What do you think of when you hear the term minimalism? Ten-piece wardrobes? One room houses? No car, internet, or TV? Minimalism can include these things, but it doesn’t have to. Minimalism is–simply–living simply. What that entails will vary depending on your location, career, family, and who you are as a person. But in any case, it can increase your quality of life, making you happier, healthier, even wealthier.
Minimalism ties into the Buddhist idea of non-attachment. Attachment is believed to be “the root of suffering,” but when we free ourselves from these bonds we limit the pain that we endure. Life is finite, as are our possessions, commitments, and relationships. I’m sorry. I realize I sound like a total downer. But the point is that simplicity will make us appreciate what we do have in our lives more. And if we are to lose what we have, it won’t take away from our identity.
Minimalism frees up time so that we may spend it doing what we love with those we love. It frees up mental space so that we may feel less stressed, less anxious, and so that we may devote more mental energy to ideas or projects or goals. It saves us money, making us realize how good it feels to have disposable income set aside for the times we really need it. These are some of the primary reasons why minimalism appeals so much to me personally, but they are surely not all.
If you are intrigued by the idea of simplifying your life, do not let intimidation hold you back. Here are some (realistic) steps towards reducing the clutter in your life:
1. Donate or sell everything that no longer serves you. This includes clothing, CD’s, books, even food. There’s no point in keeping something around if it is not being put to use. Now I know how hard it can be to give something up- which is why I suggest you try a “hiding” method if you are having a difficult time. To do this, take all of the items that you do not currently use and store them away somewhere. A few weeks or months down the road, take a second look at the items. If there are things you truly missed or needed, decide whether you want to incorporate them back into your life. For everything else, get rid of it- in a sustainable fashion, of course.
2. Organize your belongings. Scan documents and photos, categorize them neatly on your computer, then recycle the paper copies. Go through your closets, fridge and pantry to determine what you have- three little black dresses? Two pairs of nude heels? Do you really need repeats of such similar items? As far as food goes, using what’s oldest first will decrease waste and keep you from buying something twice.
3. Speaking of food, eat simpler. A fancy-pants meal is nice every once in a while, but a minimalistic meal can be just as nourishing and tasty. I try to keep my dishes pretty simple because it makes me feel great (ahem, stellar digestion) plus it saves me time and money. Often times just one food (bananas, potatoes, beans, rice, etc.) can make a perfect meal. Add a few spices and you’re golden.
4. Refrain from buying anything new unless absolutely necessary. And be honest with yourself- you know whether you truly need something. This is a practice I chose to enact in my own life a few months ago and I couldn’t be happier. I have been rediscovering things that I forgot I even had and making the most of what I own currently.
5. When you do buy something, make it count. I’m all for saving money in just about any way. However, there are times when spending a bit more for a quality item will save you in the long run. Obviously when you buy something that will last you longer, you won’t have to replace it as soon. (Think basics like jeans, classic shoes, electronics, appliances).
I encourage you to see where and how you can simplify your life. I feel confident that you will see benefits from even the simplest of changes. If you want to dive even further into the lifestyle, there are plenty of blogs that can give you aid. These are a few of my favorites: Becoming Minimalist; The Minimalists; Mnmlist.
Related: 3 Ways to Radically Reduce and Be Happier
Think Yourself Toward Compassion
Eco Chic Challenge: the 10-Item Wardrobe