I often wonder whether I am living a minimalist life or not.
My house is probably bigger than it should be, but there are a few other areas where I would say I am not a minimalist.
I don’t spend frivolously, I don’t eat out much, and I mostly make purchases based on my needs.
Also, I am quite good at decluttering. I don’t own a lot of stuff.
I am not following a strict minimalist living in the full sense but I strive to lead a simple life. This being said, I do think that there are probably dozens of other areas where I can cut back and save more.
I believe living a minimalist lifestyle is something that would benefit most people and the Earth.
Before we get to how you can get started, let’s talk a bit about the concept of minimalist living.
What is minimalist living?
They are many definitions of minimalist living but the one that resonated with me was, “Being content with what you have.”
Minimalist living is “intentional”. You live with the only things that you need. For me, this includes mostly the items that I know will support my purpose. The rest of them are just distractions and the excess possessions don’t matter. The key is to figure out what you know you will need rather than what you think you want.
Minimalism means having a simple lifestyle. The modern world is obsessed with setting a good life equal to possessing as much as possible. It’s extremely hard to detach yourself from, but it’s worth it 🙂
What are the advantages and disadvantages of minimalism?
Minimalism offers personal, as well as environmental benefits. These encompass everything from your health to lifestyle, fears, money, and more. In my view minimalism has the following advantages:
You save money
This one’s obvious! The minimalist life is all about saving money. Since you will be spending less, you will be saving more. This doesn’t mean that you have to start living an extremely true frugal life but simply find a balance.
Freedom from your possessive habits
Modern culture has taught us one bad habit – accumulating things that we don’t need. This need for possession buys us temporary happiness but then guilt follows quickly on its heels. This guilt is what minimalism vanquishes. This is where I learned the most important benefit that this lifestyle offers:
You start valuing your relationships
Getting off the road of consumerism can lead to a path of more happiness. Once you start letting go of your possessions, you can focus more on the value of your relationships, health, self and soul-care, and experiences.
You will reduce your carbon footprint
Once you stop buying things, you will reduce your carbon footprint. Living a more balanced life will not only be good for you, but it will also be good for Mother Earth.
Not having the latest and greatest
Your desire to buy things has to stop. Buying the latest and greatest, no matter what it is, has no place in a minimalist lifestyle. That new mobile phone that you have been eyeing for months is out of the question! This is one of the biggest disadvantages of living a minimalist life, but it’s easier to get used to than you would think.
Unfulfilled desires lead to resentment towards others
Making decisions where you are putting your needs above your wants is at the top of the list of living a minimalist life. However, this is quite difficult because sometimes, it feels like you are slowly killing your desires. This can lead to resentment as you might see your friends buying all the new things while you are living the frugal life.
Fewer “traditional experiences”
Traveling and living in a 5-star hotel on your vacation – or other “traditional experiences” – costs money. While it doesn’t necessarily mean owning stuff, it still does not fit into minimalist living. The focus should be on the things inside you and not the external clutter. Once you nail this, clever people say you will not miss it and you will value your friends more, but until then, it can be hard (I am still trying!).
How I got started with my minimalist lifestyle
I evaluated my needs
The first step to entering a minimalist life is to define your vision. I created a list of all my needs and wants that helped me understand where I was spending more.
I decluttered every area of my house
From the gourmet food items to the fancy snacks, luxurious bath items and plugged in gadgets, I critically looked at the use of everything. Referring back to my needs list, I slowly started rearranging the things to suit my new lifestyle.
I put those things away I couldn’t part with
I came across a dozen things that I wasn’t ready to part with so I found a solution for them – storage. I packed them in boxes and shifted them to my attic. If I don’t miss them, they will be thrown out next year.
I developed a technique to stay on the minimalist path
If I found myself searching for a product to buy, I would stop and think about what item at home would have to go for this item to come in. This “one in and one out” technique has stopped me from making unnecessary purchases (most of the time).
As you read, at the core of minimalist living is the strength to define your boundaries and then stick to them. I am still trying, but I’m becoming better and better.
Your turn: What things have you given up to lead a more minimalist lifestyle?