June 5, 2011
In my memoir post I mentioned I had a lot of new ideas... and I do, for both my blog and my life.
Right before everything happened, I had been feeling very frustrated with life. I felt that there were certain obstacles holding me back from being truly happy. That's when this quote came in and changed everything:
Know that happiness is always available to you. The moment you see the truth of this, you can be happy right away. There's nothing that needs to happen first for you to be happy. You don't need to do anything else, go anywhere else, reform yourself, or become a different person. Happiness is very simple. It's only our tendency to complicate things that makes it difficult.
My friend Bethany stumbled across it in an old issue of Whole Living and emailed it to everyone she knew. It was exactly what I needed to hear.
Of course hearing it, believing it, and making it actually happen, are three very different things. I was having trouble seeing the truth of it, I guess, and then I lost my job. and I almost lost my Dad.
Coming out of those experiences, though, granted me a new outlook on life --- one that finally allowed me to see the truth in the those words and find instant happiness.
For me, creating happiness comes from removing outside stress, negativity and static to every extent possible. One semester in college a teacher said to my class, "Today, you all start with A's, it's your job to keep it" and that's how I feel about happiness.
I'm a happy person by nature. I start my day with a glass full of happiness and it's the outside world that drinks it up. If I wanted to feel fully happy all the time, I realized it was my job to protect my glass and it's contents. I had to avoid or remove the monsters that drank from my glass.
Enter: minimalist living.
As someone who grew up with packrats, I'm the opposite. I LOVE to get rid of things. LOVE IT. I'm on a first name basis with most of the volunteers at GoodWill. I save nothing and sometimes this bites me, but any loss is a drop in the bucket compared to the bliss I feel everytime I move something out of my living space.
But not having excess is not enough for me, clearly, because I still felt stressed and frazzled by my surroundings.
Since I always felt my best, felt the least stressed, when my home was clean and everything was put away neatly, I thought I'd strive to maintain that hotel-neat environment on a day-to-day basis. I failed miserably and those old obstacles came back "Oh I'd be so much happier if I could afford a house keeper and could come home to a clean house!"
(For the record I still don't doubt this to be true, but I also don't see having a housekeeper in the budget any time soon).
That's when I decided to get rid of all the clutter. Even things that I normally don't consider clutter, like functional equipment, had to go. I was taking minimalist to an entirely new level.
I cleared everything from my kitchen table except for a coconut Scott had picked from a tree earlier in the week. I took everything off of my counters and counter tops. The dish soap behind the sink? Now under the sink. The oatmeal I left conveniently by the stove, away in the pantry. My blender that became a counter top fixture? In a cabinet, and so on.
(If you were familiar with my NYC kitchen, you can see SXM has one benefit: more kitchen space!)
I've never felt happier or more zen in my life. It's not the end-all-solution but it was a HUGE first step to my new way of living. It's been two weeks and I LOVE it. I feel no stress when I walk into, out of, or past the kitchen. Just seeing the clean, open space, adds a splash of water to my happiness glass.
I thought that I would waste a lot of time having to dig out and put away all the things that are now stored but I've been pleasantly surprised to realize it hasn't added much time at all and the few extra minutes it adds is nothing compared to the benefit I'm getting in return. What's five extra minutes in the kitchen if it means having a zen kitchen?
I must encourage you to try it -- I promise your quality of life will improve instantly. It feels so good to have that clean, open space -- I can't describe it. Having things at your fingertips is nice, but it's not worth all the static. I think this is why hotel rooms are so calming, they're free of static.
In case you're wondering: yes my cabinets and pantry are a little clustered and crazy now, and it's my next minimalist project to get them in order, but at least that's "out of sight out of mind." I plan to tackle that project this weekend, so I'll blog about it next week in my new column, Minimalist Monday!
Do you have a minimalist kitchen or living space?! What's one thing you could do to zen your space?