The onset of spring delivers the promise of new beginnings. It nudges us to reflect and ask how can we live happier, freer, and lighter. And in my experience, achieving a more fulfilling life is about not chasing more but thriving with less. As a minimalist, I definitely partake in this annual spring ritual of cleansing and clearing out. However, my spring cleaning is not restricted to my physical possessions. It includes looking at other categories—mental, emotional, and financial—that influence my day-to-day and enable me to live a happier existence. Here's a peek into my approach:
The question I ask before getting started.
Minimalism is a lifestyle that evolves with time. It's also deeply personal; no two minimalists are the same, and what works for one might not work for another. For that reason, it's important to kick off cleaning by focusing on what's essential for me in that moment. I encourage you to do the same.
Set aside a quiet time and ask yourself honestly, "Who are the people and what are the things that are essential to my happiness or add value to my life?" These are the people and things (physical belongings, activities, experiences) that you cannot live without. Remember, minimalism should be about joy, not deprivation. Put these essential people and things on a list and resolve to focus the bulk of your time and resources on them in the year ahead. Make them a priority, and move forward from there.
A minimalist's to-do list for effective spring cleaning.
1. Clear physical, mental, and scheduling space.
Clearing all kinds of space provides peace and calm and pushes away the clutter that may be holding you back.
Start by clearing physical space. Does your kitchen table or desk stress you out because it's so difficult to clean? Try tidying one space at a time by asking, "Does this add joy and value to my life?" If yes, keep. If no, discard or pass it on to someone else who needs it more than you do. Questioning our belongings will make us more mindful consumers, reduce our clutter, and save us money in the process.
Next, move on to your relationships. Evaluating our relationships and commitments will help us invest our time and resources in people and activities that inspire and energize us. Is there someone in your life who drains your energy and tends to put you down? Whenever possible, we should surround ourselves with people who truly care about and support us. We all have our reasons for clinging on to relationships that are past their sell-by date or people who hold us back. But we all deserve better.
Then, think about your schedule: Is it packed to the brim, leaving you with little time for yourself and loved ones? Start clearing away a few nonessential commitments at a time. Sometimes saying no is difficult, but if we want to reclaim our time to pursue that which really matters to us, we have to learn to say it—and often. Though saying it may be awkward and difficult at first, this word will eventually become liberating.
2. Stock up on some positive beliefs and values.
I'm a big believer that our thoughts and emotions create our reality. Negative patterns like low self-esteem, worry, stress, and anger bring about negative outcomes that are detrimental to our precious energy. Like most people, I fall into my fair share of these negative thoughts. However, I've become better at dealing with them by working on being more aware of them, acknowledging their presence, and then letting them go, one breath at a time. Rather than let them overwhelm me, I try to watch them and hopefully nip them in the bud before they spiral out of control. The next time a negative thought or emotion comes up for you, try to just watch it, take a deep breath, and release it or replace it with something more positive.
3. Work toward financial freedom.
Our finances can free us or chain us. They can mean more options or more debt. You may not be happy with your current bank balance, but remind yourself that acknowledging your financial situation—whatever it may be—is the first step toward taking back control.
This spring, as you're organizing your home and clearing your social schedule, ask yourself what unnecessary items you are spending money on. From my personal experience, little expenditures here and there can really add up. Focus on not just spending less but also on investing more in the things that give you the joy and value you identified at the beginning of the practice.
For me, spring cleaning doesn’t happen only in spring—it’s an ongoing journey. We might be fired up to do it in one fell swoop, but it tends to be more effective when we start small. Focus on a few things, and turn them into habits. Once they become a part of your routine, you will enjoy a simpler life and create the space for what's truly essential to your happiness.
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