Ever wondered what all the fuss over becoming a minimalist was about? Find out how your life can be improved as a minimalist and how to do it.
Why Become a Minimalist
Time – When you simplify your home and your possessions you invariably end up applying these new habits to simplify how you use your time. You will be focusing on what matters most to you, thus putting your time where your values are. Less time cleaning and organizing and more time on your passions. Your time will be spent on experiences either alone or with others, helping you grow stronger relationships with those you care about. And lets face it we all have a list of experiences we hope to have, learning a second language, learning to dance, hiking through a new terrain, picnics with loved ones, traveling to a new town, interstate, to Paris!
I have found the guidance from this handy book Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life, wonderful. This book has been a guide toward my minimalist life and more importantly it has forced me to ask deeper questions about every aspect of my life. Questions such as: will this make me happy? Am I doing this because someone else expects me to? What do I truly value and does this use of my time or purchase represent that?
Save Money – As a minimalist you will spend money on quality not quantity and with minimalist purchasing guidelines you wont be buying items just for the sake of buying them or because its the latest and therefore the best. One warm, weather proof and gorgeous jacket instead of three that don’t quite fulfill their purpose. Advertisements will no longer guide your purchases. No impulsive shopping here. The money you save on possessions can be put to memorable experiences such as building a tree house for your kids or a family vacation that is now possible.
Less Stress – If the space around you is simplified down to what you need and what is beautiful to you then your mind has less to think about, less to be overwhelmed by. Letting go of items also helps you let go of the past and that is a freeing feeling. Space and simplicity instead of clutter gives the mind space to create and grow.
Simplified Decisions – With minimalism guiding what you buy, what you own and how you spend your time you can make intentional decisions. This means more awareness of how your decisions benefit or harm you. You can decide if your decisions align with your core values and the environment. Minimalism has simplified my decision process; either the item, use of time or experience adds value to my life and is aligned with who I am or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t then its a no. Simple.
Health – When you are a practicing minimalist you are also likely to allow this to impact how you eat. If you’re buying food that adds value to your life, it is nourishing food. With less clutter you have the mental space to really pay attention and this incorporation of mindfulness helps you listen to what foods work best with your body. When you’re busy multitasking in a cluttered space it makes sense to feed yourself with ‘fast food’ and to overeat mindlessly. However when you have a clear space and you use your time to take a proper meal break, you will practice mindful eating and you can choose the kinds of food that makes you feel energized. The health of the planet will also be improved by your minimalist lifestyle. Reducing consumer waste means less garbage and all the ways we try to dispose of it.
End Comparison – Comparison is the thief of joy. When you embrace a minimalist lifestyle you actively reduce how much you compare yourself to others. You no longer care if you have every piece of that Spring collection in your wardrobe instead you have your one favourite coat and blouse and you don’t feel lesser because you own less. Instead you feel more authentically you, because your things don’t own you or your self perception. As a minimalist you do not need to show off your possessions to others. Big win!
Happiness – You will have more money and less debt, more space and less clutter, more fulfilling experiences and less things. You will own only the possessions you love or that add value. You will have more time with your loved ones and less comparing. More calm and less stress. With all these positive shifts you will undoubtedly be creating a life that encourages greater happiness. Things don’t make you happy that which remains when those unnecessary things are removed will. You’re not weighed down, you’re lighter, freer and happier.
How to Become a Minimalist
Values – To embrace a minimalist lifestyle you must first determine what your values are. Your values will become your personal standards, this means that if an activity, a purchase or a possession doesn’t align with your values then you know it is not meeting your standards and it is time to make a change or let it go. One thing you might value is family, which means if a possession (such as your mobile phone), is distracting you from your family then you won’t be using it during your family time. If buying gifts for your children doesn’t allow you to grow closer to them you might decide to simplify birthdays down to one gift and one experience designed to bring you closer together.
Home – The physical space in which you live is the best place to begin. Go through your home one room at a time and donate or throw out the items that aren’t being used and those items which are not aligned with your values. There is nothing more freeing than letting go of things you don’t need. If you’re uncertain if a possession should go ask yourself: have I used this in the last two years? If you the answer is no this item is very likely something that you no longer need.
Clothing – Check out How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe from Be More With Less. I find this approach can be a great goal to work towards. Minimizing what you own can be scary and sometimes hard to let go of the ‘I might wear this one day’ even though you haven’t worn it in 2.5 years. However you make the rules, which means instead of deciding to throw everything out tomorrow, scale down and work toward the goal of a capsule wardrobe. The first step might be to donate anything you haven’t used in the last 2 years and doubles of items such as that second or third pair of black jeans.
Purchases – Chances are high that you probably don’t ‘need’ anything you don’t already own, most of us living in western society have more than enough of all the basics such as linen on the bed, cutlery and white-goods. So before making a purchase ask yourself: do I really need this?
The second question to ask before making a purchase is: will this add value to my life? It is worth figuring out your personal style and what aesthetic aligns with your values, this will ensure that any new purchases are in alignment with what truly appeals to you and not just what corporations say should appeal to you.
Time – Ask yourself where you spend your time now? Three hours surfing the web could be better halved with a designated period for chilling online and the other half of that time with your loved ones or making a phone call to someone you care for. It’s wise to schedule down time for yourself but if you know you get carried away use a timer or set an alarm on your phone. If you work from home, it can be very easy to lose hours through distractions and you end up with a lot of half completed projects. Break your work day into time chunks; set timers or alarms for each task and switch off your devices so that when you’re writing for 2-3 hours nothing can disturb you. When it is time to respond to emails you are not trying to post on social media. One task for one time chunk – single tasking, means completing more tasks with higher focus.
Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like. – Will Rogers.
Minimalism Resources That I Love