How Minimalism Can Change Your Life
What is minimalism?
How can living with fewer possessions make me feel happier and more fulfilled?
Minimalism is about living a life with as few possessions as possible, with values, energy, and attention focused on feeling, creating, and being.
Being a minimalist is very different from the consumerist culture lifestyle, which encourages the notion that your happiness and fulfillment comes from the acquisition and possession of material items.
What if you could live a life with less fear, more creativity, and improved health?
Is it possible that what we own can have a direct impact on our wellbeing?
On the most basic level, our relationships with material things are comprised of at least three things: a physical, mental, and emotional connection.
Physically, a television, waffle-maker, or fifteen different sweatshirts occupy space in our lives. We might cover our walls with these items, or purchase additional furniture like cabinets, cupboards, and storage bins to hold these items.
Remember what your room, apartment, or house look liked before you moved in? All the emptiness of those rooms that made you feel like there was so much space?
Crap. I used to own so much crap.
When I bought my first home, my closet had one rack.
It was immediately apparent to me that I could fill this closet space with much more if I installed three more storage racks, so I did. I filled up this closet with clothes, books, hats, stuff, stuff, STUFF, and MORE STUFF until every square centimeter was packed.
Next were the walls, the entryways, the doors, and the window sills.
I installed shelves, counters, and anything else that would allow me to store more items that I could purchase.
Full. Full. Full.
I identified myself with all this stuff I had. That's how I was conditioned. I saw ads on TV, magazines, billboards, Facebook– everywhere. If I thought it was going to make me feel good, accomplished, or improve my relationships with my peers, there was a good chance I would buy it.
At the time, I was really proud of myself.
As time went on, I realized more and more how my time and energy are precious and limited and that they were negatively affected by my possessions.
It became more and more apparent that these possessions were not just occupying the physical real estate in my condo, but the mental real estate in my mind.
Even when you have paid the initial cost of an item, it is never actually done "costing" you.
You wish to own 15 different pairs of pants because you appreciate the uniqueness of each one. Your dresser is full and you hardly have space for your other clothes, leading you to have to purchase another dresser. A second dresser occupies more space in your room, which requires you to squish or stack furniture together. With less space in your room, you find yourself becoming increasingly aggravated with the fact that you are always bumping into things whenever you move around your home. The tops of your dressers are cluttered with more and more random items making it challenging to find what you are looking for when you need it.
You bought a boat because you enjoy spending time out on the water. Due to circumstances, you must keep this boat in storage when you are not using it, and pay monthly storage fees.
- Your camera gear runs on batteries that must be fully charged and depleted every three months, or the batteries' cells will go bad prematurely.
What kind of physical, mental, or emotional stress are we susceptible to experiencing in these examples?
I was holding onto 99% of my possessions through my use of these four excuses:
- "Just in case..."
- "One day, I will..."
- "Nice to have..."
- Sentimental / "in memory of"
It had been a slow process, but I gradually coached myself to let go of these excuses.
Later, I would realize how many of these excuses were rooted in my fears. Fear of losing something, such as opportunities or my sense of self-worth, is what gave my excuses their initial legitimacy.
Replacing these excuses with logic, realism, and immediate practicality has helped me get rid of almost everything I used to own.
I would ask myself a question like:
"Am I going to use this thing today?
Within the next three months?
Maybe it is time to donate, gift, or recycle it.
If you were required to own no more than 100 things, what items would you choose?
Notice how the items you choose are of significantly higher value to you than everything else that you would be willing to leave behind.
Your passions, creativity, and inspiration are now able to be expressed in a manner that is not hindered or obstructed by all the stressors created by your excess possessions.
There are fewer items and opportunities for you to become distracted by in your space.
- What could you accomplish with more focus?
You spend less time fixing, cleaning, worrying about, and storing for your possessions when you have fewer of them. Reduce the number of possessions you have to find the time that was obligated to these possessions now freed up.
- What will you do with this extra time now that your possessions are no longer possessing you?
Possessions that require maintenance and storage require your financial commitment to paying for them.
- What would you do with this extra money if you did not have these obligations?
The top benefits I get from minimalism are:
- Fewer distractions = More free time = greater ability to focus
- Enjoying the present moment
- More creativity/exploration
- More learning
- A deeper awareness of thoughts, feelings, and emotions
- More time spent on healthy activities
- More freedom and flexibility to embrace a greater range of opportunities
- More financial wealth
- more opportunity to invest
- travel experiences
- personal business/projects
- more savings
What can minimalism do for you?