• Gisèle Schembri

Minimalism and A Year of Buying 'Nothing'

I have now been a Minimalist for many years and even experienced a year of living in one room very successfully. The more I stripped myself from unnecessary worldly useless possessions, the more peace I found within myself. Granted that this approach to life might not work for everyone, it worked wonderfully for myself and so I embrace Minimalism as a worthy choice for my lifestyle.


Many regard Minimalism as the ‘absence of things’ and others go to the extreme of trying to live literally out of a suitcase, in their bid to clear their life of all possessions. However the term Minimalism refers to something much more yielding and workable for the average person, since it really and truly refers to living life with whatever is essential and stripping away all that is superfluous to your particular life and needs. It never requires anyone to get rid of their beautiful dresses, destroy their notebook collection or even give up their TV set, should they believe that item to be a worthy addition to their life. What Minimalism strives to do, rather than strip us of experiences and things, is to make us more conscious of our choices and how much time and money we spend on regrettable choices, as it were. It rids us of all that we actually do not even want, to find and embrace that which we actually do.


William Morris, a creative artist/entrepreneur and activist who lived in the 19th century, coined the very popular phrase ‘Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be beautiful or believe to be useful’. Meanwhile, Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, advises us all to keep that which ‘Sparks Joy’.


Both these are inspirational quotes to how I love to live my own life. Whilst I do understand the uniqueness of each individual and the allure that Maximalism might have for some, I personally embrace Minimalism whilst ensuring to not give up what brings me Beauty and therefore Joy around me.


The lifestyle Minimalism is unrelated to Minimalism as a furniture concept. If there is one thing I shudder to look at, it is a sleek white counter devoid of any personality or a sliding wardrobe that screams function over form. Meanwhile I would willingly buy a piece of shabby chic furniture for no use other than simply to spruce up my home with something that I consider beautiful to look at.


For this reason, I have found that once I gave up my one-room rental for my current bigger apartment, which now houses also a tween and three cats, the extra space allowed me to go on shopping sprees that have both added beauty to my home and deducted funds from my bank account.

Just as I embrace Minimalism as my lifestyle of choice, I also see the point of reducing extra expenditure in order to be able to have my dream job for example over working a soul-crushing job which would give me more money to fund extraneous purchases.


As a result, I have decided to embark on a one-year no-spend challenge for myself. The title of this blog puts the word nothing in inverted commas, because it is truly unrealistic to take the word ‘nothing’ literally in this case. There will still be bills to pay, a car to maintain, and food to buy. I will not be limiting myself from buying an extra tub of ice cream for dessert or deny myself the pleasurable experience of keeping my hair expertly dyed and replacing any consumables that run out. I will not stop buying my preferred purple pens just for having blue ones left to work with or say, a new notebook if I run out of empty pages.

However, I will be curbing my online browsing and spending habit and try to ‘make do’ rather than buy new stuff ‘just because’. I will curb my instinctive lure towards owning always more crystals and ensure to use up the candles I have in my cupboard before stocking new ones. I will also ensure to be more conscious of the time freed up by giving up this shopping pastime and using the hours to work on myself and my new book instead, as well as on nurturing friendships and spending time in the fresh air.

As with every tough decision, this one brought me a fear not only of whether I would succeed, but also of how well I could tackle the emotional side of giving up on getting new pretty things. I tried to reason with myself that if I don’t allow myself to look up things I will not have to face leaving them un-bought. So my mind peskily tried one more time to convince me of how difficult this is going to be by brandishing the one item that I already know I intended to buy as soon as it is back in stock.


And so ladies and gentlemen, I decided to state here and now my intent that for a whole year, save for the one item on my wish list already (a statue representing Selina Fenech’s ‘Guardian’ painting), I will not be buying anything at all that I can actually do without.


Image by Karolina Grabowska from Pixabay


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