There’s more to minimalism than clearing away clutter and buying less stuff.
Unless you change your thinking, you’ll find it difficult to downsize, and you may miss out on the major advantages of simple living. Understanding why you overstuff your closets and your schedule will make changing your habits easier and more satisfying.
In order to travel the inner road to mastering minimalism, we need to talk about materialism.
What is materialism?
Materialism is a label that reflects our society’s insatiable need for money and possessions. Defined as ‘extreme preoccupation with material circumstances to the exclusion of other values,’ it has one driving force: profit.
The impact of materialism touches everyone on a global scale. People will do anything to acquire more than they need so that the status quo stays the same or improves. Tax cuts for the rich, economic booms and busts, exploitation of our planet’s natural resources – all are driven by it.
Materialism has a sneaky way of creeping into our lives without us even noticing. We want to own more things, but we don’t have the money for it so we find a way to get it – by any means necessary. We want to be more productive, better prepared and richer than the next person so we can move up in society – but have you ever thought that all this may just be a trap?
We are being so easily manipulated in our society that we don’t even realize when the materialism virus has started to spread inside us. We consume goods without thinking about their origins or their effects on our planet and we become more and more disconnected from it.
The good news is that there are many ways to fight the materialism virus, but first you need to understand what it is and how it works. Consider these 3 common obstacles and what you can do about them.
Happiness has more to do with experiences and relationships rather than possessions. Materialism is a trap that makes people unhappy. People are not meant to always have more, but rather they are supposed to be happy with what they already possess.
Materialism is a way of coping with the emptiness in life. It is a substitute for happiness. Most people are not aware of the emptiness in their lives because they fill it with material possessions (e.g., money, cars, clothes). Materialism is the belief that happiness can be achieved through material possessions.
Materialism is an addiction to having more things than other people, and it makes people feel depressed when they do not have enough money or material possessions. Mastering minimalism requires you to break the materialism mindset.
Shift your energy
- Pause before buying. Do you order kitchen appliances online and then wonder why you thought you needed them? Give yourself a cooling off period to reduce impulse purchases.
- Take vacations. Less than half of U.S. workers make full use of their vacation days. Plan a holiday around something you’ve been wanting to do but keep putting off.
- Watch less TV. Studies show that screen time doesn’t contribute much to your wellbeing. Go play sports or work on your hobby.
- Care about others. Spend more time with your family and friends. Eat family dinners and read to your children. Host potluck parties and take road trips on weekends.
Increasing Your Self Esteem:
Is your self-image based on what you own? Everyone seems to think that the more things you have, the better life is. But what if I told you it's not true? That would really blow your mind away, wouldn't it?
Why is it so hard to understand that having less could actually make your life better? It's because we're too focused on materialism. We're too focused on getting more things that we don't stop to think about the negative impact of our actions. Materialism is detrimental to your self-esteem because you feel like your life will be better if you own more things. It's the idea that everything in the world is out to get what they want from you, and it's up to them to bring you satisfaction and joy.
But it's not true at all, is it? If we were to stop for a second and pay attention to what our hearts desire rather than what our eyes tell us we need, we might find that having less really does make our lives better. It's just a matter of being open to everything life has to offer you.
Build a more solid foundation for affirming your true worth with these techniques
In order to find true happiness, we must overcome the desire for material possessions. We must put down the phones, tablets and other electronics that keep us from experiencing real life. We need to stop thinking about what we do not have or cannot afford for a second, because it is getting us nowhere. Instead of living our lives with an eye on the people around us, we should be looking inward.
Resist comparisons. Cut back on social media and magazines if they make you pine for the expensive clothing and exotic vacations celebrities enjoy. Appreciate the pleasures in your life, like drinking your morning coffee or watching the sun set. Acknowledge the good in your life. If you have a roof over your head and food for dinner, be grateful.
Focus on what's truly important to you rather than being pulled by material desires. Where you live, what car you drive and the clothes on your back shouldn't matter if they don't bring happiness to your life.
Focus on relationships with people instead of material possessions. Getting to know someone is valuable; having a new pair of shoes or handbag won't change that.
Practice self-care Giving your mind and body what they really need may eliminate the urge for retail therapy. Eat a balanced diet, stay physically active, and get at least 7 hours of sleep each night.
Deprivation is not the answer. You don't need to skip your favorite meal if you already ate one that day and still have a healthy body image. You can enjoy material things in moderation, just don't let them take over your life.
Advocate for yourself. Practice asking for what you want. Express your needs and feelings respectfully and directly.
