Beginners Guide To Minimalism
This post is an introductory guide to Minimalism created to help you establish a more meaningful life.
This “Guide To Minimalism for Beginners” provides you with;
- an overview on what Minimalism really is
- the benefits Minimalism brings to everyday life
- a three step guide on how you can begin simplifying your life today
What is Minimalism?
Simply put, a minimalist lifestyle means removing the things which aren’t adding value to your life in order to make way for things which are important.
Effectively what it sets out to achieve is…
LESS – clutter, stress, unhappiness, unfulfilling relationships, negativity
MORE – time and energy for things which make us genuinely happy and fulfilled
It sounds a simple formula right? But the fact is, most of us aren’t living it.
Our environment and society has us so caught up in the way of the modern world that we rarely reflect on what we truly want from our life.
We find ourselves in an age of mindless consumerism in the pursuit of happiness; out of touch with our true desires and values. We tend to place too much value on our ‘things’ often forgoing our true passions, desires, relationships and wellbeing. In turn for the value we place upon our things, we consume to fill the void.
It is important to recognise how the excesses of life impact our health, mental and spiritual wellbeing. With so much going on all of the time, its very easy to allow self care to completely drop off the radar.
There is, of course, nothing wrong with possessions or even wanting any of the above if that’s what makes you truly happy. And there’s the key note.
Minimalism is about stripping back all the noise and habituals, reassessing priorities so we can leave behind the excess stuff – possessions, relationships, activities, ideas – which dont bring real value to our life.
Once we’re clear on what truly brings us happiness, we can intentionally choose to focus our life on those things which makes us feel free, fulfilled and happy.
“Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom” The Minimalists
Dispelling the Minimalism Myths
I know from personal experience there are a lot of misconceptions circling Minimalism which can in the early days throw up more questions than answers. As this is a beginners guide to Minimalism its right to address the big minimalism myths before we move forward.
Minimalism is only for certain types of people Χ
Minimalism is relevant for everyone; no matter your job, marital status, family size or income. Whoever you are, minimalism can help you create a more meaningful life. There is no right or wrong way to become a Minimalist. Everyone has their own approach because YOU need to work within the parameters of your OWN happiness.
Minimalism is all about possessions Χ
Minimalism is not just about reducing possessions. It’s an intentional mind set change which impacts all areas of your happiness in life – work, relationships, life passions and stress.
You can’t buy anything new if you’re a Minimalist Χ
Minimalism is not throwing away everything you own and never buying anything, ever again. Moreover, Minimalism is definitely not about going without or suffering. At the very heart of minimalist is defining your essentials for happiness and contentment. We know that possessions do not equate to happiness but of course you will need some items. They key once you have essentials is to only replace an item, not add to the collection.
You can only own under 50 items to be a Minimalist Χ
Statements like these are nonsense! Whilst we aspire to have the fewest possible possessions, there’s no set number you have to work to. What a family of four (like us) need to be happy is likely to be very different to what you need.
How does Minimalism help in the everyday?
A big part of Minimalism is about “shedding the stuff” in order to free ourselves from meaningless possessions. Why is this so important? Well psychology studies show that physical clutter overloads our senses and leaves us feeling anxious and stressed. A clutter free environment helps our mental wellbeing – we’re happier, calmer people when we have less ‘stuff’ to tidy, clean, arrange, etc.
With less stuff there’s more free time and so you’re free to pursue things you really enjoy. Whether its reading, exercise, starting a new hobby or spending more time with loved ones, unlocking time to pursue passions will certainly boost happiness.
Minimalism seeks to deliver freedom which includes financial freedom. Most of us are guilty of buying more than we need to, especially when when we see what we perceive to be a great deal. I once read “a 25% off sale is still 75% more than you needed to spend” and it resonated with me so deeply. When we look at everything we buy, how much of it is really what we need? Buying and consuming less can only have a positive impact towards financial freedom.
Reducing human consumption is also absolutely critical for the welfare of our planet and its environments. By consuming less, we’re reducing our impact on the environment and creating a better world for everyone.
How to start simplifying today
By now you’ll hopefully understand what being a minimalist is about and how it benefits your life both in the everyday and longer term. The last section of this guide to Minimalism is all about how you can begin your Minimalism journey.
Step 1: Identify your Why
Minimalism is a journey towards a more intentional existence and understanding why we want this is a critical part of the process. Every step that follows from here on should should lead back to your “why”. Ask yourself;
Why do I want a simpler life? Why do I want less clutter? Why do I want more free time?
My ‘why’ is because I am truly happiest when I feel free. Free to travel and explore. Free from stress. Working and living in chaotic surroundings make me feel constricted and I am my best version of me when I’m calm and content. Minimalism is my enabler for leading a happy, meaningful life.
Step 2: Set some Guiding Principles
Making the commitment to change is a great step. Now lets think about what specifically are you going to change about your life in order to shape it into how you want it to be?
Setting some guiding principles for your journey forward will keep you focussed on the end game. There are times when you’ll feel outside of your comfort zone so staying focussed on what you’re trying to achieve will help push you through.
When establishing your guiding principles, think about:
- What makes you happy?
- What’s the cause of any unhappiness and stress?
- What does your lifestyle look like now?
- What do you want your lifestyle to look like in the future?
- How does your living space make you feel?
- How often do you do things because you can, just for fun?
- What activities leave you feeling drained and disengaged?
- What activities revitalise you?
I remember clearing out our spare room at the start of my minimalism journey (ohhh how I wish I had a beginners guide to minimalism back then!). We’d recently had our first baby so the house was becoming absolutely crazy with ‘stuff’. I found three huge boxes of wedding stuff I hadn’t opened it since I’d packed it away two years prior. A pang hit my stomach hard.
I stepped out of the room and didn’t return until I reappraised why I was doing this. My stress and anxiety was sky rocketing. I just couldn’t keep on top of everything in the house alongside new role as mum. My guiding principle (although I didn’t know it as that then) was to ensure we had a clutter free family home. This box of ‘momentos’ hadn’t been opened for years. It was just stuff. The memories lived in my heart not on unused confetti and pamphlets on tourist attractions!
Now return to your “why”. Link your guiding principles back to your why and keep focussed on that end in mind. You’ll need to have a few guiding principles for your journey forward. The most important thing is these principles are personal and meaningful to YOU and your vision of what you’d like your life to become.
Please try not to copy/paste the approach and influences of other minimalists. Your journey is your own and what is right for them is unlikely to be right for you. There are some minimalists who live out of a backpack travelling the world. There are some living in portable tiny homes. And there are also some working families with a house and car in the suburbs! Establish what your happy place is, find your groove and then get yourself there.
Step 3: Plan your first 30 days
Becoming a minimalist doesn’t happen overnight. Of course mindset change can be but its unrealistic to expect your life will be clutter and stress free in a few days. So embrace the journey, one step and one day at a time.
Review your why and guiding principles and make a plan for the things you want to achieve within the next month. If you’re struggling with where to start, here are some ideas:
I hope this guide to Minimalism has encouraged you to begin your Minimalism journey into better health and happiness. If you have any questions, please pop them in the comments. I’d also really love to hear how you’re progressing and about your own successes!
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