It's the idea that you don't hold onto possessions, "just in case", or keep boxes of items with "sentimental value" tucked away somewhere. Everything you own should be something you truly enjoy and interact with. And more importantly, that you don't buy into consumerism, which suggests that buying and owning more will make you happy - but it really does the opposite. Instead, experiences and valuable relationships are what lead to happiness, and this is at the core of minimalism or "intentional living".
So, with my new aversion to "stuff", I've stopped asking for things. My family has asked what I want for Christmas, and my answer is that I really want, well, nothing. I don't need more stuff. I have too much stuff. My goal now is to get rid of stuff.
Which brings me back to that 30 day challenge. A couple days ago I started getting rid of stuff. Just one item each day, for 30 days. On December 20th, I will get rid of my 30th item and I will own less stuff. It's not all big possessions. It could be anything from that old sheet of paper I've been too lazy to deal with to the t-shirt I haven't worn in a couple months. I'll be recycling, giving away, selling, or simply trashing 30 items. One day at a time. It's simple now, but I may have some tougher choices 20 items from now.
It's only a start. And making a significant lifestyle change doesn't happen overnight, or even within a month. But I've got to start somewhere. By getting rid of my excess stuff, I'll start making room for the people and activities I truly care about. Don't believe me? There's some data to suggest the average person spends 9.5 hours a day living for stuff, instead of living life. This is certainly worth a try.