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Minimalism: What It Is And Why You Should Consider It

Updated on July 11, 2018

What is Minimalism?

Many people confuse minimalism with the idea of being a hermit - which is perfectly fine if you're into that kind of thing. But truthfully, being a minimalist means living honestly with the intention of having only the essentials. It does not mean throwing away everything you own, only the stuff that doesn't bring value to your life.

When you think of minimalism, you may envision a blank, white wall with a clothing rack against it, holding only three shirts, two pairs of jeans, and a jacket, with a single pair of shoes beneath it. To some, that is a reality, but it isn't the only way to be a minimalist. Whether you purge your closet right away or get rid of a few pieces here and there, you can improve your life and be able to call yourself a person living with less.

Beyond material possessions, Minimalism extends into ideas and beliefs, and the way we choose to perceive life. Be it selecting a career path that is right for you, enrolling in post-secondary, or determining what it is you want out of life. Living with intent can smooth the edges in your existence and send you off to truly enjoy the big, wide world.

To be quite frank, it is scary, but I can assure you it will be one of the greatest decisions you could ever make. With some determination and dedication, you too can become a minimalist.

Why is Minimalism Important?

Minimalism can appeal to anyone as long as the many different approaches are shown, including the benefits that come with it. Imagine being in your late twenties with a house, a car, and a dog. In each room you have plenty of things: televisions, coffee tables, side tables, couches, chairs, cabinets, carpets, wall hangings, dvds,etc. You have a decent salary with more than enough money to keep you living comfortably. Now imagine having all of those things, yet there is still this empty void within you that hasn't been filled. It hurts, however, you don't know how to make it go away. Therefore, you buy more things with the hopes of finding happiness within the cheap plastic, or the glorified brands name, but the feeling doesn't go away. You are ultimately unsatisfied, and now you have a house full of useless things. You feel buried alive under your impulsive purchases. You are now trapped with the burden of housing, storing, and handling every item that you can't run away from.

Now, picture tossing almost everything away. You keep an item here, an item there, but only the things you know will be used for certain. Suddenly, you have a nearly empty house decorated with only the essentials. You feel calm, and relieved of the threatening stress. You are now able to live as freely as you wish, no longer tied down by your possessions. Giving up unnecessary things can give you a sort of spiritual calmness that nothing else can.

This process will not only benefit the space you have, but may help your mental health and your attitude towards life. By having only a few things that matter, you can eliminate the fear of suddenly loosing everything in some traumatic event, since you hardly have anything to begin with. That strong feeling of attachment we sometimes feel won't be so prominent, and you'll be able to move on much easier. You'll begin to see that these material things aren't as important as you've been taught to believe, and they are more like tools than necessities.

Also, you will be able to decrease your ecological footprint, and will be on your way to minimizing it even further. It has been shown that many families with large homes use only select areas, and don't go into some rooms at all, leaving so much unnecessary space. By living in smaller places where all rooms are used, we could all cut back and create space for more homes or for parks and green areas. When we cut back, we all benefit.

How Can I Incorporate Minimalism Into My Life?

The most subtle changes can count as steps towards becoming minimal, no matter what stage you wish to approach. Perhaps you have a large makeup collection that you can't help but add to, yet its intimidating presence stresses you out when you're getting ready. It may be difficult at first, but begin by sorting through what you have and decide what you use and what you don't. Make a whole event out of it: play some music, get some comfortable clothes on, light a candle or two and really focus on what your goal is. Once the pile has thinned a bit, go back through it again and ask yourself whether you have used each item in the last month or not. If that pesky thought of "oh, but I'm sure I'll use it sometime," comes along, be very strict with yourself. If you are doubtful, throw it away altogether, be it charity or the trash depending on its state. Once you are content with your new and (hopefully) smaller pile, put it all away in an organized fashion and get rid of any remainders that don't seem to fit in if possible. Once you are done, you will feel lighter and able to tackle even more projects, no matter how daunting they may be. Believe in your ability to let go, and you will find unbelievable success.

Say you don't have a lot of things, but you feel overwhelmed by life in some way, be it making plans for the future or deciding how to spend your days. Think about what is important to you. Say for example, you love writing and you also enjoy playing the piano. You have a brilliant idea for a story, but you've also been making progress on that new song you started learning. Even small things like this can feel detrimental, but it is up to you to decide which activity will benefit you more. By focusing on one thing at a time, you will see better results and find yourself being happier in what it is you are doing. If you decide that the story requires your attention more, then sit down and give it your all for some time, without thinking about the piano. Then, when it suits you, play your heart out on your piano, but don't stress over getting both things done at the same time. It is the easiest way to crash and burn.

Sometimes your pending decisions have more at stake. Maybe you are looking at college programs and don't know which one is right for you. First, think of where you want to be career wise and round up a few options, find some courses, do your research, compare them, and consider what one fits your criteria the best. Some people throw themselves into a course with the mindset that they will grow into it, but more times than not, those people hate the school and the program because it simply isn't right for them. By designing your future around your needs, you will find yourself much happier and in a more positive mindset. You will feel content in your decision and likely won't require rooms full of useless things to make you happy.

No matter how big or how small your first steps are in the minimal direction, progress is still progress. Just because you want to be a minimalist, it doesn't mean you can't have things that make you happy. If you love books, then keep the books you love and appreciate them whenever you can - that is perfectly okay! Wherever you feel oppressed or locked down, free yourself by removing those things from your life. Ultimately, your happiness is the most important thing.

Taking it Further:

It is my hope that you are now convinced to become more of a minimalist in some aspect, big or small. I learned about Minimalism and its perks by watching Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things, by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, two passionate minimalists who live with the intent of spreading the minimalist word. They are very raw and real when it comes to the lifestyle, and they don't hesitate to feature many of the unfortunate ways our society advertises how we should live our lives.

If you are interested as well, they have a very insightful podcast called The Minimalists, which I love to listen to whenever I get the chance. And finally, you can purchase their memoir and essay collections on Amazon as well!

As The Minimalists often say: "Love people. Use things. The opposite never works."

© 2018 Karleigh Rose

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    • Beth Deyo profile image

      Beth Deyo 

      8 months ago from Bradenton, FL

      I'm new to the concept of minimalism and honesty finding it a struggle. Thanks for this article, it was very helpful.

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