What is a minimalist lifestyle?
There’s a simple answer and a complicated answer. The simple answer: it means having less stuff, doing less and generally ‘getting back to basics’.
The complicated answer?
It ultimately comes down to a change in your mindset. It comes down an understanding that you can get fulfilment and happi-ness by having less going on rather than more – and that living more simply is not only better for your mental health but also better for your finances, your family, your health and the envi-ronment!
Don’t believe me? Get too much enjoyment out of those new suits and fancy gadgets? Then read on and we’ll discover why less really is more.
Newsflash: You Have Been Duped
Here’s the kicker: you have been duped.
It’s not just you. It’s all of us. We are all being manipulated by our politics and by big companies that want to get more money from us. This is what keeps the economy ticking over and what keeps certain people wealthy and it all comes down to our strange desire to have more.
The other day I bought a computer game on Steam. That’s a program that allows you to download and store games on your PC.
That game cost me $50. And here’s the thing: I haven’t played it yet. And nor do I intend to play it until I finish the last game that I bought.
And I actually have several more games on my computer that I have yet to finish or even play!
That game would still have been there had I waited. It probably would even have been cheaper. So why did I buy it?
Marketing. And the strange feeling we all get sometimes that we would be happier if only we had more stuff.
I’m sharing this story with you because you’re probably the same. You’ve probably spent loads on things you didn’t really need and those things are probably taking up space in your home right now.
The problem comes from advertising, from jealousy and from magazines showing off very glossy lifestyles. It’s human nature to want what other people have and to feel jealous when others seem to have more than we do. It even has a fancy psychologi-cal term: ‘social comparison theory’.
So we get the idea in our heads that we need this or that and that owning these things will bring us status and importance.
So we buy more things and we fill our house with more stuff but it doesn’t look good – just cluttered.
And now we have more expenses and more debt. So we need to work longer hours in order to afford the lifestyle that we have become accustomed to.
And in order to buy the next thing we think we want.
Meanwhile, we’re getting more credit cards than we can keep track of and huge amounts of stress at work.
At least we’re providing for our families, right? Sure: except they’d probably rather that you were at home and spending time with them!
At least you’re successful and doing well, right? Sure: if you base your success on how much responsibility you have in a company that sells toilet paper, or handles deliveries or does whatever other bland thing…
The point is that a lot of us work really hard to fill our lives with stuff… and we don’t even really know why!
The Alternative: Going Minimal
So let’s look at the alternative shall we?
That means recognizing what you actually want in life. What’s important to you? Is it spending time with friends and family?
Or is it making music?
Perhaps you love sports and you want to become a great ama-teur athlete.
Whatever it is, you should think of this as your passion and pur-pose and now you should build a lifestyle that will support you in that quest rather than just getting in the way.
You start this by looking at what you need to support the things you care about and what the easiest way to afford this is.
Because it’s important to remember that ‘wealth’ and ‘financial security’ do not come purely from your salary. Sure, that helps, but if you were to move to a smaller house in a less desirable area on your current salary, then you would still have more money left over at the end of the day and you would feel ‘richer’ as a result.
Would this actually impact on your quality of life? Probably not! You’d still have your family and friends to spend time with, you’d still have your passions and you could still make your house stunning!
In fact, it’s actually often easier to make a smaller home look in-credible because you have less space to worry about. It be-comes easier to keep tidy, easier to keep clean and easier to make a strong visual statement.
So suddenly, you can be saving yourself $300-$500 just by liv-ing somewhere smaller.
And that means you don’t really need to fight for that promotion that would involve tons of extra stress and tons of extra respon-sibility. Now you can come home and use more spare time – and more spare energy – to do those things that you love doing!
Now you can spend time with your family and now you can ac-tually appreciate the home you’re in.
And this is really the key word: appreciate.
Too many of us have become trained to feel like what we have is inadequate and to be upset that our neighbors or our friends have more. That’s why we work so hard and push ourselves, leaving beyond our means.
But if that’s your mindset, then you’ll never be happy. You won’t stop long enough to appreciate what you have – you’ll always be pushing for the next thing.
