The term less is more is often not embraced as a way of life. After all, we’re humans; we accumulate things. Our homes are shrines to our many belongings. Our wardrobes are spilling with clothes. But there’s the echo of a revolution sweeping through the world, and it’s a lifestyle change, otherwise known as minimalism.
If you’re unsure what it means to be a minimalist, it means that you spend time focusing and clearly choosing where and how to invest your time and your money, opting to skip the “extras” and only choose things that enrich your life. Minimalists also strive to have a minimal impact on the environment, choosing to shop local, shop less, and throw away very little. The belief is that the more self-aware you become, the more you’ll begin to understand the true value placed upon your possessions and your time. And ultimately, the better your life will be in the long run.
Here are 10 ways to maximize minimalism to enhance your life.
1. Less shopping for ‘things’ equates to more time for the things that matter
If you’ve ever gone out for a day of shopping, you know how much of a time-suck it can be. In fact, although I’m ashamed to admit it, once, in Greece on vacation, I spent more time shopping than I did sightseeing the beautiful town. Minimalism isn’t just about having less stuff, it’s also about delegating your time better. Taking back the time you spend obsessing over material goods will free up huge chunks of free time in your daily life. With more time, you’ll be able to focus on those things that matter more to you, such as nurturing friendships, making memories with loved ones, and just being in the moment with the world and those around you.
Minimalists know that true, pure joy comes from within us; it’s not something that can be bought or sold.
2. You’ll be more conscious of how you spend your money
Part of being a minimalist is to practice mindfulness, and there’s no better opportunity to do this than when you head out to shop. As a culture, we tend to impulse buy, and as anyone knows, shopping when in a funk can cause us to emotionally spend and purchase things we don’t really need. Instead of shopping mindlessly, be conscious of what you truly need. Take the time to focus on whether or not the product you’ve selected will help you feel happier, and whether or not it has a space inside of your home. It’s not just about buying fewer things but also how everything you purchase impacts the world. Be conscious of the environmental impacts of what it is you’re buying, and whether or not there is a better choice.
It goes without saying that cutting back on unnecessary spending will also help you save more money. By spending less frivolously, not only will you see your savings steadily grow, but you’ll feel even better when you take your hard-earned money and spend it on the things that really fulfill you. Take a moment to recall something you recently bought. Do you remember even buying it? What it felt like to hand over your money, and to then leave the store and bring it home? No? Now imagine a vacation you’ve taken. I bet you remember far more from that than anything you’ve ever bought inside a shop. Why? Because good experiences happen to live on as sweet, fond memories in our brains. Spending your money on travel, a delicious meal with a friend or other experiences, creates positive memories, something we can feed on during times when we’re feeling low or depressed. It’s moments, not things, that bring true happiness.
Minimalists also like to lend and borrow their items to trustworthy people, such as a friend or family member. Not only does this save money by not splurging, it’s also a really great way to connect with like-minded people. Trading clothes is a great way to reinvent your wardrobe if you’re sick of an item. Plus it helps another person out, too.
3. You’ll learn to fix instead of replace
Most things can and will break. But how often do we simply toss aside the old and replace it with the new? Minimalists are very passionate about fixing their own items. Fixing instead of replacing can help you form a connection with the items that you own, enhancing their value. Spending the time to fix something will not only give you a sense of accomplishment, it will also save you money.
In addition, by focusing on fixing what you have, you’ll learn to take better care of your belongings. Minimalists really take great care of their things because they are things that have been bought mindfully with care and consideration; when there isn’t any excess, the few things that get let in are enjoyed with pride.
4. You’ll learn to live in the moment
How often do you put down your phone and just be IN the moment? We miss so much of the world that goes on around us just by our daily distractions. So much so, that when you eventually do stop and take it all in, you’ll feel surprised by how good it feels. In fact, research shows that when we take the time to strengthen our social bonds, we tend to be a happier than when we’re spending our time acquiring superficial materials.
