Life isn't about things. It's about relationships and experiences. For most people, this idea might be the biggest takeaway from the COVID era. While it's unlikely that consumerism is on the way out, many people are starting to rethink some aspects of their lives, wondering what it is they truly need. One approach to answering this question that's gaining steam is called minimalism, and this article serves as a brief introduction with some useful pointers to help you get started.
What is a Minimalist?
Minimalism is defined as consciously living with just the necessities. It is reducing material possessions so that you experience more of what life offers. Consider this: with fewer outfits; you have less laundry to do. Likewise, fewer dishes mean less time and natural resources to clean them. A minimalist lifestyle delivers you the freedom to avoid needless spending and distractions from what's truly important.
What Are the Benefits of Being a Minimalist?
The main benefit of becoming a minimalist is decluttering. However, this term does not apply only to the physical layout of your home. Instead, it describes every dimension of your life, from how you organize your possessions to how you make financial decisions. Ultimately, minimalism is living in a way that lets you focus on what you value.
Examples of specific benefits of minimalism include the following –
Saving Money: If you only buy what you need, as opposed to what you want or what would be nice to have, you will have a lot of money left to put toward important experiences. Moreover, you will be much less likely to run into financial hardship in the event of an economic downturn.
Saving Time: Shopping less, cleaning less, searching for things less – all these side-effects free you up to pursue whatever is important, whether it's cultivating your personal relationships or boosting productivity. Without frivolous distractions, you will be a more effective person.
Saving Your Health: Many people work ridiculous hours to make money. Then, they buy expensive things they never have time to enjoy because they work all the time. It's a vicious cycle. And besides, many of the things people buy with their money are neither necessary nor fulfilling. Minimalism reorients you towards what matters most to you, improving your social and emotional health.
Saving the Planet: Minimalist living is more sustainable living. If you don't purchase what you don't need, your environmental footprint will go way down—less fossil fuel use, less electricity, less food, etc. However, never discount the good a simple diet and lifestyle can have on your physical health and how it impacts the planet.
Minimalism Orients You Toward What Is Necessary
What are you unable to live without? That is the fundamental question that minimalism encourages us to ask. It should accompany you on your decluttering journey. Taking note of things like your favorite apparel, décor, and home goods is a straightforward step toward simplicity, but this approach should apply to everything, including people!
Stop obsessing about what you "should" retain. It's easy to let an unwanted gift from your favorite uncle gather dust, or to stay in touch with old acquaintances who are a drag on your mood or well-being, but if you're never going to use it and it doesn't help you, it's time to let it go. Instead, remember as you move through the following steps to take stock of what you desire and need in the "perfect life" you're shooting for.
It Starts with a Single Step
You don't have to surrender all your possessions and move into a small house to embrace the minimalist mindset. Perhaps your quest for minimalism begins with a quick closet purge. On the other hand, maybe it starts with letting go of harmful social connections. It might also imply resolving to buy fewer items. While minimalism can direct every part of your life, from housekeeping to relationships, feel free to start with just one!
Once You Choose, Commit!
After you've chosen what must be kept in the part of your life you've decided to minimalize, it's time to eliminate unnecessary clutter. Go through the closet or the cupboard and put aside everything you need - chuck everything else. You can approach your friends' lists on social media the same way. For physical decluttering, consider whether you want to donate things that are still usable. Recycling and upcycling are also great options!
Budget Your Resources
After decluttering, you need to make a budget for whatever part of your life you're working on. It may sound odd, but the term "budget" does not apply just to finances. Of course, you will keep more cash in your pocket by buying fewer things, freeing up funds for other adventures. But other aspects of your life could do with a budget, too.
To get your finances sorted, use any common formula like the 50/30/20 Rule. If you're trying to cut down on time spent online, maybe put a time limit in place. You could also limit the number of contacts you permit yourself on social media. Whatever the case, it's important to put safeguards in place to prevent "clutter" from reaccumulating.
Minimalism Clears the Way for Authentic Living
Minimalism encourages individuals to reconsider their commitment to material items, and this attitude also extends to the experiences of life. Therefore, evaluate which connections are most important to you and which are just psychological or physical clutter. Your time and mental energy are very important resources, so make the most of them by choosing to spend time with the friends and family who mean the most to you. Once you have managed to eliminate all the extraneous distractions from your home, finances, and social life, focus on engaging with the people who make life worth living and having experiences that you will remember forever.
Travel Light – Adopting minimalist travel is something you can do even before committing to it in your home life. You can save money on baggage and feel great about lowering your carbon footprint, too. Before you depart, draw up a list of what you absolutely need to travel safely. If it's not on the list, leave it at home!
Ditch the Tech – Less screen time is always a good thing. There are plenty of apps that track and help limit it, and some of them come preloaded on devices. When it comes down to it, a very small amount of time spent scrolling is even remotely necessary. Do something meaningful instead.
Seek Quality – Living on a budget does not mean being a cheapo. It means avoiding unnecessary expenses. So don't be afraid to use some of the money you save to buy high-quality necessities. The chair you always use, the clothes you wear, the food you eat. If the benefit that comes with a slightly higher price tag is better health or a wardrobe that lasts longer, it's worth it!