Voluntary Simplification, How to live with less? Keep it simple

voluntary simplification

Voluntary Simplification


IT seems one of the prevailing buzzwords of the new century is “ simplification” voluntary simplification. Naturally, there’s a tendency for minimalism to flourish in countries such as ours that have embraced go-go consumer culture. It’s difficult to rebel against the get-more-stuff mantra if that isn’t your society’s way of life.

But living a minimalist lifestyle can be accomplished anywhere and in many ways. When it comes to small interiors, we’ve rounded up a few great ideas to have less stuff to maintain and clean.


If you’ve ever fantasized about selling everything you own but don’t need and paring down your possessions to the barest essentials, you’ve probably heard the term minimalism. It’s not just about decluttering; it’s about getting rid of all the nonessentials through a purging process.

Minimalism isn’t about empty white rooms that lack a semblance of furniture or life. Minimalism is about removing all the things that distract us from what’s important and fundamental in existence.

For die-hard minimalists, it means owning only about a few hundred items. For others, it means getting rid of the excess until you are left with the bare necessities which, by practical definition, may evolve through time.

Writing down the reasons for achieving a minimalist lifestyle entails being mindful of the things we possess, the money we spend, and how we make use of time. Taking these reasons on a sheet of paper to a prominent place in the home will help remind us that we value experiences more than possessions.

It’s important to jot down the reasons now and find a place where we can easily read what we’ve written. In this regard, don’t get rid of the refrigerator just yet. You need food and drink to survive; it’s also the best place to prominently display your new ethos, which you may edit from time to time.


Getting back to basics requires a mindset. Psychologically, you may have to do some preparation to get into the right attitude—
because let’s face it, a lot of us love to have stuff, relationships, and superfluities that we don’t really need.

But things have complications. That big house and everything in it takes the time to clean and organize, and it takes a house help to maintain them all.

Getting rid of your things requires commitment. You need to make a decision about every item you own and your relationship to that piece, and this reassessment can be mentally frustrating.

For example, it takes fortitude to discipline yourself to only display one prominent piece of décor on a display table, instead of the many pieces that you may have. But the crux of minimalism requires a sense of sobriety that you will only show one piece or none at all, and be happy about it.

The rest should go into hiding. I know it sounds crazy that a decorative vignette should be fuelled by all these pent-up assumptions, but that’s what minimalism is.

Knowing that you have one piece of décor to display should make you happy. It may take a lot of mental reconfiguring to make a person content with just one piece. But the realization that you’ve “been there and done that” should set you apart from the go-go mentality of showing off everything.

This is a reason why minimalism is often a reaction to a previous phase of maximalism and a rejection of an overly indulgent lifestyle. But if putting a single piece on display can rack up so many bad emotions, then forget about it; minimalism may not be your cup of tea in the first place..


If you’ve resolved your mindset to go minimalist, however, you can start small, then go big. Begin the process of simplification today by collecting the things you haven’t used in a long time or ever, and hide them in the broom closet or a separate room.

From this enclosure, fritter away items that may be donated to someone who needs them, or turns them into cash by selling via eBay or at a garage sale. If one is scared about wanting those items again, hold onto them for just a little while, until you’ve realized that, since the time of “holding off,” you never really got to use the items.

“Finalize” their existence by finally getting rid of them through a donation or sale.

Set aside 10 minutes every day to declutter, and make it a habit. Set a timer. You can make great progress after a week if you daily race the clock. After all, you would have accumulated 70 minutes of decluttering within the time period. Make every second count.

Remember to ditch the obvious things first. These are items you clearly do not need and have not used—the mugs you never drank from, the ugly gifts you’ve received through the years, knick-knacks that gather dust in a corner—then proceed to other things you can live without.


REASSESS after a few weeks and see how you feel. Decluttering isn’t something you just do once. It’s an ongoing process. You may find it difficult to let go of certain items in the first or second round of decluttering, but, on the third round, it could end up in the storeroom. Always ask yourself, “Does this thing add value to my life?”

This reassessment will help you become smart about future purchases. You’ll realize that you need to shop only when you require something essential, not for fun or entertainment. Before you buy something new, make an inventory of what you already have. By counting just how many vases or picture frames you own will discourage you from purchasing more. Ditto for bigger items like furniture.

When you don’t spend cash on nonessentials, you have more money to put toward the important things in life—perhaps house payment, debt, retirement, savings and one-of-a-kind experiences. Once you’ve started selling your stuff and not buying new curious, you can repurpose the money you’re saving into something that can further change your life.

In Photo: Minimalism can mean purging the excess until you are left with only the essentials which, by practical definition, may evolve over time. Bento Table, Bento Chairs and Kuu Lamps by One Nordic. (Right photo) Instead of a filling your shelves full of books and knick-knacks, consider only keeping the things that you can’t live without. Wall display system by One Nordic.

Written by Samito Jalbuena / the.beast@zoho.com
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