UPDATED: Mar 24, 2020
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In recent years, minimalism has become a hugely popular trend. With more and more people choosing to rid themselves of personal possessions, and with thrift stores receiving significantly greater amounts of donations, questions come into the picture.
What does minimalism entail? What benefits come from minimalist living? How do I embrace a minimalist lifestyle?
Minimalizing has an array of associated benefits and there is a surplus of resources available to help incorporate it into your life.
Keep reading to learn more about the many benefits of leading a simpler life, and discover some helpful tips along the way to help you reach your goals.
What is Minimalism?
Broadly speaking, minimalism is a philosophy that aligns with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s idea that “Less is More.”
Minimalism is the process of acting on a desire to exist with fewer material possessions. For many individuals, this means downsizing homes, ridding themselves of belongings that are deemed unnecessary, and putting an emphasis on experience as opposed to material wealth.
Benefits of Minimalism
There are a wide variety of potential benefits that stem from living a minimalist life. These can range from monetary benefits to an improved mental state. Some direct examples of the benefits of minimalism include:
- Additional Funds: An increase in available funds stems from sorting through belongings and selling/donating unnecessary items, but also from lifestyle changes that originate by differentiating wants versus needs.
- Mind Clarity: When you have a grocery-list of to-do’s, your mind is jumbled. The same goes for too many belongings. Living with less means better mental health. This sense of minimalism also helps with clear-headed purchases. Making purchasing decisions with mental health in mind rather than instant gratification is a good habit to follow.
- Increased Health: Decreasing clutter has been found to improve your health.
Lynne Gilberg, a professional organizer form California claims that clutter is detrimental for your physical and mental health.
- Safety: While this applies more specifically to hoarders, an excess of belongings can create fire hazards.
- Memories: With an emphasis on experience over material wealth, more memories are created from those very experiences.
Minimalist Living Tips
While it may seem relatively straight-forward and simple to live minimally, this is not always the case. Minimalist living means something different to everyone, so individuals create the ability to pick and choose what that signifies in the context of their own lives.
That being said, below are some general tips that can help many successfully enjoy living a life with less:
Identify Why You Want to Live Minimally
Although it may seem monotonous, identify the exact reason (or reasons) as to why you want to embrace minimalism; write those down. This can be as specific as wanting to research other modes of transportation to save on gas money, or to reduce the amount of vehicles you own. An understanding of your intended outcomes will help develop minimalistic tendencies that work specifically for you while dually reminding yourself why you chose to pursue this type of lifestyle change in the first place.
Focus on the Essentials
Understanding what is essential is a process. According to the financial advisor and bestselling author Dave Ramsey,
“We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.”
The definition of ‘what is essential’ changes from person to person and that is okay. A good measure for defining whether something is essential or not comes down to the extent of its use. If you use an item twice a year, there is a good chance that it is not essential. Other items – like health and home insurance – would be considered essentials, despite the fact that you may not always use them.
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Quality Over Quantity
Purging belongings is great, but there will always be items you need in life. When this is the case, prioritize smaller amounts of high-quality items over a larger amount of low-quality items for longevity. For example, this can include splurging on a quality Patagonia jacket over the more reasonably priced Sport-Tek jacket for the longevity of it.
Although minimalizing is intended to take the stress off of people, it can be overwhelming at particular points. Take things one step at a time and break your main goals down into smaller goals. For example, if your goal is to declutter your house, start with your room first, or even more specifically, start with your closet. Address one area of your life at a time and try to accomplish that one goal first, instead of attempting to fix everything all at once.
Doctor Maxwell Maltz made the claim that it takes a minimum of 21 days to form a new habit, and one day to break it. This is important to keep in mind when embracing a minimalist lifestyle because it is a process.
Changing your behavior, habits, and lifestyle is a difficult venture.
However, you shouldn’t give up because it’s hard, or because you find difficult letting go of certain things. Address your struggles and then combat them with solutions to headway the adoption of minimalism in your life.