Several years ago we moved overseas for a year. The mammoth task of packing up our house and deciding what to take was bestowed upon me and I was up for the challenge. 1 suitcase per person for 1 year. Initially I panicked, I tried to find the biggest suitcases I could to pack as much stuff in each one, thinking to myself that if I needed to, I could always put more of my precious and much-needed things in the kids' suitcases (how much does a 4 year old really need anyway, and surely they are going to grow out of everything in a few months, right?)
Whilst I have always looked upon travellers who head off for a month away with tiny hand luggage only with envy, I did ultimately let go and get down to the basics - it was an accomplishment and the first step on my path to honing in on what was essential to me. There were things that we took with us that to someone else might have seemed trivial, space wasters, insignificant but to us, were important elements that make us us.
I was reminded of this experience of embracing the essentials re-reading Greg McKeown's book Essentialism.
Image credit: Beth Kirby from Local Milk Blog
The heart of essentialism isn't about asking how little we can live with, but determining what we simply cannot live without.
Clearly, as a business consultant McKeown approaches the subject from a workplace perspective, but each and every tip is applicable to the way we all run our lives. As he says "In the same way that our closets get cluttered as clothes we never wear accumulate, so do our lives get cluttered as well-intended commitments and activities we've said yes to pile up." Clutter is clutter whether it is in our wardrobes at home or at our work.
Minimalism or simple living has never just been about sacrificing or getting rid of stuff. Like essentialism, the pursuit of simplicity has always been arriving at a deep understanding of what leads to a happy and meaningful life. McKeown says, "In many ways, to live as an Essentialist in our too-many-things-all-the-time society is an act of quiet revolution. Is it better than minimalism or a simple life? You decide, but regardless of what you call it, I think it is smart to pursue less so we can become more.
Check out Kinfolk Magazine's Essentials Issue.