About a year and a half ago, we became self-described minimalists, although it’s a lifestyle we’ve naturally gravitated toward for years. Our interest in minimalism started to increase as we’ve become more intentional in our lives and our priorities shifted. Two years ago, if we had heard the word minimalist, we would have thought 150 square foot home, owning 100 things and never spending any money. Why that might be a definition of someone’s minimalism, we were happy to learn that that didn’t have to be ours and that we got to define what minimalism meant to us and how it could make us happier and lead more fulfilling lives. We wanted to share our thoughts on what we think minimalism is, what it isn’t, how you might incorporate it into your life and the possible benefits you’ll gain along with some really great resources out there for learning more about living a minimalist lifestyle.
Joshua Becker, author of the Becoming Minimalist blog, defines minimalism as “the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it.”
Minimalism isn’t about scarcity, living without the things you really love or going without necessities. Instead, it’s getting rid of all of the unnecessary things in your life that take up room, cost you money and cause you stress so that you do have room for the things you enjoy most. It’s simplifying your lifestyle in terms of clutter, commitments, financial obligations, negative relationships, clothing and stuff in general so that you can focus on the people, relationships, goals and hobbies that you love.
Some areas in your life that you might consider minimizing and the possible gains you may see:
Owning a smaller house means a smaller purchase price, mortgage, utilities, taxes and insurance. A smaller home gives you less rooms to fill up and less of a house to maintain and fix when things break. This ultimately costs you less freeing up money to spend on things that matter more to you. You also have less stress if life goes sideways (job loss or change, illness, etc.) because you aren’t under a bunch of pressure to keep up a home that is so big.
Owning less stuff removes the clutter from your house. Less visual clutter equals less stress. Owning less stuff means you are buying less stuff which means you aren’t spending money on that stuff (and can spend it on experiences or other more important things to you) and you aren’t spending time buying that stuff (freeing you up to spend time on things and with people that are more important to you). By going through your house and getting rid of duplicates, things you don’t need and things you don’t absolutely love, you leave room in your home to fill it with the things that mean the most to you. I love the quote ‘The Best Things in Life Aren’t Things’. Our minimalist journey has led us to understand that this quote shows that there is so much more to life then owning stuff and when you own less of stuff, you have more time to spend with other people, develop relationships and enjoy experiences.
Having less commitments means having the time and energy to put into the activities that are most important to you. It’s okay to say No to others and your family. Just think what it would be like if you only did things that you were super passionate about and didn’t feel like you were doing them out of obligation. You could focus on those tasks, volunteer opportunities and activities with a new sense of vigor and energy.
We are just beginning on this journey and have loved the benefits we have seen over the past few years. We have more time to do the things we want to do, spend time with the people we love and money to do the things that matter most to us like traveling, giving to others and saving for our future. The best part of minimalism is that you get to define the terms and to decide what is important to you and what is not. But we do ask that you are completely honest with yourself when making that assessment. Oftentimes you’ll realize that your big house, expensive cars, and lots of stuff aren’t worth the price of having a job you may not like that has you working many hours that take you away from your friends, family and the hobbies that you cherish.
And remember Minimalism is not a contest to see who can own the least so don’t try and compare yourself and think someone is doing ‘minimalism’ better than you. It’s also something that can change as your priorities in life change and you must reevaluate yourself occasionally on whether this pursuit is worth your time and these items are worth your money. It’s perfectly fine if one year you consider something necessary and the next year it becomes unnecessary. Developing a minimalism lifestyle is a crockpot, not a microwave. We hope you’ll start to simplify your life in 2016 and remove things that are unneeded so you have room for what you truly treasure in your life. Best of luck in this journey! Please tell us how it’s going.
P.S. We follow a number of minimalist bloggers who are much better writers than us and have been doing this much longer. The minimalist community is very supportive and we find great information and inspiration from them. We think you’ll really enjoy the following:
Becoming Minimalist – http://www.becomingminimalist.com/. Author: Joshua Becker. This blogs inspires others to live more by owning less.
Be More With Less- http://bemorewithless.com/, Author: Courtney Carver. This blog focuses on simplifying your life and really living.
The Minimalists – http://www.theminimalists.com/, Authors: Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus. This blog focuses on living a meaningful life with less stuff.
Mr. Money Mustache – http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/, Author: Mr. Money Mustache (that’s what he goes by). A forty-something financially-independent retired couple who live frugally, efficiently and happily. Disclaimer: This is a more edgy blog with foul language.