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Growing up, I never imagined that I’d lead a minimalist lifestyle.
After all, this is coming from a guy that had to own every model of iPhone since 2018. Fast forward to 2019, and my iPhone 6S is still going strong four years later.
So just what is minimalism?
To put it simply, it’s choosing to be intentional about the things you have in your life.
Often, people only consider “things” to be the belongings in their possession. But minimalism is so much more than that. It also refers to friends, jobs, and the ideas that one allows into their lives.
Minimalism means living with more of what’s important and less of what’s not important.
How I became a minimalist:
I was abruptly introduced to the concept of minimalism by my neighbor. She was appalled the first time she walked into my apartment at the number of “things” I had scattered around the house.
That is when she introduced me to the concept of minimalism. She called it “the joy of having less.” After doing a little more research about the idea later in the day, I made a conscious decision to give it a try.
While it certainly hasn’t been easy, I can attest to the fact that embracing minimalism has enabled me to live a happier life. It’s motivated me to focus on the most important aspects of life, like my health. It’s also allowed me to save smartly and reduce my consumption of things. Overall, I have learned to be intentional in how I spend my time, money, and energy.
In many ways minimalism has yielded similar benefits as meditation for me—that is, reduced stress, greater awareness of what’s important, and increased happiness.
If you’re struggling to go minimal, here are some proven tips that can help.
Find your why.
The first thing to do is search deeply and establish why you’re going minimal. Minimalism is liberating, but it’s also a drastic change to your lifestyle. If you don’t have a specific reason for embracing minimalism, you will most likely fall back to your old habits in time. Some of the reasons that inspire minimalist living include:
>> Need to save money or get out of debt
>> Need for more space around one’s home
>> Desire to be more green and environmentally friendly
Whatever your reason, clearly identify it first, and constantly remind yourself of it as you begin to strip away the “unessentials” in your life.
Set your own rules for minimalism:
Minimalism means different things to different people. For one individual, it could mean following a minimal beauty routine. For others, it could mean reducing the actual space that they live in by moving to a studio or tinier house.
And this is the exciting bit about living a minimal life: you get to evaluate your own life and determine what minimalism means on a personal level. Perhaps all you need to do is declutter your home. Or perhaps you have to completely downsize your life.
My personal minimalism journey:
For me, I wanted to really focus on minimalism in the general sense of the word—decluttering, simplifying, and purifying my surroundings and relationships.
Decluttering my home.
This is the hardest thing I had to do when I decided to go minimal. The thought of letting go the very items I had worked so hard to earn terrified me.
The way I got through it was by asking myself hard questions such as:
>> Is this item useful and meaningful?
>> Have I used this item in the last 12 months?
>> Does it add any value to my life?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then I keep it. Otherwise, unless they are family memorabilia, I donate or resell everything else.
Spending on experiences, not items:
We’ve all been conditioned to shop and accumulate things. After all, this is how businesses make money, and how you are supposed to feel happy—by having more and more things in your life, right? Wrong.
The single biggest shift in my behavior that has yielded me the most happiness is spending more on life experiences instead of physical items.
I used to constantly be on the hunt for the newest iPhone, the slimmest laptop, or biggest TV. In the end though, none of them brought me anything other than a one-day high.
Nowadays, I spend money on experiences that bring me a lifetime of good memories and connections. I’ve traveled to five different countries already this year, donated to numerous charities I didn’t even know existed before, and helped pay down a friend’s debt. And I’ve never felt better.
Performing a social media detox:
I have nothing against social media platforms. But when you spend every second of the day checking your Instagram feed, it becomes a major distraction.
Excessive reliance on social media can lead to anxiety, depression, and cyberbullying, not to mention disruption of a normal sleeping pattern.
As part of my minimalistic lifestyle, I made a conscious decision to stop using social media as a form of entertainment, but only as a way to stay in touch with people. Do I really care what Bob had for dinner yesterday, or Ann’s most recent trip to Italy? No. I’d much rather spend that energy enjoying my own life, such as bonding with family, meeting up with friends, exercising, and more.
Purging toxic relationships:
Just like staying clear from social media, another part of purifying my life was to start staying clear of the “toxic” people in my life. These are the people who always take but never give, always criticize but never encourage, and also just people who constantly create drama when I’m around them.
I slowly distanced myself from those kinds of people, and I’m so much happier as a result.
Are you ready to embark on a minimalist journey?
A minimalist lifestyle requires a shift in mindset as much as any physical change.
This way of life is not just about decluttering and saving money. It’s about adding value in the same measure you’re subtracting junk. Change the way you think about your activities—how you shop, eat, and exercise.
Doing this will help you identify what brings most bliss to your life. It certainly has for me.