Living a Minimalist Lifestyle
Jettisoning Your Stuff for a Happier and Healthier Life
The term ‘minimalism’ immediately conjures of images of a furniture-free home with clean white interiors. But minimalism isn’t about throwing away your worldly possessions and depriving yourself, rather it is about decluttering your life from scratch, and changing your mindset so you can begin to finally understand the things that actually make life more meaningful, simple and peaceful. Of course, a minimalist lifestyle is not for everyone, especially when people, in this modern age, tend to seek solace in transient sources of joy to hide their miseries. However, when you do realize what it does to your mind and life, you will find it easier to embrace a minimalist approach to life.
Here is a quick rundown of the benefits of living the minimal way:
#1 Minimalism gives mental clarity:
Having a handful of material possessions enables you to focus on things that really mean in life. There is an undeniable connection between material comforts and mental health. Studies show that when you clear out your closet, you experience an increase in mental clarity. Have you noticed how relieved and happy you feel when you finally arrange your wardrobe neatly on a spring-cleaning spree? Unfortunately, that feeling disappears as clutter sets in. However, when you adopt a minimalist approach, you get the feeling all the time.
#2 Minimalism gives you emotional stability:
The way you keep your home directly reflects what’s going on inside of you. So, when you remove unwanted items and gradually decide to get rid of stuff that either remind you of an unpleasant sentiment, or a failed relationship, you basically get rid of negative and residual emotions that do nothing to uplift your life, or spirits. Do keep in mind that minimalism is not just an external activity, rather it is a remarkable process of emotional cleansing as well.
#3 Minimalism reduces stress:
Day-to-day household chores such as cleaning the house, washing the dishes and doing the laundry invariably take up less time and energy when you adopt the minimalist approach. With a small amount of things to handle daily, you get to simplify your schedule and fulfill your commitments.
#4 Minimalism saves you money:
Once you veer your thought process to think the minimalist way, you start evaluating your spending habits. It takes time, but eventually it does happen. You start with removing unwanted items in your possession, and then as time passes by, you tend to think twice before shopping in haste. You will notice a shift in your focus. For example, you will start thinking about things you wish to do, rather than the things you want to get.
#5 Minimalism helps you find yourself:
Minimalism is all about getting honest with yourself. It’s about making a decision to either live with unwanted clutter, or let it go for once and for all. Thus, when you decide to go the minimalist way, you invariably start demonstrating honesty in every aspect of your life, including your job and interpersonal relationships. How many times have you made decisions with the sole purpose of maintaining a certain image before others? Well, when you become a minimalist, you become truthful with yourself about who you are, what you believe, and why you do the things you do. You basically live to express, not impress.
#6 Minimalism makes you socialize:
With a decluttered home, you won’t have the hassle of a messy house or a tight schedule to shy away from interacting with your friends. You will have enough time to pursue your creative interests, like take dance classes, or play board games on the floor with your kids, or meditate on a yoga mat all day. Your chores get done in a jiffy, so you have all the freedom you want to sit down for a hearty chat. So, no more hiding behind unproductive possessions and work excuses.
#7 Minimalism gives purpose:
Once you begin viewing possessions differently, you become more aware of the resources used to make those possessions, and how they affect the environment. Soon, you will find yourself aspiring to make a difference to the world with every little deed you do.
Now that you are all geared up to live minimally, you must be wondering where to start. These few tips will help you do so.
#1 Have a clear goal
The concept of minimalism is different for different people. For some, it may mean having a decluttered home and curbing unnecessary expenditure. For others, it may mean ditching their day job to travel more. So, the first step is to understand what exactly is your personal definition of minimalism. Also, it’s important to understand that there is no particular way to live minimally; it’s okay to have your own definition of a simple, stress-free life. If you don’t know how to frame this definition, start to think about what you really want, what uplifts your spirits, and what motivates your life. Thereafter, chalk out a list of items that do nothing to fulfill these interests, and that are getting in the way of doing more of everything you actually want to be doing.
Now, this may seem pretty obvious, but it’s the most difficult step of people who have a huge attachment towards most of their items. Hence, it is recommended to start slow and steady. Throw away or donate things you don’t need at all. Then hide other stuff that you believe you could possibly do without for a couple moments, just to give yourself sufficient time and distance to be able to get rid of them in the future. Thereafter, use that newfound courage to declutter ruthlessly. Keep reminding yourself that removing unwanted stuff from your home and life will simplify it and give you real happiness, one that cannot be achieved from video games and expensive shoes.
#3 Train yourself to live a minimal life
If you have been accustomed to creature comforts for years, you may find it difficult to lead a completely minimalist lifestyle all at once. So, it’s advisable to start slowly; eliminate luxurious weekends, and simple indulgent activities, such as expensive haircuts, or a pricey, weekly dinner. See what it feels like to let go of simple pleasures, and with time, you will begin to understand which things really enhance your happiness and which ones don’t.
#4 Be Honest with Yourself
Minimalism is not just about having a decluttered home. It’s also about being honest about what you need. Before you swipe your debit credit, think if you really need to do it. And ask yourself this question whenever you want to pick up an item in haste. At first, it is natural to justify the purchase out of sheer habit. That is why it is important to think twice, and gradually, as the question seeps in, you will start to realize that you don’t actually need all the items in your shopping cart.
#5 Re-use your stuff
Re-using old stuff is a great habit to gain success on the path to a minimalist lifestyle. How many times have you thrown away old, functional items just because they didn’t quite look good, or match up to the new paint of your home? Well, learning minimalism is a lot about understanding the true value of items, and see them for what they do, rather than how they look. So, save the packaging to reuse for future. Also, consider repairing and fixing worn-out electrical gadgets rather than replacing them. Use worn-out clothes as pillow covers, or scrap fabric for artsy projects. Start thinking creatively to find ways to reuse old yet working items instead of buying something new.
#6 Choose quality over anything else
When you do have to buy something new, consider choosing high-quality items that actually serve the purpose, and last for a long time, rather than things that are just trendy and eye-catchy. Remember, it is always wiser to have a sparse house filled with functional, durable items versus things that you like just because they accentuate the existing decor.
#7 Keep trying
Living the minimalist way doesn’t mean depriving yourself from all sorts of material pleasures, and becoming stoic altogether. It is okay to indulge once in a while, especially when it gets too overwhelming to handle. Remember, as soon as you start resisting your urges, your subconscious mind forces you to indulge in them more and more. This is human nature, after all. It’s important to forgive yourself each time you end up making a purchase in haste, or replace your phone for a more high-end, pricey one. And if you wake up one fine day to find the unneeded stuff clutter lying around your home, and your minimalist goals gone for a toss, just take a deep breath, and start all over again!
When you finally make the decision to lead a minimalist lifestyle, you may across real-life examples of people who made dramatic changes in their life and became an extreme minimalist in just a few days. You may find them give away every little thing they own, right from the dining table to the bed. You too can embark on the same path with a simpler yet equally effective gesture. Start slow and find things that resonate with you best. After all, material possessions are never the solution to stress. You know what are? Relationships and real-life experiences.