Minimalism: Be More With Less
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Minimalism: Be More With Less
Can You Create More For Your Life By Including Less In It?
Minimalism is a concept that's become quite popular in recent years, especially as a topic of discussion related to the phenomenon of the "tiny house movement" in the housing market in this country.
When hearing the word minimalism, your mind likely flows to thoughts of stark simplicity, depriving oneself of material things, existing in a cold, uncomfortable environment devoid of personality, warmth and character.
You may think of minimalists as people living on the fringe; extremists interested in determining how much comfort, technology and consumer goods they can learn to live without.
And while all of those things may be elements of minimalist living, that's not really the point of it or what it's really about.
The essence of minimalism is not stripping away everything to the point of you being miserable or feeling deprived.
In fact it's really quite the opposite.
Minimalism about living your life in a way that brings you personal freedom.
"Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from overwhelm. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from depression. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom."
Joshua Becker, author, founder and editor of Becoming Minimalist describes Minimalism as "the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it."
Think about that for a minute... how amazing would it be to be concerned with, and surrounded by, only those things that mean most to you?
The thing is, by becoming minimalist or including elements of minimalist lifestyle into your life if you so choose, you can shape it to be more of what you want.
Using the ideology of minimalism to help you shift the way you think about your life and the relationship that exists between you and the things in it, may take some effort on your part.
But you can use it as a tool to help you to create a life that is more authentic and genuinely reflective of who you are, which in turn brings you more joy.
Embracing minimalist living (or at least elements of it) compels you to consciously work to determine what genuinely is important to you and including that into your life, while simultaneously and continually working to remove that which no longer serves you and the vision you have for your life.
As a simple "for instance", several years ago I went through my own version of a personal minimalist experience as I created a new living space for myself.
As I moved through the process of choosing, planning and arranging my new space, something that in a lifetime of living I had never had the opportunity to do on my own, I used my own vision of minimalist living to thoughtfully and specifically select each piece of furniture that would be in it.
I brought a very few items that I had previously owned into the space.
Other items I painstakingly and specifically selected, one at a time, for their individual characteristics, functionality and their special appeal to me on a personal level.
I am by no means a “true” minimalist, but I applied my own vision and version of minimalist style that works for me to my living space.
The result is that I now live in an uncluttered space that is not only comfortable to me, but brings me a sense of peace and contentment every single day.
And the ability to live in this way has made a profound difference in my mental and emotional state, which has a powerful impact on my everyday existence and my overall quality of life.
And that's what minimalism can do for you too.
So now it's your turn to see how minimalism could benefit you.
But first things first.
If you're interested in some form of minimalist lifestyle, you need to determine why you want to become minimalist or include more elements of minimalism in your life?
Ask yourself why you want to live more simply?
Do you desire less stress?
Do you want to regain more of your time that's currently being spent to acquire or maintain your “things”?
Want more time with your family?
Do you wish to feel more in control of your life and environment?
Need to have less tasks you are required to perform or be responsible for on a daily basis?
Write it down.
Once you have your list of "whys", keep them close. These will be the motivators for helping you to create your ideal life.
Here are six beginning tips to put you on the path to living simply and with more freedom.
Becoming (your version of) Minimalist.
Minimalist Advantage - Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around.
1. Stop obtaining, collecting and purchasing things in the absence of thoughtful consideration.
Stop trying to "keep up with the Joneses".
Notorious BIG said it best when he said "mo money, mo' problems."
When we are continually trying to get more, more money, more clothes, more toys, we are just creating more stress.
Start working to bring more balance to your life by being more thoughtful when acquiring new things and spending money for purchases.
When you consider adding something to your life or buying something for yourself or your home, ask yourself "Do I really need this?" "Is this something I really want?"
Think of the things that make you happy.
Do you love to travel (but often feel it's not something you can afford to do as often as you'd like)?
If so, you may wish to save for a trip rather than buying another ____________ (fill in the blank).
And speaking of purchases, learn to stop for a moment and consider the true cost of an item you're considering buying.
Ask yourself "How long/how hard do I have to work to earn enough money for this purchase?"
"Would I rather save that amount of money or put the money toward something I think is more valuable/worthwhile instead of spending it on this?"
Another (closely related) issue relative to the consumerism we participate in is what we have to do to afford what we purchase or possess.
Staying in a job we hate just because the pay keeps us in a lifestyle we think we want, does not bring joy.
If you're in a job that makes you miserable or is a source of a majority of your life stress only so you can buy or afford things or to maintain a certain lifestyle level, you may want to reconsider your situation as well as your employment.
