Work hard. Make money. Buy new clothes, the latest technology and more toys for the kids. Does this sound familiar? It’s a blueprint that many of us tend to get carried away with. Our lives can sometimes seem like a series of purchases and consumer transactions, but too many possessions can weight us down – both mentally and physically.
Minimalists, on the other hand, share the belief that material things are not as important as people and experiences in life. They find freedom and mindfulness in austerity, and in the idea that less is more. Stripping away life’s baggage gives minimalists a sense of clarity and perspective.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t have a cell phone or other possessions, nor does it mean you must live off-the-grid, in a bare room, your lifestyle as radically frugal and possession-free as possible. Like most things in life, a healthy dose of moderation is in order. Here’s how you can live a more minimalist lifestyle and enjoy the little things in life!
According to Marie Kondo, author of the international bestseller, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing,” anything that doesn’t “spark joy” or isn’t absolutely necessary should be eliminated from the home. Known as the “KonMarie method,” it’s a loving and methodical approach to tidying up, and one that encourages a rapid and dramatic transformation.
Marie Kondo suggests that the de-cluttering process should be like a ceremonial conversation with the past – objects should be touched, thanked and sent on their way. The KonMarie method doesn’t tackle clutter room by room; it tackles it subject by subject – books, for example, and then dishes or clothes.
It isn’t an ongoing battle against clutter; it’s a “purge” event that leaves clients unencumbered by belongings that carry baggage or anxieties about the future. The decluttering method is so popular in Japan that Marie Kondo has stopped taking on new clients. According to Kondo, “The inside of a house or apartment after decluttering has much in common with a Shinto shrine…a place where there are no unnecessary things, and our thoughts become clear.”
There are numerous benefits of minimalism and living with less. At the same time, people live with less for a variety of different reasons. The reason you embark on a minimalistic lifestyle is probably different than your neighbor’s reason. Here are five ways healthy moderation and cutting down on physical commodities will change your perspective and affect your lifestyle:
- More money. It’s a simple equation. The less money you spend on the latest tech gear and all the other commodities that clog your home, the more money you’ll have in the bank. Whether you want to take a much-needed vacation, save for retirement or invest in the stock market, the less material things you buy on a regular basis, the more money you’ll have.
- More time. How can you dedicate your life to important projects and pursuits when you work a seventy-hour week, and then spend the weekend using your paycheck on things you don’t really need? Consumerism costs time and energy. It robs you of your freedom. Minimalism, on the other hand, allows you more time to spend with your family and friends. When you free yourself of material clutter, you also have more time to engage in healthy and fulfilling activities: traveling, fishing and hitting the gym three times a week are just the beginning.
- Less impact on the environment. Minimalism champions the idea of only using what you need. It’s a lifestyle that extols the virtues of reducing, reusing and recycling. Less consumption equals less reliance on the Earth’s natural resources. Reducing your carbon footprint is just as important as reducing the number of shoes you buy at the mall.
- Less stress. Minimalism is about attaining a sense of clarity and focus. Getting rid of the extraneous helps you better connect with the essential. It’s a way to de-stress and find inner calm and contentment, which is something that’s become increasingly difficult in our hectic, 24/7 society.
- More peace of mind. The less you have to worry and stress about, the more peaceful and mindful you will be. When you minimize your life, the idea is to eliminate the unhealthy elements: overworking, debt, unnecessary bills and payments, these are the things that need a good spring cleaning.
An Increasingly Digital World
“The Internet has revolutionized economics,” says Chris Anderson, a journalist for Wired Magazine. And no demographic has embraced the Internet and its new economy like Millennials. Modern Millennials believe in free-economics – Craigslist, Skype and Google have given way to sites like Go Fund Me and a culture of revenue sharing and crowdfunding.
Today, many Millennials live a minimalistic lifestyle, and these digital nomads spend their time blogging about it on sites such as becomingminimalist.com. Millennials take Uber instead of owning a car, embrace DIY technology and expect things to be free and take up little space. Cheap streaming services like Netflix have replaced cable TV subscriptions. Shelves of books are stored in Kindles, and CDs, LPs, and camera film are digitized. For many Millennials, physical media has disappeared, the world of digital slowly replacing the world of objects. Of course, the Internet isn’t the only reason Millennials embraced minimalism. When you’re saddled with large student loans and attempting to navigate a weak economy, a less is more approach is as much a necessity as a lifestyle choice.
So what’s the point of trying to live a minimalistic life? That’s easy: happiness. But happiness is elusive. In the 1970s, P. Brickman conducted a survey. He discovered that people who won millions in the lottery were no happier than people who had money to meet their basic needs. If money isn’t the key to long-term happiness, then perhaps your lifestyle is. Small changes and adjustments can make a big difference. If nothing else, minimalism is a reassessment of your priorities with the goal of becoming a happier person.
Clutter, debt, material objects and possessions…they can easily become life’s greatest noise and distraction. It’s time to step back and create room for only what’s important. In the end, less is more. It’s more freedom, more time and a greater peace of mind.