So you’ve decided you want to be a minimalist.
But not everyone in your life or family wants to do it.
- Do it just for yourself -- stop shopping, get rid of your clutter and control your life
- Do it by example — show them how happy and fun it is to have less
- Don’t push it onto them — no one wants to be bossed around
- Set boundaries – kids love toys, but they don’t need to have every toy out there
- Engage them – ask them to help you in your daily tasks and explain
Those are all self-explanatory, but there are also other things you should keep in mind:
You can take minimalism too far!
My BF is already a minimalist.
Sometimes, he goes too minimalist, and it bites him in the ass.
For example, he recently had to go out and replace the white button up shirt to wear to a wedding, he had recently donated.
And he donated these nice cups to my parents (who are in desperate need of kitchenware, as they refuse to buy anything even if things start breaking), but then we realized we only had 2 cups left for ourselves and we were about to have friends over for dinner the next week.
So we had to spend some money buying new cups for ourselves.
I was a tad annoyed at wasting money, and it is my job to keep him from being TOO minimal.
I am a minimalist first and foremost, for myself
So, I do it for myself, because I know I still have to keep up on my habits.
Even after 2 years, I am still not fully disciplined.
It’s because I am battling against my own internal mechanism to continue to love having stuff, and my motivation is not to get rid of everything, but to find a good balance between a rock and a hard place (too much stuff vs. not enough)
But that balance, is tricky when you have to really get down to: What is considered a ‘need’ and a ‘want’?
It is horribly easy to justify having 6 pairs of work trousers because you work (one for each weekday, one as a spare), when if you think about it, you only need maybe 2 or 3 trousers for the whole week.
I try to engage my family
They think I’m a bit of a hippie.
In fact, I’m pretty sure my family thinks I’m poor and cheap, which is the reason why I don’t buy as much as I used to, I sleep on a futon on the floor and I’ve turned more ‘natural’. They also can’t believe my apartment my studio apartment in 2009/2010 is so bare and minimalist.
My parents actually support my newly developed habits seeing as they grew up as Baby Boomers in poverty, and they don’t like to spend money so they will find ways to keep any useless artifact that crosses their path just in case.
Note: Thanks to 2 readers who caught my typing snafu.
I originally wanted to write: My parents support my habits seeing as their parents grew up during the Depression, alluding to the fact that they had adopted the attitude of my grandparents. My parents also grew up in dirt-poor poverty even after things ‘recovered’.
My siblings however (with the exception of one brother) thinks I’m on the verge of buying a Love Wagon and giving up my corporate career.
With that in mind, this is what I do:
My father will store everything
Even old tissue boxes, because he likes using them to hold knick knacks or he just can’t bear to throw away something that looks so much like a storage box.
C’mon now! With that method in mind, I just start tossing stuff. He won’t miss it and if he complains, there’s always another empty box around the corner to appease him.
My mom will not get rid of anything
My mom SAYS she wants to be less cluttered and have less stuff, but she refuses to throw anything away.
The clutter just moves from room to room, getting re-organized and itemized, but never actually leaving the home (the most important part).
I try to engage my mom by gently asking her if she needs that item or trying to get her to part with it by coaxing. Other times, I’ll just get frustrated and throw it all into big black garbage bags, grab the car and drive to Goodwill. 9 times out of 10, she never misses any of it.
In fact, she comes back and says: Wow everything is so neatly organized!
Uh yeah. *cough*
My sister is still an impulse shopaholic
As for my sister, she buys a lot on impulse, regrets it, and has a wardrobe full of black clothing with tags still on them. I have yet to go visit her to spend a weekend cleaning her closet.
(Yes, I’m planning on staging an intervention soon.)
I’d like to go to her apartment for a weekend or a week, and just go through everything. Dump it all on the floor, make her try on things and give her my honest opinion of how she looks in it, then shift things into a Donate pile, Toss pile and be done with it.
I promise to document it. In the meantime, this is how I cleaned my closet.
My one minimalist-like brother is too cheap to buy anything.
Therefore, he doesn’t buy anything to fill up his apartment because he’s motivated by money. I don’t need to tell him anything. He already knows.
My second brother lives in a McMansion.
My other brother is a lost cause. He just way too much space, so I just close my eyes and take a deep breath when I enter his McMansion. They have a whole basement of neatly labeled boxes filled with CRAP. They HATE moving and they complain if they have to do it (even once every 5 years or more), but they won’t get rid of anything.
They just label it neatly, throw it into a box and pretend everything is fine.
With them… quite frankly, I can’t say anything. They’re still caught up in the wheel of consumerism and if I say a single word, they’ll get upset with me. All I can do is just keep mentioning how NICE it is to feel free without stuff. Hinting. Waiting for them to ask questions and become interested.
The above methods work, but ultimately, just doing it for yourself is the best way to start so people can see that you are leading by example.