What Makes You Happy? Do That.

Let’s be honest, for a “minimalist” family our home is still often a little bit messy (keeping your kitchen perfect as you homeschool kids who need snacks every hour is utterly impossible. Believe me, I’ve tried). Our kids still have more clothes than I’d like, my closet still isn’t paired down as much as I’d like, and my husband’s office, well, is often less tidy as he’d like it to be. OK OK. Mainly I’d like it to be.

But that’s OK. Why? Because minimizing and simplifying is a journey. And everyone’s journey means you’re in a rhythm of constantly improving your lifestyle priorities and preferences.

Most importantly, it’s our journey to a simpler life – one that is showing us it’s OK to continue, if not expand, doing the things we love. Why would we be minimizing and simplifying our lives in the first place if the outcome wasn’t experiencing more happiness?

But sometimes it doesn’t look or feel that way. Sometimes the passion we have for a certain hobby confuses us in this minimal journey.

Say, for example, you like camping so your garage includes camping gear – tents, sleeping bags, a stove, lanterns, backpacks, safety gear…etc. Maybe you also subscribe to camping magazines, blogs and newsletters. You may have a tub stored somewhere full of camping-only clothing, blankets and gear. You might even have rewards to places like REI and other similar outdoor stores and you frequent their sales to get the best deals. Maybe you strive to own an airstream someday (okay, my desires may be peeking through here).

Regardless, you start looking around and wondering – wasn’t I supposed to be minimizing my belongings, not accruing more?

I say, if it’s your passion, let the burden of minimizing go. Just be realistic and honest with yourself. Do you really, as an avid runner, need to own five pairs of running shoes, five apps to log your miles and a drawer full of socks? Maybe you do. I don’t know. But probably not.

If there’s a sale at a store that supports your hobby, have a plan to only purchase product(s) on your list. It’s when we shop blindly, without a goal, we get into trouble and buy things we don’t need.

The important thing is through minimizing and simplifying other areas of your life you’re making the time, space and finances more available for the things you love.

Here’s a glimpse at our family:

Tech products: My husband enjoys researching and investing in new technology (I’m pretty sure he’s a top investor in random tech products on Kickstarter). Most months I’ll open the door to find an unnamed, brown package from some startup. Who can blame him? In 2008 we started EIGHTDAY, our branding firm. And a few years ago we helped co-found a company called Circle with Disney. So it’s in our blood to be intrigued by new innovations and tech products. Only, he likes to dabble in them way more than I do. He’ll tell you it helps him stay up-to-date. I say, can we just keep it at research? Either way, it’s a passion we shouldn’t squelch.

Comic Books: My son loves comic books. We credit books like the Smurfs and Calvin and Hobbes and reading aloud multiple times a day to his ability to read so early. So our family room is often littered with comics. I mean, I can think of many worse ways for my 6-year-old son to be spending his time.

Arts + Crafts: My daughter is a budding little artist. So we have an entire movable cart with pens and pencils, paper and stamps, glue, paint, stickers. Of course, none of these items actually stay on the cart throughout the day and are instead strewn everywhere as she creates her masterpieces, making my head want to explode. But I’ll live. This sweet season won’t last forever.

More Books: Finally, I also adore books (I’ve convinced my kids they’re the best thing known to many besides shelter, sleep and food). Ok, so call me addicted. As much as I try to maintain a small library for myself and pass on books I love, we have a much larger assortment of titles for our kids. I also keep roughly five books in rotation that I personally read with two to three on my nightstand at any given time. The kids and I head to the library weekly and I have an entire rolling cart I lug along with us as we check out around 50-70 books at a time.

In a nutshell, seeing books everywhere – as much as we’re doing our best to minimize – brings me pure joy.

Simplifying our lives, putting less on our calendars and saying “no” to various activities has helped us all carve out time to spend time on the hobbies we love, despite them not looking like they’re helping us achieve a minimal lifestyle.

But these hobbies are the reason we’re taking this journey in the first place.

And as a side note, you may very well have fifteen hobbies you’re passionate about. Just try to think back to the last time you thought about how much you missed it, let alone worked at it? If it’s been more than a few years, I’d say re-evaluate and stick to maybe one to three serious things you’re passionate about and go from there. This way you won’t be frustrated when you hoard more and more items for pass times you’ll honestly never get around to until your say, retired.

Reading. Hiking. Knitting. Woodworking. Creating. Painting. Yoga. Camping. Traveling. Surfing. Scrapbooking. Writing. Gardening. Dancing. Gaming. Photography. Cycling. Sewing. Birdwatching. Origami. Larping. Hunting. Cosplay. Sailing. Juggling. Home brewing…

Whatever makes you happy. Do it. Do it more often.
It’s why you’re pursuing simplicity and minimalism in all other areas of your life.

It’s okay to let your passion get in the way.

So no, our house doesn’t look like it should ever appear in a minimalist magazine. It doesn’t have to. What’s important is we’re doing the things that bring us the most joy more often because we’re simplifying our lives in other areas; cleaning, buying, organizing, maintaining less.

What’s one thing that makes you happy that, instead of getting in the way of your journey to a simpler, more minimal life, is something you’d actually like to experience more of despite it not feeling or appearing minimalistic?

With Love.

P.S. As I finish writing this post I look up at my family. As my daughter naps, we’re all sitting around on a Saturday afternoon doing what we love. Me writing. My son looking through a comic book. My husband researching new tech. My heart sighs at the sight of it all.

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