By adopting this more minimal lifestyle, you now have a smaller home, jam-packed with less stuff. You have fewer commitments and more money left-over.
And you’re going to extend that in other areas of your life too. You’re going to eat simpler meals, use simpler décor and intro-duce systems and processes to handle life’s stresses.
What you’re doing is creating space. Physical space and mental space. So that now, you can come home from a long day at work and relax in a home that is tidy, organized and clean. And you can not have to worry about all those bills. Or about things going on at work.
Instead, you can just appreciate how happy you are with what you have and where you are.
And what of fulfilment you ask? Where do you get your sense of accomplishment and success if you aren’t acquiring worldly goods, or trying to progress in your career?
Simple: by doing those things you love!
Why get your sense of accomplishment from your job when you could get it from making a beautiful painting? Learning another language? Travelling the world? Or just being the best parent you possibly can be.
Who really cares if you’re regional manager? Would you really rather throw away all those other things, just so you can im-press people with that widescreen TV?
It’s a big mindset change to make but once you make it, it opens up so many doors to new ways to live your life!
Creating a Minimal Home
To truly embrace a minimalist lifestyle means not only changing the way you think about your priorities but also actually taking action and living that minimalist ethos. And the simplest and easiest way to start doing that is with your décor and your be-longings.
And so to that end, we’re going to end this guide by looking at how you can start making some simple changes to live a more minimal life at home.
It starts with one bold move: removing 60% of the ornaments you have on display right now.
60% might seem like a huge amount and you might think that your home will look sparse once all that is gone. In reality though, it will almost always look much better for it!
That’s because removing clutter will mean that there is less vis-ual distraction from the things that you really care about in your home. By giving each item more space, it will look far more im-pressive and have much more of an impact than it did before.
At the same time, this has now increased the average value of each item on display.
Once you’ve gotten rid of over half of your items, what’s left will be only the cream of the crop. The result is that it will look much more stunning than it did before because on average the quality is higher!
Finally, by creating more space, you’ve made the room look bigger and lighter – and MUCH easier to clean! Now you can clean your surfaces with a simple wipe. Think about how many countless hours of cleaning you’ve saved yourself over the next few years with this one simple move.
Now you’re starting to see how you can actually have a much more impressive looking home by reducing the clutter. Your home actually looks wealthier even though there’s less in it!
And you can take this idea and run with it. When you come away from someone else’s home and you just feel amazed at their incredible décor, it will almost always be because of ONE standout item. That might be a smart fridge of some sort, or it might be an amazing water feature in their garden. Usually it will be something different and unique that stands out because it is original.
So what you can do, is to sell off the items that you’re no longer displaying and use those to buy something that is unique, beau-tiful and valuable. Now your home is starting to look like the kind of show home you might see in a magazine but actually it’s easier to maintain and costs less. This is the true power of min-imalism!
There are many more changes you’re going to make too though. One more is to remove boxes from under your bed and on your wardrobe. Most of us are guilty of this because we assume it won’t make much difference having storage ‘out of the way’ like this.
But actually, this has a big unconscious impact on the feel of a room. By removing that negative space, the room feels much more claustrophobic and much less tidy as a result. Just try it yourself – take the boxes out of the room for a bit and see what happens!
So what do you do with those boxes? Simple: you remove any-thing you’ve used in the last three months, anything valuable and anything sentimental. Then you just get rid of the rest.
This will not only make your home look more beautiful but you’ll even feel lighter. You’ll be able to travel and put your stuff in storage should you ever have to, you’ll be able to find the things you need quickly… it’s a small thing but it makes a MASSIVE difference.
The last thing I want you to do for now, is to create a ‘zen space’ for yourself. This will be one space in your home that you promise to never let get cluttered. To accomplish this, you are going to refrain from bringing food or plates into the room and you’re going to always tidy it when you leave.
One space that is clean and calm is something that everyone should have.
Once you’ve made these changes and started to think in a more minimalist way, you’ll find it’s possible to be happier with less – that space and time are more valuable than stuff and status.