Essentialism with Others

+ Something a little crazy happened a few months ago. I was asked to give an interview for an online conference on simplicity. Awkward, shy me in a video interview?!? Yikes. Over Thanksgiving weekend, I got to video chat about Essentialism and our lifestyle with Wuyen Hsu, the organizer. He was enthusiastic and lovely and it went pretty well. I may say "um" about twenty times... I may imply that our child used to eat non-human food ;) Even though there are things I would change, it was a really good experience. I’m so grateful to him for including me and taking me out of my comfort zone.

The Simple Living Summit is coming up next week! It’s free to participate. There will be a bunch of discussions and videos available about simple living. I’m really excited to see Greg McKeown’s talk. He actually wrote a book on Essentialism! So go sign up here if you’re interested in the conference or any of the talks. (Be warned you may get a bunch of emails from the summit but you can unsubscribe if it's too much.) My session is on Thursday, February 16, 2017. <3

One of the topics I frequently get asked about and one that Wuyen and I chat about is practicing Essentialism with Others. There are two issues to discuss here. The first is getting people on board with the lifestyle and concept of "less is more". The second is how to best work through an organizing project with family or friends (which I’ll dive into next week).

So let’s say you were feeling overwhelmed with stuff and life in general and you started reading about decluttering or essentialism or minimalism. Maybe you saw the Minimalism documentary on Netflix! Anyway, you got excited about making a life change and you’re now feeling great as you’ve been letting go of the excess. But you live with people or you’re moving in with someone or you have a loved one who could also really benefit. What should you do?

The easiest way to get rid of stuff is to start with someone else’s. Hah! This is what we all want. Our stuff is important and should stay so our partner’s stuff is really the problem. In fact, strangers even ask me how to make their wife/husband/child get rid of X!! The answer is: you can’t. It’s not up to us to change somebody else’s lifestyle. They have to want to and find their own WHY. Respect lifestyle differences, as you would like yours to be respected, and be compassionate about other people’s journeys.

2. You can, however, lead by example! Do the work yourself and let others notice the shift. Despite the fact that I have a blog for this very purpose, even I’m not great at promoting living with less. But somehow most people notice our lifestyle. Our friends share their decluttering victories with us or their value shifts around gifting or shopping. Essentialism is contagious!

3. Communicate the benefits. Share the joys of having more time to play, a healthier lifestyle, a cleaner home, and bigger savings. For example, it's great to not stress about people coming over because it's so easy to keep the home tidy. And one of the main reasons why I’m now able to work part-time (and have more time with Peanut), is that Essentialism has saved us that much money. We spend our money in line with our priorities so we can make a little less while living a little more.

4. Ask for support. A good way to get people on board with any change is to ask them to help you. If you have a weight loss goal or an exercise goal, you might ask a loved one to make a few adjustments to help keep you on track. “Please don’t keep ice cream around” or “please make sure I go for a run first”. The same can be true for essentializing. Maybe request that a designated area or room stay uncluttered. Agree on a clutter-free bedroom or that toys stay in the kids' room. Or maybe you change shopping dates into hiking dates or decluttering dates. Sexy ;)

5. Does it really matter? Some people might not be on board with these changes. Decide if the conflict is worth it. Are you trying to influence somebody you live with or somebody you see a few times a year? If it’s a less intimate or less frequent interaction, maybe the payoff isn't worth the headache. My mother-in-law doesn’t need to be a practicing essentialist. We try to communicate our lifestyle and values with her but we’re probably never going to agree on everything. And that's fine. 

Now, if you share a space or a life with someone, focus on what you do have in common instead of what you don’t. Focus on your shared values and not on the specific clutter.  Having differences is okay but try to find and start from common ground. I'll elaborate on this more in next week's post on how to best work through an organizing project with others!

(Sorting diapers with an "other" ;)

(Sorting diapers with an "other" ;)

++ Ooh, also, I’ve started flirting with social media for the blog a bit. theESSENTIALISTS now has a Pinterest page (what?) and an Instagram account (totes!). Take a look, follow along, share, become friends. I’d love to connect with you more, especially in a visual way! <3 <3 <3