On a number of occasions my husband has asked me what I want out of life. We sometimes have these kinds of conversations when the kids have gone to bed or we’re out on a date night.
My answer is always the same: I want peace.
But what does that actually mean? Peace can mean so many things to different people. No arguments, a calm relationship, a calm environment, world peace, inner peace, good health.
For me, peace means freedom from torment and trauma, good mental health, a calm environment, and a loving circle of friends and family.
Years ago, if you’d asked me the same question I would have given you a list of the latest phone, consoles, and a mansion with an arcade, cinema and swimming pool. I wanted to be rich and never have to worry again. Surely that would have given me the peace I was seeking.
But after discovering minimalism and purging 85-90% of my stuff, I realised that my way of thinking was faulty and had deep roots to my past.
I never believed I was capable. In fact, I believed a whole lot of toxic and unhelpful things. That rich people were evil and had only got that way through hurting others or by inheriting from people who had passed. That having a lot of stuff and a ‘good job’ was going to make me happy and successful (even though I struggled with chronic illness and undiagnosed autism at the time). That my dreams of being a writer were unrealistic and only by ‘keeping my nose to the grindstone’ was I ever going to make it.
Of course, I spent most of my childhood writing and clicking away on the typewriter my parents had bought me, or writing stories in my many notebooks. I always had my head in a book (just like now) and was encouraged by my mum to take out the maximum number of books I was allowed at a time from the local library (I was never satisfied as I got through the books fast).
But you see, when you become an adult things change. Life and loss happens. Friendships change and fade. Trauma comes to the surface. Earning money to make a living becomes a priority.
Owning the latest and greatest is sold to us by society and the people closest to us who believe that is the way to happiness. There’s a never ending choice of things to numb the pain from physical stuff to substances.
I can tell you with all of my heart that none of that will ever satisfy you or bring happiness, no matter how much you believe it will at the time.
Growing up I was spoilt with the latest consoles, crazes and toys, yet I had horrendous mental health and deep-seated trauma which has persisted into adulthood and which I never confronted until I discovered minimalism. My state of mind was recorded in decades of journals which I eventually shredded and decluttered as part of my healing journey.
In my case, receiving counselling, practicing minimalism, reading tonnes of self-help literature, and training to become a counsellor forced me to confront and start to change my limiting and damaging beliefs.
Only after purging such a huge amount of clutter from my life did I realise that I was living a lie and that everything I had been lead to believe was only going to cause stress, burnout and chronic illness.
I started writing seriously again and made this blog. I even created a Youtube channel which is in the works.
I’m now 35, own all the latest gaming consoles, eat out more often than I should, and physically have more than I actually need to live a comfortable, happy life. But guess what? I still suffer with bouts of extremely poor mental health and a niggling voice to completely change my life to truly help others.
A ps5 and the latest videogames haven’t quietened that voice. Neither has a beautiful house or flattering clothes.
The only things which bring me happiness and a sense of satisfaction are my loving family, my amazing friends, my writing, and helping others.
The rest is a case of receiving therapy and remaining true to myself, no matter how much my values or sense of self changes.