The word “minimalism” tends to feel like a played out one these days. It can come across as a trendy, jump-on-the-bandwagon, holier-than-thou type of lifestyle that chastises anyone who questions its sanctity. Or, maybe it’s possible you’ve never heard of it? While the word has been plastered all over the internet recently, with many interpretations as to what exactly it means, the concept is simple, and one that invites us to examine our core life values. At the end of the day, should you consider a minimalist lifestyle?
9 Reasons to Consider a Minimalist Lifestyle
This post has been written by our guest writer, Kerah Kemmerer.
In the simplest of terms, minimalism is “the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it” as defined by Becoming Minimalist. And it doesn’t look too shabby on the budget, either.
Here are nine reasons you should consider a minimalist lifestyle today.
1) Re-define “needs” vs your “wants”
It’s not uncommon to be inundated with ads every few minutes – from our inboxes to…
- social media sites,
- TV commercials,
- online ads,
- streaming sites,
- and even those trusty, old highway billboards.
The line between our needs and wants can easily get blurred if we aren’t intentional. At the core of minimalism is defining that line.
The challenge is that it won’t look the same for everyone. For example, we all need clothing. But to what extent? A single person or a couple may be able to significantly reduce the amount of clothing they own more easily than a family with several children. For a larger family, it may make sense to hang onto clothing to pass down between kids rather than go hard-core in reducing the amount they own. However, there is likely room for a larger family to reduce the number of toys and games they own while reassessing what they are willing to bring into their home moving forward.
The point isn’t to compare what others define as needs versus wants
Rather,examine what you TRULY need to live a fairly comfortable life. A life that doesn’t give in to the slow creep of lifestyle inflation and accumulation.
- A personal example that may seem kind of silly is when I came to the realization that we didn’t “need” to replace our microwave when it broke down. We realized we were being a bit lazy and could just as easily use the stove.
- Same with the fancy coffee maker. After the little guy bit the dust, we purchased a $15 French Press. Not only was it a cheap replacement, but it was also easy to clean, took up less space and the coffee tasted better than before!
Keep in mind there is no shame in enjoying the convenience of items when you consider a minimalist lifestyle. The goal is to assess the level of value or joy an item brings to your life and decide if it’s worth the cost or space that it’s occupying.
Related: 5 Ways to Get a Grip on Spending
2) Reclaim more downtime and make space for creativity
It seems safe to say that many of us wish we had more hours in a day, or even just a bit more energy to enjoy the hours we do have. Here is another reason to consider a minimalist lifestyle.
By taking the time to go piece-by-piece through your home and separate items based on whether to:
- Throw away,
- Give away,
- or Put away…
…You will begin to reduce clutter and nearly eliminate the need to constantly “pick up” around the house.
Fewer items also means fewer things to dust and clean, which will save significant personal time or cut down on the frequency of a housecleaner coming in. It will also help you take a hard look at all of those “just in case” items you can never seem to let go.
Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist walks you through the steps of how to work through items to decide what stays and what goes.
Less time cleaning isn’t the only benefit though!
With a newfound sense of freedom from needing more “stuff,” you will reduce the amount of time you spend shopping for items. You’ll be able to confidently turn down the freebies that tend to pile up in your car and junk drawers at home and stop wasting energy on moving them into the trash later anyway.
With less to shop for, you’ll likely reduce the amount of driving you would have done on weekend shop-a-thons or at least reduce the number of carbon emissions needed to deliver a package from your online shopping extravaganza.
With the extra time and extra money in your pocket, you may just find ways to fill your time with activities you enjoy, like:
- planning an adventure,
- visiting with friends,
- balancing the budget, and
- spending more downtime with your kids instead of having to harass them about cleaning up all the time.
3) Conserve more mental and emotional energy
The benefits don’t stop there either! Have you ever noticed that working within a cluttered or busy environment can sometimes evoke feelings of anxiousness? With a clean and minimally-filled space, our brains don’t need to process so many visual stimuli, relieving them of feeling potentially frazzled or burnt out. Creating a sense of order and space allows our brains to rest and access the more creative thoughts we are often too stressed or busy to allow to surface.
I recommend that you learn more about the psychology behind how clutter impacts our brains.
You also won’t need to spend so much time debating over which outfit to wear, deciding which shampoo or lotion to use from the under-the-bathroom-sink collection, or which pot/bowl/cup/plate to choose from the overflowing kitchen cabinets.
Fewer daily decisions mean less time and energy spent on tasks that don’t add much value to your life.
4) Break through emotional and mental blocks and “let go” of the stuff the suffocates
Sometimes the visual stress isn’t only caused by clutter, but by the mental and emotional burden an object itself might represent.
Maybe you are hanging onto a family heirloom because you feel you should, but just seeing the item irritates or saddens you. Maybe you are hanging onto clothing “just in case” you lose that weight. Instead of motivating you, however, it’s only ended up acting as a source of self-deprecation and discouragement.
