When you first hear the word, you’re bound to have some strong connotations to it. And whether you envision a peaceful monk, a tight-pursed misanthrope, or a poverty-stricken urchin, that connotation is rarely positive. In short, most people associate minimalism with sacrifice and going without. But with more and more people voluntarily signing up for the minimalist lifestyle – whether that be simply decluttering or transitioning to a tiny house – it’s becoming clear that less really is more. What gives?
The Downside of Having It All
The world today has become more consumerist than ever, driving people into a constant hamster wheel of wanting to buy more and more. Whether they’re constantly trying to stay with the trends or keep up with the ever-improving technology, many people are finding the very real cost of having it all – financially, emotionally, and psychologically.
As they say, the man who has more than he needs robs himself. With a minimalist lifestyle, you have less of what you don’t need, making room for more of the things you do need.
Less to clean, more time to relax.
Less lost money on knick-knacks and impulse buys, more money to travel and eliminate debt.
Less stress, more fulfillment and serenity.
When you allow materialism to be a part of your life, you sacrifice your freedom, your focus, and your finances. But switching to a more minimalist lifestyle doesn’t have to mean living in an off-the-grid hut miles from civilization. Nor does it mean having to give up all the little things that brighten your day.
What is Minimalism?
Minimalism varies from person to person, but the gist is the same: minimalism means putting yourself above your things. It means removing all the non-essentials from life. It means more peace and focus in a world that is constantly trying to take away both.
What does that mean for you?
While for some that does indeed mean ridding themselves of tons of stuff and moving to a tiny home, for some that can be as simple as organizing the garage or clearing out their closet of old clothes. Maybe that means condensing your mail or clearing out that shoe collection. And no matter how daunting the transition, it doesn’t have to be painful. Luckily, there’s a simple and non-intimidating way to incorporate minimalism into your life.
1. Understand Your Goals
Since the transition to minimalism is such a deeply personal process, it’s important to understand your individual goals for becoming a minimalist. Are you trying to save money? Have less to clean? More time to spend with your family and friends, or perhaps a greater sense of peace?
Before you begin chucking things indiscriminately, or even just feeling the overwhelm of sorting through your stuff, it’s important to know just why you’re doing it. Not only will you find it easier to part with unnecessary stuff, but you won’t beat yourself up over keeping the essential things – whatever that will mean for you. After all, minimalism is about being mindful about your possessions, not punishing yourself for having them.
2. Assess Your Belongings (and Other “Things”)
Now that you know what is important to you – peace, focus, a sense of clarity – it’s important to take stock of everything currently in your life. In the spirit of simplicity and serenity, it’s good to take a look at other things that might be cluttering your life – including items in your schedule and the people in your life.
Is your schedule overbooked, making you feel strained and without rest?
Are some of the people in your life toxic, taking much of your energy or spirit?
Now is the time to lay it all out on the chopping block and do an honest review of what is essential and what is not – and what is downright toxic to you.
3. Remove The Non-Essentials
Finally, it’s time to say farewell to those things that no longer move you in the direction you wish to move in. Set aside a few hours and make a plan to sell or donate unnecessary belongings, and make a time to formally close off toxic relationships.
This might be hard, but you will feel so much stronger, healthier, and more peaceful once you’re on the other side of it. Do it as gently and as slowly as you feel comfortable doing – even if that means just one less item a day or one less nasty relationship a month.
4. Consider Other Ways to Minimize
Now that you’ve opened up your house, your heart, and your wallet to more positive experiences, consider how else you might be able to live a more simple life. Perhaps that means not checking your email until a certain time each day, or perhaps that means leaving your cell phone at home when you leave the house or limiting your news or media consumption daily.
Whatever you decide, do things in the spirit of simplicity. Your heart, spirit, and even body will thank you.