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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.