The practice of denying yourself clutter in order to live life fully takes work. I began my journey toward a simpler, more meaningful life after college. I noticed my life felt chaotic and my mind was always a mess. My wardrobe and home unfortunately reflected the state of my mind, as did my art–my paintings were frenzied, full of color and emotion. After a thoughtful examination of my surroundings and a necessary cull of both my household and my wardrobe, my life became a blank tableau. I finally felt like I could breathe.

Though it has been a slow, deliberate process that will always be ongoing, clearing out the things I didn’t need detoxed me from the constant state of fuss I had lived in for so long. It gave me the fresh space I needed to understand what minimalism really means:  clearing out the things that are unnecessary distractions in order to practice living fully in the areas that do—relationships, community, passion, inspiration, character, and mental and physical health.

Don’t get me wrong, there are few words more loaded in pop culture right now than “minimalism.” But looking beyond recent trends, beyond the names that are stamped on the underside of our furniture, minimalism is synonymous with simplicity. Explained by the architect Makoto Takei, “Simplicity is the result of a concentration of ideas, and not about leaving out ideas.” Minimalism is organizing a thoughtful life, in the same way Sol Lewitt organizes shapes on a wall or Agnes Martin arranges pencil lines on grid.

So this is my little manifesto to the minimalism powerful enough to defy trends.  I have seen in my own life how clutter breeds confusion; when energy is focused on accumulating more, we are bound to compromise depth in some way.  Living with less has completely breathed fresh air and new meaning into every part of my life. A real minimalistic lifestyle is hard to come by, but it nurtures the richest things in life. And like every discipline, the reward is worthwhile.

Image source