5. Less stuff means a smaller home
The bigger the space we have, the more stuff we fill it with. And sometimes, as much as we think we need space, we actually end up cluttering the space we do have. This can lead to an overwhelming sense of discomfort and make you feel as though the walls are closing in around you. The space you live in should be one that fills you with ease. When you mindfully choose what you fill your home with, you’ll have less clutter, enabling you to live in a smaller space. This in turn will have a ripple effect on your monthly expenses, hopefully freeing up money for other aspects in your life, such as travel.
If you’re looking for inspiration into what living in a tiny house will be like, Hannah of High Carb Hannah has recently uploaded a video of her moving off grid and into a tiny house.
6. Cleaning your home just got easier
If you’re someone that has to put aside a large portion of your time to clean your house then you’ll probably be surprised to hear that this time can be cut in half simply by getting rid of things you never use. This is one of the benefits that comes from living a life with less stuff. With fewer things cluttering your shelves, you’ll spend less time cleaning around these objects. With less objects to maneuver around, you’ll find you have a cleaner home in a fraction of the time, leaving you the time to focus on more important things.
And if you’re someone that doesn’t like mess, it’s easier to maintain a tidier space when there’s less stuff in it; plus, you’ll be more inclined to spend time at home when your home feels relaxing.
Less clothes also means less time spent doing laundry, saving you both time and money, and decreasing your ecological footprint in the process.
7. You’ll become less stressed
Lets face it, a cluttered lifestyle leads to a cluttered mind. We’re constantly on the chase for the latest ‘in thing’ and whether you’re aware of it or not, it’s having an impact on our lives and on our mental health. Whether it’s the latest Apple phone, the newest appliance, or simply just adding to an ever-growing collection of “the latest and greatest,” we’re recreationally spending and it’s become an addiction. There’s no happiness in what you have when you’re constantly on the lookout for something new; it’s a vicious cycle that will impact your pocket book and frazzle your mind.
De-stress by making a vow that you will only buy something when necessary. When you break the link between materialistic goods and happiness, you’ll find you gain peace and quiet in both your mind and life. You’ll be left with contentment and a sense of gratefulness for what is already yours.
8. Form attachments to people, not things
Instead of forming deep and emotional attachment to belongings, minimalists focus their time and energy on fostering relationships with actual people. If nothing else, being a minimalist will open you up to the realization that things are just that—things. They don’t equal happiness, and they’re replaceable, whereas those special people in your life can never be replaced. It’s with this belief that minimalists choose to spend their money on experiences with their loves ones rather than on things that can very easily be cast aside or forgotten.
9. You’ll feel a sense of gratitude
Being a minimalist is about appreciating how fortunate you are and being thankful for the things that you do have. Recognizing the beauty and privilege of waking up each day in a warm, cozy bed and having constant access to clean water; these are things that many people around the world long for. Instead of longing for more, minimalists choose to be grateful for what they do have. And ultimately, gratitude leads to happiness.
10. You’ll live a more meaningful life
What is it that makes life meaningful? When you choose to live a simpler life every aspect of your life becomes intentional. You start to question what you’ll spend money on and what you want to bring into your home; once you learn to sift through the clutter of your home, closet and general living quarters, you’ll view it as making room for what’s meaningful to you in life. You start to ask yourself the right questions before acting, such as what is truly important to you in this life, what will bring you lasting joy, what really matters.
Everything you choose to do has meaning to you. There’s thought and consideration behind it. The things you place in your life are there because you want them to be there. The people you focus on are those you hold dear. Your whole life becomes full of meaning because you’ve made it that way. Freeing yourself of physical baggage will have a positive impact on your mental baggage in the long run. And who wouldn’t choose to be happy and free?
Lora is a virulent wellness enthusiast. She freelances from the UK where you can find her writing about all things healthy foodie and natural beauty. Fun fact? She reads and watches more DVDs than the average human.