The idea of living a minimalist lifestyle is something that has been attracting a lot of attention in the mainstream media recently. It is seen as being countercultural, yet at the same time, it is a fashionable thing to do.
Minimalist living encourages individuals to buy fewer materialistic possessions and to take better care of the things they already have. It is also about enjoying experiences and being in the moment instead of collecting mementos that will simply gather dust.
There are many benefits to minimalist living—some immediate and some longer term—but all make it worthwhile. Some of the benefits of living a minimalist lifestyle are highlighted below.
Wages have stalled and expenses for living keep going up. Why spend money that you don’t have to? Save that money and you’ll enjoy financial freedom and a better life.
Living surrounded by clutter is stressful and can put you in a worse mood. Cleaning a large number of possessions and a big house is a big task and takes away from the time you could spend enjoying the things that you own or even outside away from all of those things.
Choice paralysis is a real thing. When you have a lot of options to choose from, you sometimes spend more time thinking about the decisions you didn’t make, so instead of enjoying what you do, you worry that you did the wrong thing.
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People who have too many choices take longer to make decisions and often make worse decisions.1 By owning less materialistic possessions, you’re going to come home looking forward to playing that one video game, rather than thinking about all of the possible video games you could be playing or other activities you could be doing.
If you’d like an additional productivity boost as you try to implement a minimalist lifestyle into your everyday life, try FOCUS.
Set a Good Example
Many adults collect stuff because they grew up in a culture of collecting stuff. For them, owning things is important or is a way of feeling special. Those who are less well off sometimes develop a sense of shame around money.2 You can break that cycle for your kids by putting less emphasis on “stuff” for yourself.
Even if you don’t have kids, the way you behave will be noticed by adult friends. The more people stop caring about materialistic possessions, the easier it will be for others to make the same decision.
Enjoy Little Luxuries
When you cut back on unnecessary spending, you’ll be able to spend money on things that you enjoy more. You can make some simple shifts here. For instance, stop spending $15 a week on takeout coffee, and buy a good coffee flask to take your own coffee to work with you. Put that money towards other things.
If you have lower bills, you can choose to do the work you love even if that means taking a pay cut. If you stop spending money on things and focus on experiences instead, you’ll be happier.3
Think about the fond memories you have. Some of them may involve “things,” but you were probably using those things with other people. You can have as much fun going somewhere with your friends as you can while watching a movie on a huge TV at home.
Shed Unhappy Memories
Next time you’re de-cluttering, be ruthless and get rid of everything that reminds you of your toxic aunt or your nasty ex. It’s easier to work towards a better future when you aren’t tied to the painful memories of the past that no longer serve you well.
Make Moving Easier
While some people do pick one place to live and stay there long-term, that isn’t compulsory. You might get the job of your dreams in another city or you may have to move to be closer to family and help them out. There are lots of reasons that you might consider moving, and it’s a lot easier, practically, to throw your life in a bag and move than it is to move a van full of stuff.
When you start de-cluttering your life, it makes you think about what you care about the most, allowing you to prioritize what really matters to you. You’ll learn a lot about yourself just through throwing things away, and you’ll get a chance to center what’s important in your life. If you’re working on something big—whether related to academics, a career, or just a hobby—you’ll find that decluttering puts that into the forefront of your mind and makes it easier to focus.
Minimalism isn’t for everyone, and it can be challenging to adopt it. If you aren’t ready to throw out almost everything you own just yet, then don’t worry, you don’t have to. Even easing into minimalism can offer improvements in your life.
Some “stuff” has sentimental value. Some purchases are worth making. However, when you let go of some of the the things that you don’t need, it can be more freeing than you can imagine.
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