Think carefully about scaling back the things you can really live without.
Get rid of expensive toys, objects and activities that are unnecessary, don't really "fit" with who you are authentically or don't contribute to your ultimate happiness.
The result will be you lessening your financial burden and responsibilities.
Then find a job that may not pay you stacks of cash, but makes you feel fulfilled while still allowing you to meet your monetary obligations.
True fulfillment in your work will make you a much happier person than will keeping up with a job you hate just to pad your bank account or to purchase things you don't really need or want in the first place.
Minimalist Advantage - Freedom from overwhelm.
2. Turn off the notifications. Clutter in our lives is not just about having too much "stuff."
We are bombarded all day long by emails, status updates, text messages, work orders.
Whatever it is, we can be notified instantly.
This atmosphere of "urgency" can be stress-inducing, so we often feel the need to immediately answer texts or emails or messages from our BFF only to find they're anything but urgent.
No more. Turn off notifications on your phone, and schedule a time or specific times during your day to check your notifications and messages.
For example, allow yourself 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the afternoon to check your emails or social media.
Then go back to living your life.
Keep your social media "friends" and followers to a minimum; you do not have to follow them just because they're following you.
If your job revolves around social media, make certain to have a professional id and page separate from any personal one.
Minimalist Advantage - Freedom from worry.
3. Rid yourself of O.P.P. (Other People's Problems).
This one is perhaps one of the hardest.
We have those people in our lives that seem to be a big ball of drama (friends, family members, coworker's and acquaintances).
Their lives are chaos's of their creation, and they always seem to need something.
Whether it is validation they seek or someone to clean up their mess, if you are the "go to" person, you know the one who ends up always having to "fix" things, then you need to stop.
No more 3 AM phone calls or rushing to their side whenever they call you.
Set boundaries. If you choose, offer a specific and limited period within which you're willing to allow them to call and vent in a true crisis or emergency. But then, stop it there.
If they cannot respect that, then it may be time to put some distance between you and that individual in your relationship.
Minimalist Advantage - Freedom from unnecessary possessions.
4. Say goodbye to the just in case pile.
We have them, the clothes in the closet (or any number of other possessions) we keep "just in case."
This could be the clothes we hold on to in case we finally lose that extra 10 lbs, or the clothes we keep in case we ever go skiing again.
Whatever the situation, if you are holding onto clothes (or anything else) that you're not using (or haven't used in months or years), donate those things to charity and bring joy to someone else.
Minimalist Advantage - Freedom from stress.
5. Too much clutter causes stress.
When you have stuff laying around, shoes overflowing the closest, stacks of magazines on the tables, five sets of the dishware and you are single; it overloads your senses.
It can cause you to feel stressed, impair clear thinking and your creativity.
It may be challenging to say goodbye to some of these items.
Don't worry you are not alone. Many people, for any infinite number of reasons, attach value and sentiment to the items we possess.
However, it doesn't mean we should hang on to them.
Get rid of duplicates (linen sets, dishes etc.), put only the few magazines that you really want or feel the need to keep in storage bins in the closet or on a shelf (recycling or donating the rest), and find a nice shoe rack.
Minimalist Advantage - Freedom from ambiguity and uncertainty.
6. Clear the mind.
Clutter is not merely physical; our minds can quickly clutter with all the things that make up our lives.
Start by giving yourself five minutes a day to meditate, to clear the mind and sit in silence.
You will find that once you have the time to quiet the noise in your mind, the path to intentional living becomes clearer and more precise.
The key to living your most authentic life is to start small; incorporate small changes daily.
If you are feeling stuck, pull out your "whys" for becoming minimalist and/or living a minimalist lifestyle.
Minimalist Advantage - Freedom from meaninglessness and unintention.
7. Put your possessions, purchase considerations, potential experiences to the time test.
When deciding if something is worth acquiring and worth the investment of your money, time or effort to obtain or keep it ask yourself "Is this something that will be desirable, important to or necessary for me in 30 days, six months or a year?
Is this something that matters to me or makes a difference to my life in 5 or 10 years?"
It's a simple and easy way of putting things in perspective and quickly answers the question "Do I need this in my life?"
Remember minimalism, becoming minimalist or including elements of a minimalist lifestyle to your life is not about just throwing everything away.
It's about assigning value to all of the things in your life, keeping more of the things you love as a part of it and freeing yourself from those things that don't contribute to your best life.
Have you attempted to incorporate minimalism into your life? What was your experience and how did it go? Let me know in the comments.
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