How to be a Minimalist – The Essentials

We love our stuff. In this time more than ever, people are forming closer attachments to possessions than we are to other people! Our stuff holds memories, information, and value. But did you know our stuff also holds energy that, in turn, affects our energy.

The state of your surroundings can dictate your mood, impact your ability to think clearly and stay focused, and even affect your diet and sleep habits! We tend to amass items in our homes unconsciously, without giving thought to how much they actually contribute to or subtract from our wellbeing. 

How to be a minimalist

Living a minimalist lifestyle (yes, it is an entire lifestyle) makes you keenly aware of what you decide to bring into your life and how it affects you. This can apply to things, people, and experiences. There are so many reasons people turn to minimalism: 

  • more money to travel
  • aesthetic choice
  • financial gain
  • having children
  • time management
  • relocating often
  • overwhelming mental turbulence
  • the challenge
  • an appetite for change

Being a minimalist is all about maximizing space in your life. Not just physically, but giving yourself more room to mentally and emotionally thrive. Abiding by minimalist ideals makes it easier—and eventually, impulsive—to make accurate decisions about what is best for your peace, comfort, and productivity. It’s about seeing through the trends, advertisements, and temptations to the true practicality and potential of whatever it is you’re faced with. 

Minimalist life is more than just decluttering your home. Some people choose to downsize their living arrangements to cut their living expenses, while others choose to ditch their electronics. However, there’s no rule book that says, “Because you do or have this, you can’t possibly be a minimalist!”. Your definition of minimalism will differ from someone else’s. So what does the term “minimalism”actually entail?

What is minimalism? What does it mean to be a minimalist?

Minimalism is the art of less. The goal is to minimize your living down to just the bare essentials. That doesn’t necessarily mean to get rid of all of your appliances and live off the land—unless you want to. Some literally define living a minimalist lifestyle by how many possessions you have. The most common standard is to own less than 100 possessions. This is doable but not the main objective here. The focus is sticking to the basics and keeping things simple. 

What’s considered “essential” will vary depending on your occupation, relationship status, whether or not you have kids, your hobbies, cultural and religious practices—an endless list of variables. That’s why there’s no right or wrong way to do it. There’s no one-style-fits-all minimalism method that is feasible for everyone.

As long as you dive in with the intention of ridding yourself of all the distractions and unnecessary things floating around in your life, you’re on the right path! Employ these minimalistic principles only up to the point where you can continue to lead a prosperous and efficient life (that’s what it’s all about!).

Why become a minimalist?

Committing to the essentials and releasing the conveniences is a lot more cathartic than it sounds. It saves so much time and energy to have less to clean up and be responsible for. It definitely makes trips to the store quicker and less costly by cutting your shopping list in half! This frees up more hours in the day to work, spend with children, or meditate. 

Minimalist life also makes you cherish the things that you do have a lot more. When each thing in your life has a worthy function and purpose, you’re grateful for every single one. Again, this applies to people, things, and experiences.

Accumulating less things protects your mental and emotional health by ridding you of blockages and allowing thoughts and ideas room to flourish. We can’t argue with the fact that it cuts down on day-to-day drama and hassle as well!

The journey to minimalism usually begins in a small or first apartment. But it’s never too late to start! Here, I’m going to help you determine what it means to be a minimalist to you and leave you with a better idea of what minimalism really is by going through just what it means to live with less.

Less Things

This is the most obvious one: what people are usually referring to when they talk about minimalism. It’s also the best place to start for anyone easing their way into minimalism. There are plenty of good reasons to reduce how much you own and use.

You can contribute to somebody else’s happiness by donating your items. You can make a good chunk of extra money by selling them. Not to mention how seldom you’ll have to spend money on cleaning supplies with less to clean. Cutting down how much you use also benefits the environment.

With less to sort through, it’ll be much easier to find or remember where you put your things. This decreases the amount of stress you experience on a regular basis. Having a lot going on around you causes stress on its own by suffocating movement, energy flow, and thoughts. Having less allows you to feel, accomplish, and create more!

Distractions are a great enough reason to cut down on your things. We’ve become desensitized to just how many distractions we encounter every day in our own home. Having an excess of appliances and food products strewn around your kitchen encourages overeating and a poor diet.

