For those of you following me from the beginning of my journey, you will know I consider myself a minimalist.
I’ve had a lot of questions about what does that actually entail, being a minimalist, have I had to make drastic changes to my life? So, I wanted to share with you what minimalism means to me.
When I started my minimalism journey, I didn’t even really know that’s what it was. I just knew that I needed to make changes in my life and that it would have to start with my surroundings and my mindset.
Since then, I regularly declutter my home of things that don’t add value to my life, I adore organising things in trays and storage boxes to make everything look cleaner and tidier (yes, you can still have storage helpers when you’re a minimalist!), and I’ve drastically reduced the amount of money I spend, resulting in a saving of $10,000 in my first year of minimalism!
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What is minimalism
Well that’s just the question isn’t it? But there is no set definition of what minimalism should be.
Webster’s English Dictionary does define the word as meaning:
“a style or technique (as in music, literature, or design) that is characterized by extreme spareness and simplicity”
And same can be said for the minimalism we are talking about today. Minimalism within our homes, our minds, our everyday lives.
But one’s definition of ‘extreme’ maybe completely different to another. Minimalism can mean different things to different people.
For example, I used to have over 100 pairs of shoes and have paired right down to just 15 (not that I need to explain but I travel a lot so my footwear comprises of flip flops to trainers to hiking boots to snow boots and of course a pair of heels or two!).
To me, at that time, this was extreme. To go from over 100 pairs of shoes to just 15. Sounds extreme right?
But for others, 15 pairs of shoes still sounds way too much and they prefer a simpler two or three pairs.
The point is, both are seen as minimalist. Both have let go of excess items that are hardly ever used and don’t add value to their lives.
What minimalism isn’t
Minimalism does not mean living off-grid in a cabin in the woods. It doesn’t mean that all your worldly possessions must fit into just one backpack that you must be able to carry by yourself.
Minimalism doesn’t mean that you can’t own anything that isn’t a necessity, such as a car or a TV, or that you can’t take vacations or spend money.
It doesn’t mean throwing everything away. Just because an item isn’t necessarily essential, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t bring value to you or your home. It doesn’t mean that you don’t love it.
Minimalism doesn’t mean that you can’t own 10, 100 or 1000 pairs of shoes!
Minimalism isn’t just for those with zero debt or those who can ‘afford to be a minimalist’.
It doesn’t mean you can’t have beautiful things in your home, even if these things don’t have a significant purpose.
Minimalism also isn’t about having white walls, very little furniture and living in a space that looks cold and uninviting.
However, minimalism CAN be any of the above things! It can be whatever you make of it, whatever your style is, and whatever you desire it to be.
What minimalism means to me
There were many reasons I made the decision to try minimalism. I had listened to podcasts by The Minimalists and read The Minimalist Home by Joshua Becker, as well as binge watched Tidying Up With Marie Kondo on Netflix, and this is what I learned:
Minimalism was likely to reduce my stress levels, add happiness to my life, allow me to be more creative, provide me with more freedom and give me a clearer idea of my goals in life.
This is what I wanted my life to look like. This is what minimalism would mean to me.
Reduced stress levels
Every item in my home creates a job. Kitchen wear has to be cleaned. Plants have to be watered. Clothes have to be washed and ironed. Ornaments have to be dusted. Furniture has to be moved in order to clean around it.
So it made sense that by eliminating the things I didn’t love, it would leave less jobs for me to do around the house, right? Right!
So, the less time I now spend having to wash dishes and clothes, dusting, tidying, ironing in the evening time after my actual job, the more time I had for the important stuff. Like exercise. Hanging out with family and friends. My stress levels reduced.
As I mentioned previously, having more time to spend on the things that are important has greatly improved my overall happiness!
It’s hard to see how having less things can make you happy, especially if this is the way you were brought up. But spending less time on things that don’t really matter and more time on things like your friends & family, your hobbies, your goals and your future, is all around a better way to live.
Minimalism helps you understand what really matters and it enables you to be more present in the moment. Instead of wishing that you had time to do the things that make you happy or think about how awesome it would be if only I could go on vacation or buy some new clothes, you are able to appreciate what you already have in front of your eyes.
I find when my space is cluttered and messy, so is my mind. When my home is calm, my mind is able to open up and get more creative.
Minimalism has helped me to be more creative at work, and I feel like my mind has a lot more room to be creative now.
And it’s really helped me with the way that I display things in my home, as well as my style of dressing and decorating.
I’ve even started playing my guitar again, since I now have the time to do so!
Freedom from consumerism and debt
Since beginning with minimalism, I find I’m not at all trying to ‘keep up with the Jones’ anymore. While I’d love to say I never really did, there were always some ways in which I was.
I always wanted to have a newer phone, if I had an occasion coming up I’d feel like I’d have to buy something new so I’d fit in with the crowd.
Now that I’m living a less materialistic life and spending more on experiences, my bank balance has begun to rise! So instead of having debt or a bunch of possessions, I have money in the bank.
Clearer idea of life goals
I always thought that having a bunch of possessions, a huge wardrobe full of clothes and a beautiful apartment would mean I’d have my dream life.
But now that I’m living with less, I can see more clearly how the goalposts move further away from you as your hectic life and cluttered house pile up around you.
I’ve realised that working all the hours under the sun to make money to buy things isn’t what life is about for me. And while I’m not quite there with leaving my full time job yet, I’ve drastically cut down my hours and working towards my future goals.
Minimalism does not have to be lived in a certain way or by a certain set of rules. You may choose to live with as little as possible and others may choose the complete opposite.
What minimalism means to me may be something completely different to what it means to you. You have your ideas of what you want out of life and I have mine.
If any of the above inspires you to give minimalism a go or you just want to find out a little more, why not check out my guide on minimalism for beginners to get you started.
And don’t worry too much about labeling yourself as a minimalist or not. You don’t have to change your life overnight just because you might be reading this post right now!
- 26 things I stopped buying to embrace minimalism
- 21 simple living tips to reduce everyday stress
- How to organise your life and simplify your days
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