It is ironic that I started my journey into a minimalist lifestyle as a result of moving into a bigger home.
In this post, I want to talk about what made me decide to embrace minimalism, the benefits that I see from leading a simpler life and how you can get started with a minimalist lifestyle.
My Journey into Minimalism
As a teenager, I had posters of rock bands covering every inch of my bedroom walls. I usually had rings on nearly every finger and I loved armfuls of bangles. I continuously surrounded myself with “stuff”.
In my twenties, I started the habit of ferociously tidying and organizing everything in sight whenever I felt stressed out. If you walked into the house and I was tidying drawers, best you avoided me.
Added to that, I was a bit of a compulsive shopper when I got bored or stressed. I would go on shopping sprees to give myself an emotional lift and then I’d have to deal with the aftermath of coming down from the high.
So, my life looked a bit like this:
- I would clear out my clutter and re-organize the house.
- Inevitably I would start to buy things again.
- Then I would start to feel weighed down by all the “stuff”, and start worrying about all the money I am spending on said stuff.
- The only way I could soothe this mental and emotional turmoil was when I organized my things and cleared the clutter.
And this is pretty much how it went. Wash, rinse, repeat.
When we started with our family, it got worse for me, because in addition, I now had to deal with the stuff of two extra little people in our home. And you might know that the number of possessions little people have, is completely out of proportion to their size.
Finally, when we moved into a bigger house in the country with so.much.space.to.fill, I had reached my limit. I was overwhelmed, constantly tidying and cleaning, and angry at everything that was in the house.
I knew something had to change
There were too many things in my way. I wanted to rather play with the kids than be stressed out about “all the things that need to be done”. And if I did play with them, I didn’t want to pay the price
I wanted our home to be a soothing haven for us, not something which owns us and feeds off our energy and focus.
The only answer I could come up with was that I had to simplify. And for it to work this time, I had to change some of my habits.
Definition of a Minimalist Lifestyle
When you think about minimalism, you might think about empty rooms, lots of white spaces and a frugal, austere lifestyle.
Or perhaps a lifetime of travel to exotic locations with only a backpack and a laptop.
Most of the stylized photos on Instagram puts minimalism squarely out of reach of couples, families, and anybody who actually eats, sleeps and wears clothes.
Sure, aesthetics can play a role, but minimalism is more than bare white walls, a spotless house or traveling the world.
In truth, a minimalist lifestyle helps you to simplify and focus on what is important to you.
It opens space for you to have more meaning in your life.
You get to decide for yourself what is important to you and what you value, rather than listening to what advertisers or society tells you to have or do.
Embracing a minimalist lifestyle creates a mindset of intentional living and this looks different for everyone, depending on what season of your life you are in.
The Benefits of a Minimalist Lifestyle
There is no right or wrong way to *do* minimalism, but there are definitive benefits that you gain from reducing your mental and physical clutter.
The most obvious benefits are that you gain more time and freedom. It is easier to find things when everything has its place. Less clutter leads to a neater home which is easier to keep clean. You save money and can pay off debt faster.
An unexpected bonus of having a minimalist lifestyle is that it helps you to prioritize as you start to see what is most important to you.
You live more consciously, and you are more deliberate in your actions which helps you to achieve your goals.
In my own life, I struggle much less with feelings of anxiety or depression. I find my monkey mind has become quieter as there is less stuff that needs (demands) my attention.
How to Get Started with a Minimalist Lifestyle
Minimalism is about living with less. But it is about more than just getting rid of your possessions. It is about making a
This explanation by The Minimalists sums it up perfectly:
Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus – The Minimalists
So if you want to start living a more minimalist lifestyle, or you have started but you need some more inspiration, here are the things which I have done to help me.
1 Know you why
When you live a purposeful and intentional life, part of that means that you have to ask yourself some thoughtful questions.
Why do you want to simplify your life? What is it that drives you? Do you want to get out of debt? Have more personal freedom? Live a simpler and cleaner life? Do you want to do it for the environment?
Whether a single reason or a combination of these, clarity on your why can help you make the mindset shift you need.
Our mindset is something internal to us, but it shows up in our words, actions and choices. Hence the saying: you are what you think!
2. Make the decision to stop buying stuff
Impulse buys are what leads to clutter. Therefore, make the decision to stop buying things and rather shop your closets, the pantry and the fridge. Only buy those things which are necessary for your physical survival (like food) and safety.
You don’t need to get special furniture or beautiful containers or striking pot plants to have a minimalist lifestyle. Just.stop.buying.stuff.
This will help you see what becomes possible without having to buy your way into happiness.
3. Start small to test the waters
Don’t try to purge your house (and your mind) in the space of a weekend. You will get overwhelmed and frustrated.
Decide on one room in your house and start there. If you don’t know whether you will need something, put those items in a box, seal it, and store it out of sight. If you haven’t used it after 6 months, you probably won’t need it and you can donate the box as is.
Sometimes we find it hard to part with stuff that we spend good money on.
I find it helpful to ask myself if I would buy this again, and if I did, how much would I pay for it. It can put things into perspective and make it easier to let go of.
4. Get rid of one piece of junk every week
That is 52 pieces of junk in year. By junk I mean anything that you can’t sell or donate. Avoid sending everything to landfill and rather see if you can recycle it (or parts of it).
This is a hard truth, that you need to accept. Realize that when you start on the path to minimalism, you will need to throw stuff away. This can be a real challenge especially if
5. Practice daily maintenance
Get into the habit of making your bed and clearing your counters from clutter every day.
As you start reducing the number of unnecessary possessions you have, you will automatically notice how much less clutter there is to clear every day.
You will also see how much easier it is to keep your house tidy and clean.
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A Minimalist Lifestyle is a Journey, not a Destination
You might know the expression that says every journey starts with a single step, the same applies to simplifying your life.
It has taken years for our habits and buying behaviors to build up clutter in our homes and minds. It is simply not possible to change that overnight.
And you are being unkind to yourself it you expect that to happen.
When you start to think of minimalism as a way of life, you see that even if it takes you a year to declutter your life that’s ok.
You gain a freedom that is not tied to physical possessions. Where you are in the season of your life will determine what possessions you have.
A minimalist lifestyle is not rigid and prescribed. It is in a constant state of flux depending on your needs.
And as I am so clearly seeing in my own life, when I am not being distracted by things I am much more conscious of ways to feel happier happier and more fulfilled.