Having three different game consoles throughout the house can easily take your attention off important tasks. More things also inevitably means more frequent messes—especially if you have kids—which are a chore and a distraction. 

Less People

This doesn’t mean you should shutter yourself away in your house in the name of minimalism! Remember the goal: we’re distancing ourselves from things that are not necessary for a healthy and productive living. In turn, that means if those things, or people, are not conducive to a healthy and productive living, then it’s probably best to distance yourself from them.

Let’s have a hard conversation. You are the company you keep. What makes that truer is the exchange of energy that occurs when you interact with another person. You want to make sure that you’re only allowing people around you regularly that make you feel confident, happy, safe, and supported through their actions and behaviors.

It’s best to stay away from anyone (yes, family included) who makes you feel afraid, small, insecure, worried, or unappreciated. Poor and toxic relationships drain your energy and eat away at your mental health. 

Detaching yourself from certain people isn’t easy to do by any means. However, it’s imperative to just be honest with yourself, be aware of who’s around you, and be open to making room for genuine, loving relationships to come into your life. And let’s be honest: the less people around you, the less distractions and more time you’ll have as well!

Less Experiences

It’s hard to turn down that Las Vegas getaway or that trip to see that new movie. But this is another one of those things where you have to look past how fun it sounds and analyze the reality of whether it’s something you need to engage in.

Some things are just not a good idea, and we know that, but for some reason or other we proceed to do it anyway. Hitting the brakes and examining the situation before you step out the door could save you so much time, money, and unnecessary stress.

Some things to consider: Do I like the destination? Am I happy and comfortable with who all else is going? Do I already have everything I need/will I have to purchase things for the trip/event? (Be careful; this is an easy way for random items to make their way back into your home). Do I have the time and funds to spare for this trip/event? Most importantly: Am I going because I want to? There’s no shame in it just not being for you right at that moment so don’t allow yourself to feel pressured or guilted into going along.

This also includes activities. Be cautious of how much you put on your plate. It’s no secret that taking on too many extracurriculars can put a ton of strain on your schedule and your mind. Go through your plans, before or after you make them, and ask yourself why you’re doing each thing.

If you’re really overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to shave some time off of voluntary activities such as the gym or daily chores. Free up your planner and replace it with some much needed self care time. You deserve it!

Final Notes

There are tons of different ways, big and small, that you can choose to practice minimalism in your own life. Minimalism can be applied to all facets of life, so it’s okay if you’re not ready to commit to a complete minimalist lifestyle makeover!

But there are different types of minimalism. Some practice a minimalistic diet. What exactly constitutes a minimalist diet is up to interpretation. Think of ways you can “minimize” your eating and grocery shopping habits, then test out some methods that are comfortable for your lifestyle.

Some examples are having a conservative grocery budget; preparing meals consisting of only basic, core foods and a few simple ingredients; eating smaller portions; or practicing intermittent fasting.

Minimalist parenting is also a thing! Being a parent in the 21st century has become so expensive. That’s because raising children has become a competition rather than a community effort. Judgment comes down heavily on parents who don’t have the latest this, safest that, 10 baby gadgets, a world-renowned daycare facility, parenting and birthing classes, an organic meal plan for your kids, extracurriculars, and the most stimulating toys and entertainment.

If that sounds like a lot, imagine how much it costs, let alone how much overwhelm and confusion it causes! Minimalist parenting is a great way to shut out all the noise and attend to what’s important—your child—with confidence and love. And you can actually do that more efficiently by parenting (or “hovering”) less!

Some people practice minimalism as it relates to electronics. Cleaning out your email (emptying the trash, unsubscribing to email lists), and clearing your smartphone of unutilized/unproductive apps and unwanted photos and messages is a wonderful way to start. Purging your house of electronics almost entirely is a huge step towards a more meaningful and positive life.

Wrap Up

It sounds crazier than it actually is. Minimizing the number of outside sources that have an effect on you maximizes your radiance and frees you from a world full of influences. Minimalism is just that—a celebration of freedom!

The freedom that comes with allowing yourself to let go of things that don’t serve you well and making room for greater things to take its place. The freedom to dictate your own life in a world that constantly demands and glorifies more.

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