There’s a common misconception that all minimalists live in tiny apartments with bare walls and own less than 100 things each. They don’t have families, they travel 24/7 and they only dress in black and white. I’m happy to report, that this is far from true.
The truth is, anyone can be a minimalist.
That’s because minimalism is not an end goal, it’s a journey. And that journey looks different on everyone. Minimalism is a tool that’s available to anyone who wants to move towards a simpler, more intentional life. It means more than just getting rid of “stuff”. It’s about being mindful and deliberate in all aspects of life.
It’s about making the distractions mean less and the best parts of life mean more. It’s about figuring out what adds value to your life and honing in on these experiences. This means being intentional about the things you own, but also about your relationships, your time and your energy.
In this How To Minimalism series, I’m going through the four different aspects that I think are most important to intentional living.
You will learn:
- 1. How to Live With Less and Be Happier (That’s this one!)
- 2. Four Ways to Create Intentional Relationships.
- 3. Mindful Time Management: Spend Your Time Intentionally.
- 4. How to Direct Your Energy Towards Your Passions.
Whether you’re itching for a lifestyle change or simply curious about what this minimalism thing is, I’m giving you the full 360 of how to live like a minimalist. As someone who’s big on taking action, I created a free guidebook to go along with this series. It includes worksheets and checklists to help you get moving (so there’s no avoiding your untidy kitchen!). Go here to download your FREE copy of Live Simply, Live Fully: A Minimalism Guidebook.
We’ve got a lot to cover so let’s jump right in!
Living With Less: It’s All About Intention
Owning less allows you more space and freedom and can help you gain perspective on what’s important to you. But simply throwing out 90% of your stuff won’t make your life better. In fact, it is completely possibly to clear out all the clutter and still feel overwhelmed and unhappy.
That’s because it’s the intention behind the decluttering that can be life changing. Let’s keep this in mind as we go forward.
Detach Yourself From Your Stuff
In the western world, overconsumption is a fact of life. We are constantly bombarded with advertisements telling us to buy more things in order to attain happiness. Gadgets are not made to last, but to be replaced and our clothes go out of fashion sooner than we can get them out of the store.
We are trapped in this cycle of spending more money and collecting more things in an effort to better ourselves. We think that bigger is better and the more we have, the merrier. But what if less is actually more?
One way to get out of the cycle of buying is to detach yourself from your material possessions. Recognize that what you own does not define you. A simple way to practice this, is by decluttering your living space. Those new to minimalism typically start their journeys here.
Hey! Want your free Jump-Start Your Decluttering Plan? Get it here!
Let Go Of The Excess
Minimalism isn’t a competition. It isn’t about madly throwing out all your stuff to see how little you can own. So there is no magic number of things that one person should own to be happy. But most of us are probably hanging on to a lot more than we need to!
This extra stuff we buy not only makes a hole in our wallets, but takes up physical space in our homes that might be better used otherwise. These material possessions add mental clutter and make it more difficult to navigate and maintain our homes.
It can be difficult to discern what we do and don’t need when we are so used to investing a lot of value in the things we own. But if we take a step back and ask ourselves truthfully, “Do I need this?” “Do I use this?” and “Do I love this?”, it’s easier to get rid of things than we might think. These are the questions I asked myself as I decluttered my entire apartment – check out that series here.
Decluttering forces us to consider every object in our homes and pay attention to its place in our lives. It allows us to uncover those things that really make us happy and highlight them in our living spaces. It is mindfulness practice that allows us to intentionally create a home we love that is unique to us.
For example, you might discover a painting that was hidden in storage that you would love to see hanging on a wall. Alternatively, you might find that you are uninspired by a painting you have on display and decide to get rid of it. (See my decluttering tips here).
Psst! Want your free Declutter Your Home Checklist? Get it here!
Getting rid of the excess is only half the battle. The next step is not acquiring more junk! The only way to do this is to shop mindfully. How can we do this? Here are 3 simple tips I like to follow.
- Avoid The Malls. Malls are designed to lead us into buying things we don’t need – so, avoid them. Only make the trip when there’s something specific that you really need. And when you do hit the mall, get in and out. No window shopping!
- Shop With A Clear Shopping List. Whether you’re at the grocery store or an outlet mall, come prepared with a list of what you intend to buy. The exercise of writing the list will help you set your intentions for the excursion and give you a good idea of what you truly need. Resolve not to stray from the list.
- Wait Before Purchasing. My number 1 tip to avoid impulse buying is to delay the purchase. If you see something you want to buy that isn’t on your list, tell yourself you’ll come and pick it up at the end of your shopping trip or in a few days. Once a good amount of time goes by, you’ll have a better idea of whether you truly need that item or if you even want it anymore. Chances are, you’ll completely forget about it!
For more on mindful shopping, check out my article on How To Go Shopping And Not Buy Anything.
Clearing out the clutter is a great mindfulness practice, but it won’t turn you into a “minimalist” overnight. Next, we’re covering Four Ways to Create Intentional Relationships, so click ahead for Part 2!