Having been a minimalist now for nearly two years, my life has really pared down since I first started. I have culled my wardrobe, cleaned out those boxes, donated and sold a large portion of my possessions, and now the question remains, what do I do with all this time, energy, and space?
This seems to be a common question among people starting out with minimalism, and it makes sense. Modern society, as a whole, is engrossed with the demand to acquire, spend, collect, and accumulate stuff. It’s what we do. Consumerism has falsely taught us that we can buy our happiness, and this philosophy whether we believe it in our hearts, has influenced our thought processes. So now when we eliminate the clutter and physical burdens from our lives, we are forced to ask ourselves, what next? After the past two years of my free time being spent deciding what to keep, what to send, and how to go about ridding myself of the excess, I now find myself with a relatively empty room, trying to discern what to focus on next.
Being intentional is intimidating at times. The open space forces me to become a bit more philosophical, because my thoughts are no longer distracted by the clutter around me. Boredom can be a serious issue when you are no longer spending your life focused on the things you want. Contentment, though it fosters mental health in one way, can create a bored mind.
My answer is simple however, don’t allow yourself to grow stagnant. Contentment is one thing, stagnation is another. It is important that in clearing out your physical space, that you keep your mind engaged. Take this extra time you have and devote it to, you guessed it, being intentional. Minimalism is all about uncovering purpose, and don’t give up when you are just beginning. Surprisingly the easy part is getting rid of your things, the hard part is deciding what to do with the space (physical, mental, and spiritual).
Below, I have compiled of list of ways you can fill that blank space with intentional practices. I myself am not perfect, and as I am only beginning to enter this phase of minimalism, I speak more as a friend sharing a personal journey than an expert. However, here are my simple suggestions based off of personal experience for helping to embrace this newer, emptier lifestyle of less is more!
- Plant a garden. The time spent outside is refreshing to both the mind and body, and it is amazing how philosophical one can be when pulling weeds and watching little buds grow!
- Write. Whether it’s that best selling novel you’ve been planning for forever, or simply a little journal entry, writing is a great way to help cleanse a cluttered mind or expand a little wisp of a thought.
- Paint. (Or sketch). It’s amazing how once the clutter is gone, there is room to appreciate what wasn’t being appreciated before. Take on an art project. Now that you are not constantly cleaning and burdened with a life of consumerism, you now have the time to dedicate to a more intensive art project.
- Run. Take some time to appreciate your physical health and abilities. Get some sweat dripping and your blood pumping. It will make you feel great all around, and it is always a good feeling to go to bed with some soar muscles. Just remember, it’s not about skinny, its about being healthy. Strong is the goal, not anorexic skinny.
- Bake. Take some time to enjoy your kitchen. Try a new recipe, or bake a favorite dessert. The smell alone is worth it!
- Paint your nails. Whether you like bright, flamboyant colors or soothing neutrals, painting your nails is a great way to make you feel confident. (It also takes a good amount of time to dry, so you might want to have something to do while you wait).
- Blog. Ok, I’m a little biased, but blogging is a great way to share your thoughts and experiences with others. And if you don’t feel comfortable writing your own blog, you can always take some time to look up new blogs that are relevant to you.
- Read. Expand your mind (or maybe your genre). Reading is a wonderful pastime that often gets lost in our movie/TV series dominated society. Reading not only expands your imagination, but it is a great way to expand your vocabulary!
- Go Kayaking. (Or paddle-boarding/canoeing). Its wonderful to spend time on the water, and its also a great workout. Take some time to appreciate the great outdoors. It’s amazing how quickly you can lose track of time on the water.
- Write a letter. I know my last blog post was about this, but it really is an amazing pastime! It is a lovely way to communicate, and I find that I open up much more easily through a physical letter than a text message.
It’s just a few suggestions, but hopefully they help get the ball rolling. If you have any extra ideas, I’d be more than happy to hear them in the comment section below!