This week we’re learning how to pare down our belongings and embrace the minimalist lifestyle with help from author and advocate Christine Platt (aka The Afrominimalist). Christine’s own personal journey from overconsumption to one of minimalism is an inspiration, and she helps us understand how everything from our childhoods to the psychology of ownership causes us to hang on to far more than we need. Listen to hear Christine’s tips on how to start decluttering without overwhelming yourself, how to parent as a minimalist, and why the first step to becoming a minimalist is not what you might think.
Christine’s new book, The Afrominimalist’s Guide to Living With Less comes out on June 15.
Listen to The Upgrade above or find us in all the usual places podcasts are served, including Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, iHeartRadio, and NPR One.
Highlights from this week’s episode
From the Christine Platt interview:
On the important first step towards decluttering:
[B]efore you start this process of letting go, first understand why you have more than you need. Why are you even at this place of overconsumption? Because everyone just wants to jump right in there, like, “I’m ready to go into my closet. I’m ready to find what sparks joy and I’m getting rid of everything that doesn’t.” Right? But it’s like, until you understand why you have all those things that don’t spark joy, you run the risk of finding yourself in that same space over and over again
On navigating a minimalist lifestyle as a parent:
[M]inimalism is such a process of self-discovery…[and] one of the hardest things for me to accept was that I was enabling and responsible for all of the excess and overconsumption that my child had because she had no job. Right…So why are we acting like their overconsumption is their fault? We are enabling and allowing these things into their lives, whether we are doing it out of guilt, whether we are fulfilling our own childhood wants and expectations that weren’t fulfilled. You know, there are so many reasons why we feel compelled to spoil, if you want to use that word, or just give this life of abundance to our children that they’re really not asking for. At the end of the day, most children are completely overwhelmed with all that they have been given..You have to learn to say no, whether it’s to yourself, whether it’s to grandma and grandpa, whether it’s to, you know, friends and family. She doesn’t need another thing. And usually what I do is offer a solution. She doesn’t need another thing, but, you know, her birthday is in July and that’s usually a big back-to-school time. So why don’t you donate a backpack full of supplies in her honor? Offering people a solution or another alternative usually proves to be really, really helpful.
On one of her slow and steady approaches to decluttering:
One of the challenges that I started on Instagram was actually encouraging people to let go of one thing every day for one year. And…at the end of the year, you will have let go at a minimum, 365 things. And so there’s so many people who signed up for that challenge because they were like, OK, this just takes so much pressure off of me. And they go in their closet and they’re like, I’m going to let go of one thing. And then maybe some days they let go of 30 [things], some days they let go of 60 [things], but some days are overwhelming and they let go of one. But it’s this idea that slowly and surely you will get to this place of reaching your goal, living with less, you know, feeling this feeling of liberation without the pressure that comes with trying to make this like this weekend warrior mission. A weekend to declutter everything that you have accumulated over the last several decades? When you say it aloud, it sounds absolutely impossible. And for most people, it just is. And I’m just like, why are you putting this amount of pressure on yourself, especially when this is a never-ending journey?
To hear more of Christine’s advice, we recommend listening to the full episode.
Have any feedback or ideas for future episodes? Want to be featured on the show? Leave us a voicemail at 347-687-8109 or send a voice memo to email@example.com.