Five things that made me happier in the last year

Back in April of 2017, I stumbled up on the Netflix documentary Minimalism. It spoke to me immediately and by the end of the day, I would watch it twice. Since that day, I’ve changed a lot of things in my life to make room for more. More happiness, more fun, more experiences, more space and more freedom. Today I finally want to share with you why I made these changes.

The documentary showed me how I was trying to hoard happiness. My self-worth, my mood and eventually my happiness were depending on the accumulation of stuff. The latest fragrance launch, that designer scarf, the next technology gadget,… I’d make wishlists, tick things off and go on to the next item. It was a never ending circle. And instead of bringing me this (false?) sense of joy, it was just creating more frustration.

Then, there is the aftermath. Where do you store all these things? How do you feel about them? Every time I opened one of my skincare drawers, I felt overwhelmed and frustrated. All these things that I wanted to use – but I have only one face! Oh. First world problems. And the same goes for all the different handbags, makeup, body lotions and so on. There is nothing wrong with stuff. I don’t judge anyone who gets joy from material possessions (I do too!) or who collects an abundance of things. Please, be yourself. I just experienced that all this “mindless consuming”, the unintentional accumulation of things, didn’t add anything to my life. So I changed five things.

I got rid of excess.
On the hottest day of the year (no kidding), I got in head-first and sorted out my entire room. Everything from old documents over clothes and of course, all my beauty stuff. I made piles to throw away, give away and sell. I promised to never accumulate so much stuff again because for the first time I realized: I don’t need it.

I sold and gave away more than 735 beauty products.
Yes, that number is correct. They were not easy to part from but I’m happy that all the products that I couldn’t have used up in one lifetime, found a better home. They were gathering dust, nearing their expiration date and making me nervous. Not only do they live in better homes now, they also raised money for Red Nose Day. This is one of my personal highlights of 2017.

I digitize.
Our memories are not in things, they live in our mind. So when I moved the same boxes filled with “memories” for the gazillionth time, I took pictures and scans of everything in there. Everything that was meaningful to me. Old diaries, pictures, souvenirs that I hadn’t taken out in years. Then I got rid of the stuff and created folders in my iCloud Drive. Not only do these memories don’t take up any space, ironically, they’re even more accessible to me now. More recently, I’m also scanning (I use Scanbot for iPhone) all the paper that enters my home and that I need to keep for one purpose or another. Because, see 1.

I wait.
Before I adopted some principles of minimalism  in my life, this would have read: I impulse buy. If it was bad, I would even shop online every single day. It was my drug, my addiction, my pacifier. Now, I wait. And you know what? As the cliché promises you already, I don’t shop that often anymore. I buy things intentionally because I know that I don’t “need” everything I think I do.

I create.
When my default mode before was to consume products and things – my new found love for creating has replaced that. I’m still a big consumer of podcasts, books, series, more documentaries – and there is nothing wrong with that. But the hours of mindless online shopping, the time I spent in desire of more things, I now spend it differently. By writing this article for example.

Seeing that documentary, opened my eyes. It didn’t only influence my life, it also reflects in the relationships around me. I am still figuring out my ideal balance, slowly but surely. It took me a while to gain perspective on the ways these things made a difference for me in order to write about it and to share my story. In no way I want to judge, offend or criticize others. I’m a big fan of “you do you” and the world would be a boring place if we were all the same.

There’s this big hype around all things bearing a minimalism-stamp these days but I won’t let that get in the way of sharing what I care about. In the end, I’m pretty sure that you won’t change your lifestyle only for a hype. My hope is that you find real value in these articles and since this had such a positive impact on my life, I’m dedicated to share more minimalism stories. I’m here for all your questions in the comments.