Many people are exceptionally good at ignoring their emotions, difficult emotions, and desires. Particularly, they may not want to create negative feelings by sharing their needs. The practice of minimalism is successful because it modulates what is said and done, what actions are taken. The true success of the life lived according to this way of thinking doesn't manifest until people learn how to overcome feelings for profit, status, and possessions. This is a slow process that requires dedication to the path of minimalism.
As you learn this way of thinking, give yourself plenty of time before making any big decisions. Try to “think” your way through a problem rather than making decisions based on what makes you feel good. Once you learn how to be more connected with yourself and the world around you, then you'll be able to make decisions based on what you really want rather than how it will feel.
It's ok if your life is not as simple or minimalist as others around you, because being simple is not about having less. It's about wanting little, appreciating more and taking your time with decisions to ensure they are the right ones for you.
Know your strengths. Take an inventory of your talents and skills. Look for ways to adapt your work methods to make the most of your abilities.
Review your goals at least once a year. Revise the list if necessary and add new ones to help you grow in different directions or cope with changes that have occurred during the past year.
Minimalism is a lifestyle that values living in the moment and appreciating what you already have instead of constantly wanting more. Being minimalist does not mean being rude or unfriendly to others, it simply means being aware of what you have and how it affects your quality of life. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses will help you make the most of your time and money
Add to your accomplishments.
Be confident in your abilities. You can do it!
Focus on the positive. Focus on what you've done instead of dwelling over past events or worrying about future possibilities that may or may not occur.
Make a list of your strong points and review it when you are feeling down.
Find the positive in everything, even if it's something negative or hurtful. Find ways to make what was once a bad experience into a good one through learning and growth.
Find new ideas and perspectives by talking to people you've never talked with before, reading different books/magazines, watching documentaries, taking courses in a variety of topics (not just your interests), etc.
Find new activities to do that are challenging and require focus, skill, or determination beyond what you would normally do (for example: learn a language on your own by reading textbooks, playing games/roleplays online with others who know the language, etc.). Develop your leadership skills by volunteering on the board of a local nonprofit. Learn how to grow your own organic vegetables.
Use your free time to travel or explore new places in your city. Find out what there is to do that you've never done before.
Developing an Abundant Mindset:
With a scarcity mindset, you view the world as one pie where you have to compete to get a slice. Abundant thinking recognizes the ability to bake more pies, so you don’t have to worry about going hungry. There’s plenty to go around.
Keep these ideas in mind to build an abundant mindset:
Give more. Look for opportunities to share your time, money, kindness, and talents.
The inner road to mastering minimalism is to look for opportunities to give. It can be in our time, money, kindness, or talents. Offer sincere compliments to your coworkers. Spend an afternoon helping an older neighbor weed their lawn. Send a care package to an ill friend.
Give more gifts that are handmade or homegrown. The next time you’re at the grocery store, pick up some fresh produce and make homemade jam for a neighbor.
Consider donating your time or money to charity in honor of someone’s birthday, wedding anniversary, graduation, etc.
Let your spouse know how much you appreciate the hard work that they do for your family. If someone has helped you, show your thanks in some way.
Cultivate a sense of appreciation. Let others know how their actions have made positive changes in your life. Keep a journal where you can write about the blessings you experience each day.
Change your vocabulary. Examine how you talk to yourself and others
Focus on words that recognize a person’s ability rather than their limitations.
Focus on the present moment rather than what you do not have or cannot attain. Show gratitude for your blessings. Turn down the volume on materialistic thoughts and emotions.
Choose words that motivate you to put forth effort and persist until you see the results you’re aiming for. Use words such as “achieve,” “progress,” and “success.”
Keep growing. Dedicate yourself to lifelong learning. Recognize that you have something to learn from each individual who you meet. Put your new knowledge into action so your performance becomes more efficient and effective.
Keep your mind clear. Do not allow yourself to be drawn into the drama of others’ lives or busybodies in general.
Do it for you, do it because you want to, not because you have to. Every step of the way, ask yourself if this is what you really want. If it’s something that will make your life more meaningful and satisfying in the long run. If it’s something that will help you in the pursuit of your goals and aspirations.
Building and Mastering Your Minimalist Mindset
Minimalism is an effective way to reduce stress, connect with others, and live a more meaningful life. While you’re cleaning out your garage and cancelling subscriptions, be sure to examine your priorities and think about your purpose.
The journey of mastering minimalism will be filled with ups and downs, but I can guarantee that when you are truly connected to yourself and the world around you, you'll be happier in your simplicity than if all of your desires were fulfilled.
