By Ericka Carr |

Before Marie Kondo had everyone questioning what sparked joy in their lives, The Minimalists, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, were encouraging people to abandon their lives of money and materialism for a simpler lifestyle.

I first learned about minimalism when I watched Millburn and Nicodemus’ documentary, “Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things”, with my mom and sister a few years ago. In the film, The Minimalists are traveling the country on a book tour and “sharing a recipe” for minimalism, educating people on its benefits.

I was blown away by the concept that letting go of the want for material things gives way to a more meaningful life filled with more meaningful relationships. In fact, I was so amazed that I started applying minimalist practices to my life. The older I get, the more I want to dive head-first into minimalism.

So for five days, I took Millburn’s advice, pulled together everything in my dorm room and asked myself, “does this add value to my life?”

I said goodbye to anything on my walls or desk that didn’t have a real purpose, limited my clothing and accessories to 15 pieces, chose only three pairs of shoes (tragic, I know) and even cut down my makeup and skincare routines to the bare minimum. I packed away the decorative pillows on my bed, my very cozy (but not necessary) throw blanket and even my second pillow that does nothing but sit on my bed just in case I feel the need to use it, which I never do. To make sure I wasn’t tempted to cheat, I hid everything that wasn’t considered minimalist in a tote.

Day one was a total bust.

You’d think that after living in Texas for ten years I would have accounted for its ever-changing weather, but I didn’t. The two sweaters I picked out weren’t enough, so I had to pull my coat and a pair of warm boots out of the forbidden tote. It definitely wasn’t the start that I had hoped for.

Thankfully, the rest of the week went much more smoothly. My biggest struggle throughout the week (as my fellow Bundle writer Elyse predicted) was wearing only one outfit a day.

Yep. I’m that person— the one that changes clothes a million times a day.

Okay, maybe it’s not a million. But it’s more uncommon for me to wear one outfit a day than it is for me to wear four. I typically change two to three times a day depending on where I’m going and who’s going to be there.

But isn’t that the reason I tried minimalism? To step away from this mindset that I have to impress people with my possessions?

When I got dressed in the morning, I just grabbed a shirt and pants. I didn’t try on five outfits first or look in the mirror 20,000 times or question whether what I was wearing was “me” enough. I knew every piece of clothing in my closet was one that I liked.

When I went to return the forbidden clothes to my closet, I was overwhelmed. It gave me anxiety to try and sort through everything I had stuffed into the tote. After first learning about minimalism, I applied a “30-day rule” to my closet: if I haven’t worn an item for 30 days and I don’t plan on wearing it in the next 30 days, I get rid of it. Even with this practice, I own A LOT of clothing.

For a week, my room was without clutter and that was so freeing. So, guess who’s going to Plato’s Closet and Goodwill next week?

The practicality of abandoning all your possessions and living with only the bare necessities is limited, but what we learn from minimalism is a realistic way to let go of materialism and add value back into our lives. The Minimalists recognize that there is sentimental value in certain things, so it’s okay to hold onto those things.That’s why they call their idea of minimalism a recipe— it’s more of an outline to inspire people to apply minimalism to their lives rather than a hard and fast rule.

I could never let go of any of my vinyl records, books or coffee mugs because most of them were gifts from people I love or are attached to an important memory. By holding onto items of significance, you’re actually following the recipe.

Minimalism teaches us to stop buying cheap things and invest in what really matters. Invest in memories, vacations and time. Invest in others. Set aside the things that supposedly make you better and make time for the people and values that do make you better.

If you’re interested in learning more about The Minimalists, you can find their documentary, “Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things”, on Netflix.