This Is How Minimalism Made Me A Thousand Times Happier

Simple minimalist room
Rob Bye

Over the past year I have been focusing on a living a minimalistic life. It has been refreshing to only own what I need, find joy in living in the day, and embracing the simple joys – nature, friendship, writing, and animals.

I wish I would have felt this way when I began my journey of recovery six years ago. In 2011, I stopped dating, drinking, and focusing on other people for my happiness.  Something happened after two years, though; my life had been so calm that I jumped right back into my old ways, thinking I was “fixed.” As I look back, I ponder why I added unnecessary things to my life, boxed up my things, and headed to New York City without much thought. NYC had always been a dream of mine, and at that moment in time I felt I could handle it. I packed what seemed to be an endless amount of jewelry, handbags, dresses, and shoes; what I hadn’t realized was that I picked up a whole new addiction: stuff.

Let’s rewind. With a clear mind, stable job, and disposable income, I started a fashion blog in 2012. What started as snapping photos of my outfit with a self-timer on my way to work became an everyday routine, and I started buying new things for the sake of buying them.

Shopping became my favorite pastime.  Sure, I always loved clothes and living a fashionable life, but I used material things to fill a deep void in my life.  

Writing, photography, and networking accompanied this hobby, later becoming a full time career within blogging and freelance fashion marketing work. I began following others who were doing the same, constantly comparing myself to their success, what they wore, what brands they worked with, and where they lived.

My best was never good enough; I always felt the need for more.

High heels in every color. A new nail polish for each outfit. More brand collaborations, more followers, more recognition. Before I moved to NYC I was sure that my fashion career would take off. This would be my chance to make it!  I’ll do something big! Instead, I fell deeper into depression, self-criticism, codependency, and alcoholism. All of it was an “ism.” I was barely functional at times, yet wondering why I continued to struggle.

I don’t know what my turning point was; yet in 2015 I abandoned my blog, started purging the excess of stuff, and began writing about life lessons. My path back to a life of recovery has been slow yet steady, with several slips but an immense amount of gratitude. Today, I am aware that I won’t be able to stay mentally healthy with any of my “isms;” I can easily find myself addicted to love, money, people, food, even exercising.

Everything in moderation.

The only solution to that pesky void was to start living a life of mindfulness.  I used to constantly worry about “what’s next” but never appreciated what was right in front of me.

My happiness depends on my spiritual condition, not what is on the outside. As I live each day in the moment, focusing on what I have and counting the things I am grateful for, my heart is full and my need for stuff has disappeared. I’ll always love style, but I’ve learned that my happiness doesn’t depend on what I look like. I’m just as happy in my SF Giants hat and flip flops as I am in a dress and heels (and as you may know, I wear a little black dress almost every day. It’s like Steve Jobs – it’s easy). There is far too much to focus on in life than to try and “keep up” with other people; I am whole just as I am.

Living beautifully is all about enjoying the moment and being comfortable being you, no matter where you are or what you have. It’s about enjoying the sunshine, being one with nature, developing healthy connections, and feeling good in your own skin.

Live beautifully, friends: mindfully, and in style. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Always lands on her feet.

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