There are many questions that could start the story of minimalism. For instance, do you spend too much money? Are you always broke? Are you struggling to save up for rainy days? Does your home resemble the set of “Hoarders”? Do you own stuff you hardly ever use? Do you feel an irresistible urge to shop? Chances are, if you allow yourself to be completely honest, the answer to at least one of these will be “Yes”. Well, people are getting tired of the shackles of ownership. And minimalism is their way of fighting back. It’s a rebellion, and like any good rebellion, the goal is freedom.
What is this minimalism business about?
Simply put, minimalism is all about owning only the things you really need. It’s about taking a good hard look at your life, and asking yourself: “Am I trying to buy my way to happiness?”
It’s no wonder we want stuff so much. Our desire to own comes from a powerful combo. It is in our nature that we crave security. The desire to own comes from way, way back, when our ancestors had no security whatsoever. In today’s world, the marketing machinery has found a way to exploit that need. The result? We are drowning in stuff, buying and consuming in the hopes that it will make us feel whole. In reality, this only leads to a disconnect from our true nature.
Do I have to sacrifice everything?
Minimalism is all about removing the metaphorical noise from your life, in search of clarity. That does not mean you have to throw everything away. Rather, start out by going through the things you own. It’s much more likely that the minimalist lifestyle will stick if you come to it gradually. Many go cold turkey, and throw out almost everything they own. That usually ends in a shopping spree or five, as soon as they tire of this new fad. In fact, minimalism is much more about a slow and gentle realization that the things we own don’t define us.
How do I start?
There is no single correct way to embrace minimalism. Everyone’s journey is a little different. If you are a complete newbie, here are some tried and true strategies that will help you test out and ease into this new lifestyle.
Strategy no. 1: Declutter your home
Even if you only do this one step, at least your home will be more organized. Decluttering can be exhausting – physically, emotionally, and mentally. Especially if you do it the right way. Don’t just go through your home like a tornado, throwing away everything in your path. Take the time to assess every object, and determine whether you need and use it. Obviously, the project of this size takes time and energy. Don’t try to squeeze it all into one afternoon. Ease into it, and do it in chunks. Remember that you can probably donate everything you decide to part with. Helping others while also helping yourself is an incredible feeling.
Strategy no. 2: Curb your inner shopper
Every time you succumb to marketing and feel the urge to buy something, stop to think for a second. Ask yourself if you really need it. The method that works for a lot of people is to veto the purchase for at least 24 hours, then reassess. Do you still want it with the same burning desire? Chances are, the answer is “No”. Every next time will get a little easier, until you finally start buying only the things you truly need, without even thinking about it.
Strategy no. 3: Experiment
Minimalism doesn’t have to be radical. It’s perfectly okay to keep things that make you truly happy, or bring a measurable value to your life. The trouble is, it’s hard to know what these things are. Try giving stuff up for a few days, or weeks – for instance your car, your manicure appointments or your expensive coffee habit. After the initial period of adaptation, is it easy or hard to live without it? Keep the things you really miss, dump the ones you don’t.
Strategy no. 4: Create a capsule wardrobe
Going minimalist certainly doesn’t mean you should look like a hot mess. A capsule wardrobe will not only save you money in the long run, but also allow you to always look effortlessly stylish. A capsule wardrobe is a carefully curated collection of clothes that can be combined to create different outfits. The idea is that, whatever you throw on, it will look great together. It also prevents impulse purchases, like those orange shoes you fell in love with, only to discover they don’t go with anything you own.
No one can tell you how to become a minimalist, or even whether you should try at all. It is a journey that doesn’t happen overnight. You will need time to discover the perfect balance that works for you. But one thing is for sure – owning less is a life-changing decision. The commitment to own less can often become a catalyst for many important life changes. Those who embrace minimalism normally find themselves feeling freer and healthier. They discover an increase in time and money, and a drop in stress. And, most importantly, they feel happy not to own, but just to be.
If you liked our take on minimalism, feel free to spread the word!