By Chris Gill
What comes to mind when you hear the term 'minimalism'? Perhaps you imagine someone who has thrown away all their things and is living in a bare room with white walls and a lot of negative space. Or maybe you think of Joshua Becker, Marie Kondo or The Minimalists, who have gained fame by teaching people how to live a more simple life. Or, maybe you think of a specific art form or minimalist architecture.
Well, if you're a novice to the whole concept of living a minimalist approach to life, we're here to show you that it doesn't have to be as extreme as getting rid of all your worldly possessions and sitting on the floor practicing 'Zen'. We take a look at what minimalism actually is, and how to incorporate it into your everyday life by making small and manageable changes..
What is minimalism?
At its core, minimalism is the intentional pursuit of simplifying your life to focus on the things that really make you happy. This minimalist mindset might include reducing your possessions and staying away from consumerism, increasing self-sufficiency and focusing on being happy with what you already have.
Why might you choose to undertake a minimalist lifestyle? Well, there are many reasons. It could be to create a better work-life balance and increase quality time spent with your loved ones. It could be for financial freedom and to reduce your stress. It could literally be that you’ve had enough of living a consumerist lifestyle and want to live life the best way you possibly can.
Whatever the reason, minimalism is becoming more and more of a desirable way of living in our increasingly busy and technology-focused world. So whether you want to go all out and create a minimalist home and lifestyle or simply just dip your toes in the water of living with less, here’s where to get started.
How to live like a minimalist
Like anything, it can be off-putting knowing there’s a strict set of rules as to how to adopt a minimalist lifestyle. But don’t worry, this is a judgment-free zone. Wherever you are in your minimalist journey, we’re here to offer some simple tips on how to live a life that’s simpler. Feel free to incorporate none, some or all into your everyday life and see how it makes you feel.
Own fewer things
Before you turn away from your screen saying “but I like my things”, hear us out. We’re not saying to throw away all your possessions (in fact, we highly recommend not throwing away anything at all unless completely necessary). What we’re saying is to take a good look at what you own and figure out how much value it gives you.
For example, let's start with your wardrobe. Sure, you might find a time you'll wear that dress that was trending a couple of years ago, but you might not. Or what about those shoes you bought because they were on sale, but you never got round to wearing them? Or perhaps you wore them once and they nearly crippled you so have since remained at the base of your closet collecting dust. Find out more about developing a minimalist wardrobe or shop timeless essentials for him and her to avoid chasing trends.
The same applies to your kitchen. Do you actually use that juicer you bought years ago? If yes, great! We salute you. It brings you value, so you should keep it. If you don’t, perhaps it’s time to pass it on to someone who actually will use it.
See, that's the great thing when it comes to the removal of everything that distracts you from living your best life. You can find joy out of passing an important thing on to friends, donating them to charity, or even selling them to make back a bit of the money you spent.
Make simpler meals
Minimalist living is not just about getting rid of stuff or material things in your space. It's also about decluttering- or at least changing - old habits and adopting simpler, healthier ways of living. This includes your diet, which at times is something we tend to overcomplicate. We spend so much time trying to keep up with the latest food fads, diets and superfoods, that we forget that - just like with our wardrobes - less is always more.
Focus on creating veggie-heavy meals that are raw, or as close to raw as possible, with minimal seasoning. Of course, it’s fine to add flavor, but instead of going overboard with salt, try spicing up your dishes with turmeric, balsamic vinegar and healthy oils.
Try to cut out - or at least cut back on - sugar. There are so many beneficial reasons for doing this, but one of the best is that once you do, you'll start noticing the natural sweetness in other foods such as cashews, sweet potatoes and fruit.
Make more time for what really matters
Perhaps the most important aspect of living a minimalist lifestyle of all, it’s important to make more time for the things in life that matter most. And when we say ‘things’, we’re actually talking about your loved ones, your passions and your general wellbeing.
By owning fewer things, or more importantly desiring fewer things, you’ll be less attached to money, hopefully meaning you can create a better work-life balance. That doesn’t mean throwing in your nine to five – minimalists still need to eat and pay the bills! But perhaps you can instead focus on finding what it is you’re truly passionate about in life and turning that into a career.
This quote from Joshua Fields Millburn from The Minimalists sums this sentiment up perfectly: “Don’t try to make money – try instead to make something that adds so much value that people want to pay for it.”
Life is short and we only get one shot. Do you really want to look back and think you spent every minute working when you could have been spending it with your family and friends? After all, you can always make more money – you can’t make more time.
So what do you think? Are you tempted to give the minimalist lifestyle a go? Do you fancy incorporating a few of its principles into your daily life or are you willing to go all out minimalist? Perhaps you’re already living a minimalist life and are reaping the rewards? Either way, we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Let's finish off with another of our favorite quotes from The Minimalists which sums up the minimalist movement perfectly:
“Love people, use things. The opposite never works.”