Minimalism as a lifestyle is both challenging and rewarding. It depends on how you look at it, like everything in life. Two people cannot get the same conclusion from the same kind of lifestyle or experience. It’s the same with a minimalist lifestyle.
But what exactly is a minimalist lifestyle, you might ask? It is nothing more or less than minimalism itself. It involves elimination of the clutter in your life to make room for the things that matter; to enjoy moments in your life more than things.
I bet most of us know how to physically reduce the number of things we own. Yes, there are tips and tricks that can help you with this, but if you just reduce the number of things, without understanding the reason why you’re getting rid of them, then in a few months you will be back at square one. Just then, with new things, and maybe more credit card debt.
For minimalism to work, you need to understand its principles, and how they fit with your own values. Without knowing why you’re doing what you’re doing, lasting changes of simplifying won’t make sense. Practicing minimalism is less about physical removal of things, and more about embracing a lifestyle of less stuff and more joy.
Here are 5 tips to make it work;
Minimalism lifestyle is about so much more than just removal of stuff, in the same way, that a healthy lifestyle is about so much more than just diet and exercise. Of course, when you have less things, you’re closer to minimalism, but decluttering without fundamentally changing your mindset is the same as dieting without a purpose. It doesn’t last. Eventually, things will return, and you will gain weight back.
Change your mindset from ‘What I want’ to ‘Is this important?’ Simple living requires an understanding what is a genuine need, and what is just a want (a desire). For example: if you need a new T-shirt because you don’t have any at home, go and buy it, but if you have a few good T-shirts at home, and you want to buy a new one just because you like it, then this is nothing more than a want.
There is nothing wrong with owning 25 pairs of shoes, or 50 T-shirts. Those are just things – temporary things. You can enjoy and appreciate them, but you need to understand what you value.
Do you value spending time with family, or having a big closet is more important to you? Saying no to shopping can free time to spend with the family and help you reach financial independence sooner, so then maybe, you can reduce the number of hours you work to maintain your lifestyle and dedicate yourself to what matters more to you.
Spend some time alone and think about your values. Ask yourself what is important to you, what makes you happy, proud, loved? What gets you out of bed in the morning? Is it stuff, or something else?
When you know the difference, you will be ready to embrace a minimalist lifestyle with an open heart. Whatever your values are, focus on them daily and eliminate anything that may interfere with them.
Owning less is a deliberate choice. A choice that one needs to make if one wants to live a minimalist lifestyle. But just owning less won’t change things a lot. Wanting less is crucial. When you want less, you experience more freedom. Freedom to pursue what you value most. Maybe for you is family, or health, or relationships, creativity, contribution…
When you choose to decrease the importance of stuff in your life, you will find more time to pursue your passions and more room to grow in exciting ways. And when you choose not to want more than you already have, you’re free from the comparison game. You no longer need to earn more money to buy more things, because they are not important anymore to you.
Find contentment in the things you own, because there is a huge probability that you already have enough.
After decluttering, there is a void to be filled. Since your belongings no longer hold you prisoner, you’re free to go and engage with the world around you. You can travel, learn a new skill, start a new hobby. Unconsciously, experiences start to hold more value than stuff ever did. Basically, minimalism is like a big red reset button. Reset button to our childhood. When we were little, we didn’t think about how many teddy bears we had, or how much this doll or car cost. We were outside most of the time, exploring the world, learning, and having fun with our friends. Living a minimalist lifestyle allows that again.
Transitioning from stuff to experiences won’t be easy at first, but with time you would question yourself, why have you ever bought so many things and neglect experiences. Create a bucket list and go catch your dreams.
I know, I know. You’ve been working hard for so long, but you still haven’t reached the end point. Let me tell you something right now, and you can stop reading. There is no end point in a minimalist lifestyle. It is a journey, not a destination. A journey to unlearn a lifetime of habits. I understand that you embarked on this journey to change your life, to be different, and better, and it’s hard to be patient. But for most things in life we need to be. We need to grind and cry, and sweat, and curse sometimes, but eventually we’ll see how our life is different – better. Other people will see it too. Maybe even faster than us.
Real change takes time. Even if you rent a dumpster today and throw all your stuff inside, you would still be the same person tomorrow. Everyone travels at a different pace, so don’t beat yourself up, be patient and kind to yourself. Eventually you will experience the benefits.
Starting a minimalist lifestyle can be easy if you take the right steps. It can also be hard. The truth is probably somewhere in between. Even when you minimize, there will still be new things to organize, declutter and simplify. Don’t be afraid. It’s normal. Like when you clean the house, and next week you need to repeat it. Or you make lunch, and a few hours later you have to prepare a snack or dinner. There will always be the next point. Just live day by day and embrace the journey. It’s worth it.
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