Minimalism

Note to self: it’s okay to love beautiful things

12.03.17

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I know clutter is bad for me. I know this to be true. I’ve lived with clutter and I’ve lived without it. I know the difference. I know how much better I feel in a spacious home that’s free from meaningless junk I kept just because I thought I should. I have more time, money and freedom thanks to living with less. That doesn’t stop me loving beautiful things, nor should it have to.

I’ve sparred with this conflict for a while, on the one hand striving for simplicity and ridding my life of anything that doesn’t add value to it but on the other my magpie like tendencies haven’t ever subsided. Those gorgeous ceramic mugs I spot while I’m scrolling Instagram still catch my eye. I don’t ever expect my love of beautiful things to go away. It’s always been there.

Whether I like it or not I’m an incredibly visual person and I love beautiful things! I cannot give this up nor do I want to, nor should I have to. And neither should you. If you’re anything like me visual values sit high on your list. That’s okay, it doesn’t make us shallow – it makes us visual people. That’s a thing, it’s science, there’s nothing wrong with us. We just love beautiful stuff.

So how do we tame our inner magpie? Well, we need to practice only welcoming beautiful stuff that means something, has a use and adds some value to our lives. It has to really make our heart sing. We have to get so much value from it that we’re willing to clean it, maintain it, repair it and truly treasure it. Otherwise we’re without boundaries and before we know it our home is cluttered up again no sooner than we’ve finished our latest purge. We can love all the beautiful things we like, but that doesn’t mean we have to own it all.

There’s only so much space

The thing is – there’s only so much space and it gets to the point where enough is enough. It takes some practice to know what that point is. Reminding ourselves that owning all the beautiful things won’t make us happy really takes the pressure off. More beautiful things will not make us happier long term, trust me I’ve tried it and it doesn’t work. But things aren’t always that simple – owning nothing at all doesn’t make us happier either. Life is a beautiful mess and it’s ever changing; we have to change and grow with it.

Those beautiful things; scented candles, a ceramic teapot or even just a beautiful branch you found on a walk one day, are beautiful indeed and oh how I love them too. But they are not who we are and separating these two things is the key. These things are not a measure of our self worth and we are not our stuff. This is what keeps me sane.

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We need to make sure we own things for a reason – because we really want to, because they make us genuinely happy and because they add value to our lives. If it truly does that, own all the beautiful stuff you want.

Boundaries are what keeps us from insanity, from anxiety and general overwhelm. Beautiful things have a place inside those boundaries but there has to be a cut off point. Less is more but the least doesn’t equal the most beautiful either. We get to determine that for ourselves and not I nor anyone else can tell you what your number is.

It’s not what we do, it’s why

I read recently that it’s not the what we do in life, it’s the why that makes the difference and it sang so true to me. We can lust after and buy a beautiful thing simply because it’s beautiful and having it around us makes us feel happy or we can go on a manic shopping spree buying everything we see because we’re desperate to make ourselves feel better. There is a huge difference. The difference is intention and awareness.

If you’re striving for simplicity like me, know that beautiful things can and should have a place in our lives. It’s okay to want the beautiful ceramic teapot because it’s beautiful and makes your morning cup of tea even more pleasurable. If you want it with intention, it’s okay. Buy the teapot and enjoy it. Let it add value to your life – don’t then go out and buy one in every colour.

It’s okay to love beautiful things but we need to tune into what makes us really feel happy and then buy with intention., because we really want to – for us – not because we think we should or because we place our happiness in said teapot’s spout.

Do you share my love of beautiful things? Do you need this reminder too? I’m going to have to keep coming back to this one myself. 

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You can be minimalist and love beautiful things | minimalism | slow living | simple living | decluttering | decluttering tips | minimalist living tips | realistic minimalism

16 comments on “Note to self: it’s okay to love beautiful things”

  1. Well said Jessica, it truly is a tough one especially when we are inundated with reminders ,emails, adverts for consumerism, I also love beautiful things but have to remind myself …Do I need it in my life, will it bring value to my life? I do find it really Hard especially this time of year, but when I read posts like yours it’s a great reminder as to why I chose this minimal journey, and am embracing it

  2. I find it a struggle, as I too have “magpie” tendencies. If something is beautiful and shiny and sparkles, I want it! I think it is still a work in progress for me. I am constantly taking a step back to ask myself if I need the particular item I am mesmerised by.

    1. Love your description of a step back. I know that mesmerised feeling. I’ve got into the habit of making myself wait at least a week or so before I buy it if I’m not 100% at the time. That’s worked really well.

  3. I feel an intense freedom that you’ve brought these feeling to the surface…it’s as if you e read my mind and been brave enough to speak the words….EXACTLY what I’ve felt for yrs yet wasn’t brave enough to speak my mind! Thank you So much for setting me free!

  4. I struggle with this especially with all the beautiful things on Instagram and Pinterest! I love so many beautiful things, usually expensive things, but thankfully I hate spending money more lol! However, if my teapot breaks then I don’t feel guilty paying a bit more for that beautiful teapot that I saw…I can justify it this way because I don’t buy lots of stuff 😊

  5. This article rang very true for me. More so, because people just don’t get how I can be a minimalist and have expensive taste. I like the finer things in life but I also save up and wait to buy what I really want and cherish that purchase. I’m learning to ignore what people say and just be true to me. So, yeah, I’m a minimalist with fabulous taste! 🙂

  6. This is such an important reminder and one that I had to tell myself when the fear of being left with nothing creeps in during my declutter Days.
    Intention. Intention. Intention is key!

  7. Thanks Jessica, I definitely needed this reminder! I travel a lot for work – I’m home around a week each month – and seeing beautiful things on my trips (all the markets!) and knowing when to take them home and when to just appreciate them before moving on is a struggle for me. The travel doesn’t help as it tempts me to be desperate (“You’ll never see this again as when will you be back here?” In a few months, actually, but my mind tricks me lol). I’ll spend some time really setting boundaries before my next trip with your post in mind.

    1. I used to collect so many trinkets from travels. It is so tempting and you feel like you want something to remember the place by. It’funny how the memory doesn’t disappear when you don’t buy or keep the thing.

  8. Such a great post Jess. Totally agree with everything you say. I find this particular issue most difficult when it comes to my kids. There are lots of beautiful kids clothes, toys and essentials out there but even more absolute tat! Everything I buy for them I try to think about it’s beauty, sustainability and purpose but it can be so hard getting other people to accept this when it comes to kids. Finding the balance between other people’s beliefs that more is better, and the desire to help my children truly value the things they have is definitely my biggest challenge. Definitely makes me grateful that I can at least control my own things! 🙈 Xx

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