This post is the first of 3 emails we were asked to write for the Wellness Warriors Lifestyle Boot Camp offered by Dr. Jamie Thomure of DuPage Family Wellness.  Dr. Jamie first launched a Nutrition Boot Camp in 2017 which Joelle and I have both participated in and seen the benefits!  The Wellness Warriors Lifestyle Boot Camp was recently launched to go beyond nutrition into everyday healthy lifestyle choices.  We highly recommend checking out these Boot Camp’s along with the many other services being offered at DuPage Family Wellness!

Wellness Warriors Part 1:  Minimal

Dear Wellness Warrior,

First off, thank you for embarking on this increasingly important journey to help shape a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle.  Future generations, both for people and the planet, depend on the work you are doing!

Have you noticed that minimalism is a trend lately?  Tiny this… micro that.  On one hand I applaud our culture for this recognition of over-consumption and the push to cut back.  On the other hand, it points out one rather jarring fact:  we live in a maximalist society.  Before industrialization, minimalist living was the only way of life that sustained our ancestors for generations.  There was no other option.  Nothing was convenient.  Nothing was cheap.  Everything (travel, food, entertainment, shelter, etc.) had to be planned out, worked toward, and earned.  Maximalism, the basis from which we start today, has produced a societal mindset to ignore the social, economic, and environmental effects of our consumption and instead focus on accumulating the most stuff for the cheapest price possible.

I am a firm believer that if you want to change your lifestyle you have to set the bar very high.  You can’t just focus on where you want to be.  You have to focus on people and practices that are well beyond that point, or you will only ever take baby steps toward your goals.  To do this, when Joelle and I first started considering simplifying and minimizing our lives, we went straight to the top!  That’s right – we started following the lives of people living out of RV’s and Tiny Homes full time and studying their habits, their successes, their struggles, and how the heck they got there in the first place.

What we found was that many of them lived a pretty typical life, with homes full of possessions, but couldn’t take it anymore.  More than stuff, they wanted experiences, real worth, genuineness, and to live life to the fullest every day.  They wanted to be free!

Taking some tips from people that went from 3,000 to 300 sf of space, we started a journey that ended in purging around 50% of what we owned.  Our rules were simple, 1)  If it hasn’t been used in the last year, it goes.  And 2)  You can only keep it if it presently adds value to your life.  From a tip on a tiny home podcast, we went the route of setting a timer and spending 20 minutes going at it each night.  This was just the right amount of time to not get burnt out but still make steady progress.  Usually this meant tackling one box or one shelf a night.  We eventually made it through our entire house and had decluttered significantly!  And we even made some money selling things along the way!

Here are some things we learned during the process and since:

  1. We have a lot of stuff!  And even with getting rid of so much, we still feel like we have an abundance.  It makes you wonder why it was there in the first place?
  2. Everything we now bring into our home is intentional.  To not wind up in the same place 5 years from now, we really question each item we bring into our lives and the purpose it will serve.  Does it add real value, not just advertised value?
  3. We noticed that so much of what we got rid of was designed to be disposable in the first place.  We are a culture that values cheapness over quality.  Ditch the disposable and only bring quality items into your life you can someday imagine handing off to your children.
  4. You can say no!  People like to give you things – it’s human nature.  Realize that anything that is free isn’t actually free and you can say no to things that come your way.  Having a toddler, we’ve averted many overflowing toy chests, closets, and dressers using this strategy!
  5. We’ve borrowed more!  That’s right – we no longer have everything.  So sometimes we need to look to family, friends, and neighbors to lend something from.  This has been a very positive thing and usually goes both ways.
  6. We don’t miss anything!  In fact, we love our home more than ever, feel less stressed, and have freed up more time by having less to manage.

Happy minimizing! 🙂

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