Minimalism is not shaving off everything that makes you who you are, but it’s trimming away what doesn’t. It’s about being content with what you have and knowing that the life you live is the one that makes you happy.
This is where changing your mindset comes in. You can't truly embrace the minimalist lifestyle until you can change your mindset and accept that you don't need all of the materialistic things in life to be fulfilled.
Ask yourself: What can be let go of in order for me to live a more simplified, intentional and fulfilling life? What do I really need in my life?How will it feel to live a clutter-free life in a home you love?
You can answer all of these questions with the minimalist lifestyle.
What is minimalism, to me?
If someone were to ask me what minimalism is, it’s a lifestyle that allows you to live any way you want without the burden of owning a lot. It’s about being content with what you have and not being consumed by the need for more. It’s a way of living that will allow you to go farther in life than the person who is always chasing after the next big thing.
It’s a mindset that says, “I'm just going to get by with what I have and will continue living my life to the fullest.” It can also be a way of thinking that says, “I'm going to make do with what I have and enjoy it more than if I had something else,” or even better, “I'm going to get creative and find ways to enjoy what I have more than if I had something else.”
It’s a way of thinking that says, “you don’t need more stuff.” It’s a kind of thinking that can keep you from spending money or accumulating things just for the sake of having and owning them, in order to feel like you matter or that life is worth living. What’s the most important thing, according to minimalism? It’s not what you own; it's how those things make you feel.
Minimalism is about producing more, not owning more. It’s about experiencing life instead of collecting the evidence of experiences in the form of things that fill up our houses. The benefits of minimalism aren't just about getting rid of junk to simplify your life, although that can be a real benefit. It's more than having fewer things or less clutter in your home or office. The benefits of minimalism are about how you feel when your life is simpler and more organized.
Minimalism is a tool for discovering what's truly important to us as individuals. It's a way to focus on the things that really matter, so we can put our energy into making those things happen in our lives.
The Key Principle of Minimalism
Minimalism is about being intentional with your time and energy. It's about focusing on what brings you joy, happiness, love and fulfillment in your life. Minimalism is an invitation to step back, gain some perspective and ask yourself what's really important in your life. It's also about asking how you can free up more time for the things that are most important to you.
Minimalism is about asking the question, “What do I really need in my life?” What's essential? What can be let go of in order for me to live a more simplified, intentional and fulfilling life?
Minimalism is about living with less so you can give yourself the gift of more. It's about investing in high quality items that will last for years to come. It's about being thoughtful of each purchase, so you can live more intentionally and with less stress.
Minimalism is not just a lifestyle choice that will make your life easier, but it's also a tool to help you save money. If you're living with less, then of course your expenses will be less.
Minimalism is not about deprivation and giving something up. Instead it's about making a choice to have less so you can have more.
Minimalism is living with just the essentials, and then having complete freedom on how to use your time and energy.
Minimalism is about focusing on only the important things in life, which can eliminate a lot of stress by freeing up your mind from unnecessary clutter.
Minimalism is a choice and it doesn't have to be hard.
Best thing about minimalism
The best thing about minimalism is that you can start slow and gradually work your way towards the ultimate goal of living a minimalist lifestyle. It's not a race after all, and you don't have to be perfect from day one.
Here are some things that I've done in the past few months:
- Decluttered and organized my closet. I tossed or donated all those clothes I was holding on to for the ‘just in case'. I pared down my t-shirt collection. I kept the shoes I actually wear and found homes for the rest.
- Decluttered and scaled down common areas of my house. I haven't had a DVD player or VHS player for years but I had all of these tapes and DVDs still. I found new homes for them, with people that will use them. I sorted through the clutter and organized what was left, making a home for everything. If it doesn't belong in one room or another, I make sure it doesn't stay there.
- Cleaned up my Digital self. I organized and sorted through so much email. I was putting this off for so long that it was a daunting task. Now, it's so much easier to deal with on a daily basis. I left social media groups/pages that were not in line with my goals or good for me. I limit my social time.
I have a long way to go before I have addressed every aspect of my life to align it with my values. I will be working on the other areas of my life to make it more minimalistic, but at least I am off to a great start!
The Inner Road to Mastering Minimalism
Without traveling the inner road to the minimalist mindset, none of this would be possible. You have to change your mindset and retrain your mind . This is the toughest part of this journey and the most important part of the process. Some days are easier than others. But, I am ready for this change to be the best part of my life
I know without a doubt that minimalism is the right path for me. All the benefits for my life are too great to deny, and I refuse to live a life that is not aligned with who I am. The only way forward from here is through!
I am going to go on this journey and change my life for the better! I am going to do this! You can, too! Are you ready to join me?