Letting go of these items will feel like physically removing a weight off your chest as you’ll stop buying into the narrative these items represent. You’ll be able to free your heart and mind of all the associated negative feelings and make space for something better.
5) Learn how to let go of emotional ties to “things” while still honoring the memory
While learning to let go of certain items that cause distress is a positive thing, there will be plenty of memento items that will be difficult to let go. These are the items that previously brought you joy and are visual reminders of some of your happiest memories.
To consider a minimalist lifestyle approach with these items, consider how you can still retain the memory while letting go of the physical object.
- One idea is to take a photo of each item, print and paste into a journal and write out the memory associated with each treasured piece. You can also do this digitally by creating a slideshow instead.
- Another idea is to create works of art out of old cards and letters or meet up with friends for a letter read-a-thon before hosting an epic bonfire to send off those paper time capsules. Yes – written letters were still a thing pre-Y2K.
Check out even more ideas for preserving memories without needing to keep the item.
6) Reduce your negative impact on the environment
When you consider a minimalist lifestyle, you will see a ripple effect that reaches far beyond your corner of the world.
Less consumerism lowers the demand for various products and services in a way that reduces the need for companies to outsource to places where workers’ safety and fair compensation are not always a priority.
Lower production means less industrial waste being released into the air, contaminating water sources, and ultimately, compromising our health.
Fewer purchases of cheaply-made, disposable or novelty items mean fewer overflowing landfills.
It is even possible that by reducing our need for cheap and quick food, clothing and other everyday items, we will create a larger demand for high quality, fair-trade, locally-made products that will serve their purpose for many years to come.
We may also begin to see more organizations stepping up to the plate to reduce their harmful environmental impact.
7) Learn how to prioritize the people who create value in your life
The concept of minimalism goes beyond just physical items. In the same way that “stuff” can suck the life and energy out of you, unfortunately, so can people.
We all know at least one person who can never seem to find the silver lining in anything…or the one who expects you to drop everything the moment they need help with something…or the one who likes to gossip, complain, or talk for hours on end without ever quite remembering to ask how you are doing.
In the same way that clutter can disrupt your brain and add stress in your life, so will being around people who never seem to bring anything positive to the table. Weeding them out is easier said than done, of course, and you don’t want to be unkind in the process.
The best way to start is to find ways to fill your time and social calendar with more uplifting friends and family.
If you can’t find anyone right away, start focusing on bettering yourself through:
- listening to podcasts,
- and seeking to be the type of person you would want as a friend.
Being around or learning from people who will challenge you to become the best version of yourself is important for personal growth, and keeps you inspired to be that person for someone else.
8) Keep more money each payday
Hopefully, by now, the saving money aspect is fairly apparent. Less stuff needed = less stuff purchased, stored, cleaned, replaced, etc.
For every item you decide to repair on your own, you save the difference and learn a new skill in the process. When you learn to do without certain conveniences, it often opens up a new world of alternative options and different lifestyle considerations.
Something as simple as eliminating paper towels and napkins and replacing with cloth saves money and reduces environmental waste. The trade-off is that more time will be required. You will need to wash and dry the items regularly. If the cost of running the dryer during the linen cleaning process bums you out, you can always hang outside in the summer and put a drying rack in the shower in the winter.
…This is just a small example of deciding which is more valuable to you…
- money, or
Minimalism looks different for everybody and can sometimes be confused with frugality. While it’s certainly true that you will begin to approach various areas of your life with a more frugal mindset, the main idea is to determine what it is that you value most. Once you decide areas that aren’t worth your time, money or effort, it becomes a lot easier to focus on the areas that are worth it.
9) Re-discover your core values and your “why”
The last reason to consider a minimalist lifestyle is to get to the root of what you truly want for your life.
- Do you want to hustle for years earning money just to fork it over to retailers for items that bring little joy to your life or were just an impulse buy?
- Do you want to keep accumulating so much stuff that each time you move, the next place needs to be larger – or you need a storage unit to keep all the extra items you’ll eventually forget about?
- Would you ever want your legacy to be summed up by the pile of things you collected and that others will be left to sort through when you pass on?
What about having more time for life? Would weekends be a lot more enjoyable if instead of mowing the large lawn, cleaning and maintaining the house, or shopping, because there is always one more tool or piece of decor you need, you could reduce or eliminate these activities altogether? Maybe you could even downsize to a smaller space and save even more money than you ever imagined while still enjoying all the comforts of home.
Do you want to keep carrying all that stress plugging away at a job you don’t love just for the higher salary that ends up being drained away before the next payday? What about your friends? Do you feel like you are always trying to impress them rather than focusing that energy on meeting like-minded individuals?
By taking a granular look at your life and seeking out ways to reduce wasted time, energy, effort and expenses, you will begin to experience a new level of personal freedom and joy.
What do you think? Does it sound worth it?
Will you consider a minimalist lifestyle? Why or why not? Share your thoughts below!