A couple of years ago, I discovered the concept of minimalism. Various people online claimed that it had improved their life so I decided to learn more about it. At first, I remember finding it quite confusing. It’s principles were so contrary to the way society had previously taught me what it meant to be happy.
How could having less make me more happy?
I realised that I had nothing to lose by trying it out and so I applied the principles to my life. I wanted to to see if minimalism could indeed make my life any better. Short answer: It did and I have never looked back since.
Minimalism was a breath of fresh air and I now apply it to many parts of my life.
But what exactly is minimalism?
What is Minimalism?
Minimalism can mean many different things to different people. Ask 100 people what it is and you’ll likely get 100 different answers.
At its core however, minimalism can mainly be described as a tool, or mindset, that can assist you in finding out what’s really important in your life and eliminating the rest. It helps you to prioritise what’s most valuable to you.
Minimalism has grown massively in popularity over the past few years. Websites such as The Minimalists and Becoming Minimalist, as well as the Netflix documentary ‘Minimalism’, have helped to catapult it’s message far and wide.
However, while minimalism is now much more understood by the general public, it still remains somewhat of an unorthodox lifestyle. As such, there is still a lot of misconceptions about what minimalism really is and what it means to be a minimalist.
What Minimalism is Not
One common misconception about minimalism is that you have to give up everything you like. Thankfully, that’s just not true. Minimalism is not about giving up stuff. It can be, if that’s what makes your life more meaningful, but it doesn’t have to be.
Minimalism is all about what you decide is valuable in your life.
How I Apply Minimalism In My Life
Applying minimalism to my life has helped me in many ways. It has not only helped me to determine what’s most important in my life, but it has also helped me to save money.
Here are 7 ways I incorporate minimalism into my life:
1. I question every purchase I make to see if it’s something I really need.
If I can’t come up with a few really good reasons why I need something, I don’t buy it. If it’s a bigger purchase, I usually take a few days to think about it. This prevents me from buying things impulsively. If I decide that I still need the item in a few days, then I go ahead and buy it. The difference is that I feel much better knowing that I’ve made a more conscious decision to allow that item into my life.
Tip: Figuring out how many hours you have to work to afford an item can help you decide whether it is worth it or not. If I know that I have to work 12 hours to afford a pair of sunglasses, I might think twice about buying them.
2. I don’t keep up with fashion styles.
Fashion goes round in circles. Some years, one style is fashionable, a few years later it isn’t. It’s not only exhausting keeping up with the latest fashion trends but it’s also expensive. I try to pick clothes that are timeless and neutral as these often remain immune to becoming outdated. This also helps me to pick clothes out to wear for the day. There’s less choice involved which means less time spent making a decision.
3. I don’t feel the need to “keep up with the Joneses”.
I studied Psychology at university and I was particularly interested in social psychology. I was fascinated by how society and social norms can affect an individual’s behaviour. In a world where everybody is online, the pressure to keep up can be overwhelming. You’re no longer trying to keep up with the Joneses next door, you’re trying to keep up with the whole world. This can be a recipe for extreme unhappiness and dissatisfaction. By not comparing myself to other people, I avoid the unpleasant feelings that go with thinking I need what others have.
4. I don’t upgrade or replace things if they still work.
Until just recently, I owned a Samsung Galaxy S5. It was pretty old and slow but it still worked. It was tempting to go out and buy one of the latest models but It wasn’t something I really needed – it was something I wanted. I realised this and kept the phone for as long as possible. My point here is, don’t feel like you have to upgrade things if there is nothing wrong with them. If something works fine, stick with it for as long as you can.
5. I don’t automatically buy things that everybody else is buying.
Unfortunately, my trusty Samsung eventually died and I was forced to get a new phone. However, instead of going for one of the latest iPhones or Samsungs (which can cost £1000 or more), I opted for a cheaper Motorola. It was a quarter of the price and does everything I need it to. When you have to replace items, look for cheaper options, don’t just go with what everybody else is getting.
6. I don’t place heavy importance on material possessions.
One thing I found with material possessions is that it doesn’t take long for the novelty to wear off. A new phone is intensely pleasurable to own when you first acquire it. However, soon enough, it just becomes another thing that you own. Sometimes it may even become a source of dissatisfaction if a new model is released that has features yours doesn’t. By adopting a more minimalistic approach, I avoid going through those emotions and see material possessions for what they really are – tools that simply serve a purpose.
7. I keep my meals simple.
Deciding what to eat and preparing meals can be time consuming. It can also be expensive if you’re buying many different ingredients that might go bad before you have a chance to use them up. To make it easier and cheaper, I identified about 7 meals I really enjoy that I can make consistently. I might mix it up a little (e.g. swapping out rice for couscous) but generally, I keep it simple. Initially, I thought I’d get tired of the same meals, but I really don’t.
These are just some of the things I do to live a more intentional life and focus more on the things that bring me the most joy.
How Minimalism Can Help You
Minimalism has benefited my life tremendously, not only psychologically but also financially:
Here are 12 ways that minimalism can benefit you too:
1. Helps you to prioritise getting out of debt and removing the burden that comes with it
2. Helps you to sell the stuff you don’t need so that you can make some money back and either pay off debts or save for the future
3. Makes it easier to budget for things once you have decided what is and isn’t important to you
4. Helps you avoid purchasing unnecessary stuff that doesn’t add any value to your life and just ends up taking up space
5. Helps to simplify your finances so that you can stay on top of them
6. Reduces stress levels; less clutter in the mind means less you can potentially worry about
7. Helps you feel more in control and less like you are just conforming to what society wants, even if it isn’t in your own best interest
8. Improves your perspective on life and helps you to prioritise the important things e.g. spending more quality time with family
9. Improves your mental clarity and helps you to lead to a more happy and fulfilled life
10. Makes you more aware of your decision making process. This helps you to avoid bad habits and impulsive behaviour as well as build good habits
11. Allows you to free up more time which helps you become more productive in doing the things that you are passionate about
12. Good for the environment; purchasing less unnecessary stuff helps you reduce the amount you end up throwing away
Minimalism to me is quite simply discovering what is most important in your life and finding ways to reduce or eliminate those things that aren’t important.
Minimalism has been incredibly helpful to me because it has allowed me to prioritise what I enjoy the most in life.
Minimalism isn’t about getting rid of things that you don’t want to.
I believe Minimalism has something to offer everybody. By applying it’s principles, you too can improve multiple areas of your life – and save yourself some money in the process.