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I am a localization manager/translator and intercultural consultant living in Berlin (Germany), passionate about languages, cultures, diversity management, body art, dancing, self-empowerment, coaching, effective communication and, last but not least, vegan gluten-free food and good movies.

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Friday, October 13, 2017

Why decluttering one's life, one day at the time, could be the most important thing you will ever do - Part 2. Minimalist living - How this shapes my life every day (#1.-4.)

Coco Chanel, featured in 1999 in TIME magazine's "Time 100: The Most Important People of the Century", is still one of the most well known and most quoted fashion designers to have ever lived, and doesn't need any kind of introduction.

Madame was all about quality over quantity, and she was used to saying: "Once you've dressed, and before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take at least one thing off". She knew that, way more often than we'd like to think, less is more.

["Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance",
or said in another way: quality over quantity matters]

Just like the timeless style created by the woman that invented the little black dress and chose the future Chanel No.5 among different perfume samples presented to her, minimalist living is not a fortuitous occurrence.

Embracing a minimalist living means being bold enough to take the path less traveled and smart enough to make the right decisions and to adjust your trajectory on the way, every time that you need to.

To me, it also means being willing to say no. And to appreciate the few things/habits/choices etc I decide say yes to. Every no counts. Every yes counts. Because I let them count and because I ask myself what I want to say yes/no to. So every yes is special, and every no is meaningful and each of them is a further step in the direction I want to go.

[Gabrielle Bonheur "Coco" Chanel [1883-1971]
famously said stuff like: 
"The most courageous act 
is still to think for yourself. Aloud"]

How does this work for me, concretely speaking?
As promised, I am listing here how this shapes my life every single day.

#1. Buying only things that add value to my life in the long run. 
After flirting with the concept for over a decade, two years ago I finally committed to the idea of embracing a frugal lifestyle and owning the decision, without regrets. 100%. All in.
I spent six months while analyzing my spending patterns and habits and identifying wants and needs, then I made a list of my priorities, I prepared a monthly budget divided into categories, to be checked regularly while keeping track of my expenses, in order to improve it over time, and I decided to stick to it.

I buy only what I will use on a daily, weekly or monthly basis (groceries, make-up and body care products, clothes, shoes, kitchen items, and so on), and workshops and classes that add value to my life and can teach me useful skills, both on a personal and on a professional level.
This, to me, is making an investment in my present and my future, while paying it forward to my future self and knowing that the quality of the decisions I am taking today will determine the quality of the life I will live tomorrow.

[Ruby Shoo's Daisy Olive pumps,
with a gorgeous teal and golden flowery pattern.
Do I like them? Hell yes!
Do I have something to wear them with? Nope.
Am I going to buy them? Nope]

#2. Choosing to spend my money (and therefore my time) in a meaningful way.
That wonderful and bigger than life pair of sexy pumps in a color that doesn't match with anything in my closet?
That glossy lipstick that I know, if I am honest with myself, that I will never wear even if it looks great on the ads?
That inviting unicorn coloring book that I would never use and yet it is just so cute?

If I see something fancy and yet I know that I am not going to use/enjoy it on a regular basis, I don't buy it, because every item I buy not only takes place in my flat and costs me money, but it costs me also time I have to work for gaining that money in the first place.
In some kind of way, every item I buy contributes to reducing or having an impact on my spare time, because the more stuff I buy, the more money I spend, the more time I have to work for the money/the items, the less spare time I have for myself.

To me, it is very useful to think about how many hours I have to work for buying something, how often I am going to use it and how having (or not having...) it will impact my life in a long run, so that I can easily understand if it is worth my time/money or not, if it is going to enrich my life or just to make me time-poor.

Time is precious and, above all, limited. Working more only in order to be able to spend more money on more pointless stuff... it is, indeed, useless and harmful to me.

Sketch Guy by Carl Richards
The New York Times]

#3. Decluttering where I live and where I work.
It is not surprising that Feng shui and similar philosophical systems have been followed for many centuries: the places where we live, work and do any kind of activities deeply influence our lives, our thoughts, our emotions and our well-being.

A decluttered space is for me a more pleasant and welcoming space.
Decluttering my flat means to me not only buying less, but also being honest with myself about what I already have and how my belongings affect and shape the place where I spend my time.
I am working on becoming a zero-accumulation household: for every new item I buy or bring home, one item already present in my flat will be sold, not replaced after being consumed/getting damaged, given as a gift or given away otherwise.

Day by day, step by step, one object at the time, with patience and acceptance for what is, I check what is in my apartment, donate or give away stuff I will no longer use or I never used, I choose to repair or let repair broken stuff I want to keep, instead of buying something new, and I throw away what is broken and I will not use any more.
The main point is to do it on a regular basis. As Goethe would say, "Do not hurry; do not rest".

#4. Downsizing my life, one aspect at the time.
Every yes counts, every no counts. Every object I own, every item I buy, every "thing" I have is part of my life and, while embracing the concept of minimalist living, I decided to own less, to buy less, to have less.

[Every yes counts, every no counts.
They have an impact on the quality of your life]

For some people, it could be perceived as a sacrifice, but to me, it has been very liberating so far. It frees up space, energy, time, money that I don't need to use/invest in storing, taking care of, cleaning, paying attention to and buying or repairing or upgrading stuff I decided to live without in the first place. This makes every object I decide to own way more meaningful to me, because I chose them among all the possible objects available.

I don't feel the need to be defined by what I own and I choose to own less and to use my time in another way. If you want to know more, stay tuned for the second part of this post!

Tags: Minimalism, Minimalism life, Minimalist principles, Alternative lifestyle, Decluttering, Downsizing