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What living a minimalistic life has taught me

About a year ago I learned about minimalism from Youtube videos and the two dudes who call themselves the Minimalists. In the end of June last year, I wrote a blog post about the first steps in my journey. After having a fruitful discussion about the topic with a friend on Wednesday, I decided to write a follow-up based on my experience and learnings from the past year.

A lot has happened in a year. Last summer I got rid of a lot of stuff I didn’t really need: started with excess clothes and TV and the snowball kinda started rolling from there. I moved to Helsinki in April and did two new huge rounds of decluttering.

Backpacker’s life #

Currently I’m living a backpacker’s life, kinda accidentally. When I started my new job in new city in April, I didn’t want to get a new “permanent” apartment until I’d figure out what I really wanted. With most apartments having a minimum lease of 12 months and being burned with that way too many times, I took another approach.

A friend was traveling abroad so he offered me his room for the first two months. Quickly after that, I learned that another friend was gonna travel for three weeks and even before I moved into his apartment, I found one similar deal for the following month. Everything I use I carry in my traveling backpack and my smaller daily backpack — and I’m loving it.

My goal is to be able to become a digital nomad: traveling around the world while working remotely, learning from new cultures and experiences the wonders of the world. But I had to practice it first — if I couldn’t do it in Helsinki while having a regular job, how could I do it in a more stressful environment.

Having friends who travel a lot helps in this lifestyle. There’s always a startup entrepreneur or a traveller in my network who’s planning on longer trips around the world.

Less stuff == less stress #

I’m happy to say I’m enjoying life to the fullest right now. I do still have a warehouse storage for my furniture and bunch of boxes I haven’t figured out yet. But I haven’t used that stuff in two months now and I haven’t missed anything from there.

With less stuff, you get less stress. Less cleaning up to do, less dishes to wash, less decisions to make. My kitchenware consists of a Monbento bento box, one pair of chopsticks, a Dropp x Sigg water bottle and a large mug. In my warehouse I have a pot, a cutting board and a frying pan but for now, I’ve been able to use those from the apartments I’m living in. With that collection of stuff, I’ve been able to eat everything I need without ever having a sink full of dirty dishes.

No more stuff for other people to see #

One thing I kinda knew but never had the courage to admit to myself nor others is that I owned a lot of stuff for other people to see. I had my collection of Ghibli movies on DVD that I never watched (thanks to online streaming services) but wanted to keep in my shelf so if someone visited, they could see that I love Ghibli.

I kept my old Slush crew t-shirts so that if someone asked, I could show them or wear them in alumni meetings. I still do have two Slush t-shirts and a Slush hoodie ’cause they are great and ecological Pure Waste quality.

Getting rid of those items, I freed so much space — both physical and mental — for more important things. No longer do I care about what other people might think when they see my stuff. Because the fact is they never cared, it was all just in my head.

It’s different #

If someone would have told me 5 years ago that I would be living without a permanent address or apartment with everything I own living in my backpack and actually enjoying it, I wouldn’t have believed. I used to enjoy rules and structure and stable over adventurous but I’m so happy I learned to embrace the unknown.

Learning how to work productively without large monitors and bunch of peripherals has helped me become more flexible and given me more freedom. I can work from a kitchen, a cafe, a co-working space or an office equally. And I’ll always carry what I need to get stuff done.

Different things work for different people and the amount of stuff isn’t really what matters. So don’t take this as a guide to getting rid of everything and being happy because it’s not. You might be miserable. Heck, even I might become miserable when my life situation changes. That’s why it’s important to think about the why over the how.