As more and more people look for alternatives to materialism and infinite consumption driven by our socioeconomic system, they also search for a philosophy that anchors them to their value-systems.
Today, minimalism and simplicity are the most commonly used terms describing counterculture approaches to our modern, consumerist lifestyles.
Are they the same thing? On the surface it would seem they are. Both embrace a desire to reduce and live with intention. There are varying degrees of minimalism, however. And there are differences between the two movements.
If you feel like your life is too hectic or lacks meaning, minimalist ideas might help you create a life that’s more centered and enjoyable.
Simplifying your life is a matter of reduction. It has to do with being more intentional, stress-free, and deliberate about what’s truly necessary in your life. But, minimalism goes further. It also includes elimination. You’re literally removing things from your life. Not just material clutter...but outdated belief systems, unrealistic expectations, corrosive relationships, and more.
From personal experience, I can say that after years of practicing minimalism, there’s been almost no space, be it financial, spiritual, social, career, or otherwise that hasn’t gone through some deconstruction as a result of minimalism.
Here are some signs that minimalism might be a viable idea to enhance your life:
1. You have items in your way that you rarely use. Unnecessary clutter has a negative impact on your life. It weighs you down emotionally and wastes your time. And if you’re like millions of other American’s, you might be spending lot’s of extra cash to store all that stuff! Whether you want to simplify or you’re ready to embrace minimalism, decluttering is the best place to start.
My advice: Box up those unneeded items and then sell, donate, or toss them. And as you do, be mindful of the energy that letting go creates within you. You’ll feel lighter, happier, and more energetic.
2. You have excessive debt. The only material goods that are necessary are food, clothing, and shelter. While there’s no reason to get too carried away at the beginning with limiting yourself to the bare essentials, if debt is making your life miserable, you’re likely purchasing too much.
Prior to any purchase, ask yourself if it’s something you truly need or if it’s just a want. Purchasing is an emotional process, not a logical one. And consumerism is a habit not easily broken. If you’re buying something because you think it will make you happy, upgrade your status, or get you recognition, chances are IT WON’T.
Minimalism isn’t so much about deprivation as it is about stewardship and ecology. If you’re going to buy something make sure it’s for the RIGHT reasons, not the emotional elation.
3. You’re upset that you don’t own a nicer car, house, or other items. If you have a car that breaks down all the time, of course you’d like a more reliable car. It’s okay to purchase when a purchase is necessary. But if you already own a decent, reliable car, it’s different.
Is obsessing about owning a $100,000 car really conducive to a happy life? Certainly you can find more meaningful things to occupy your thoughts. And better ways to manage your finances.
The same goes with a house. According to ProperteyShark, today the average individual living in a newly built home enjoys 211% more living space than in 1910. At the same time, the average household is now 2.58 people compared to 4.54 in 1910. More space means more energy use, more resources to build and occupy, more time to manage, and more money for upkeep, and a much bigger carbon footprint.
4. You’re busy, but your life lacks meaning. We’ve all had days filled with activity, which ended with feelings of emptiness. Minimalism can help remove the excess from your life to make room for more meaningful activities.
Minimalism helps you strip down the non-essentials in life and helps you align yourself with your core values. When you honor your values, you’re happier, filled with more purpose, and you flourish. You’re making intentional choices to do something because it brings meaning and joy rather than going along with whatever sounds good to escape the void created by consumerism.
Luckily, there are many strategies that can help you embrace a life of minimalism. You just need to know how to get started.
How to introduce minimalism into your life:
1. Get clutter off the floor. Not only will your home and office look cleaner, but you’ll be surprised at how much better you feel! Put it on a shelf, in the closet, or get rid of it altogether.
2. Now hit the countertops, tables, and shelves. Go through all those items and ask yourself if you’ve used them in the last six months. Do you truly need them? Clear off those spaces as much as possible.
3. Go through your clothes. Most people wear 20% of their clothes 80% of the time, while the other 80% of your clothes are just taking up space.
If you don’t wear it, or it hasn’t fit in over a year, let it go.
4. Make a list of all the optional activities in your life. Include all the organizations, clubs, team sports, happy hours, and so on. Eliminate one. In a couple of weeks, eliminate another. Now fill some of that free time with activities you really love. You can free up a lot of time by learning how to say “no.”
5. Repeat this process on a regular basis. Just a couple of cycles of minimizing will dramatically reduce the complexity of your life.
You don’t have to live out of a duffel bag in the back of your care to use minimalism to your advantage. It’s simply a matter of removing excess and meaningless things from your life. Use some of the extra time and space to introduce new, amazing things into your life. You’ll be glad you did! What’s most important is to keep it simple, meaningful, and aligned with your core values.
If you’re ready to make some big changes and you’re not sure where to begin, the first step is to discover and align yourself with your core values. Minimalism may not be for you, but there are many other choices that are. And when you know what choices to make, you’ll start to transform your life.
Take the next step and reach out. I’ll be glad to spend some time discussing how working together will get you where you most want to be. It’s time to flourish! Let’s get started.