It’s easy to fall into the popular consumption trap of our society — where you feel you have to wear the newest styles, own the coolest products, live in an Insta-worthy home and drive a status car. But this lifestyle won’t necessarily make you happy. The trend of minimalism has been gaining popularity in the U.S. and other countries, and for good reason. A minimalist lifestyle is one of simplicity — one that focuses more on the things that matter in life, and less on anything that distracts you from living thoughtfully.
You’ve heard the phrase “less is more.” It’s important to understand why this phrase endures the test of time. Minimalism incorporates simplicity into many parts of your life and offers various approaches to practice it. Read on for five small steps you can follow to start incorporating minimalism into your daily life!
Whether you notice it or not, clutter has an enormous effect on your life. If you’re in the habit of shopping online when you feel bored or stressed out, you likely have lots of clutter — things you may not even pay attention to, clothes you never wear, books you’ll never read and gadgets you no longer use. You don’t have to burn all your worldly possessions to be a minimalist, but you should take action if you have lots of clutter in your home, office or elsewhere in your life.
Start small. Take it room by room, closet by closet and drawer by drawer, until you can sift through your belongings and decide what needs to stay and what can go. You will feel a weight lifting off your shoulders as your breathing room expands. Physical clutter will only distract you, so focus your time and energy on controlling this aspect of your life. It will no doubt take time to get yourself into the proper mindset where you automatically stop and think before you purchase things. But until then, this is a start.
Another way to keep your life decluttered is to live in a smaller space. Tiny homes have gained in popularity lately as an alternative to larger apartments, condos or homes with unnecessary space. If you have a smaller living space, you won’t have room to hoard things you don’t need. Decreasing the size of your living space can also be incredibly cost-effective, as well as more eco-friendly. While there are many benefits to owning a tiny home, making it easier to living a minimalist lifestyle is one of the top ones.
Donate What You Don’t Need
Once you’ve explored the clutter in your life, it’s time to get rid of anything you’ve determined you won’t miss. Before you jump to consignment or resale of your items, consider donating them to the community nonprofit of your choice, such as a shelter. You will feel fulfilled not only from decreasing your clutter, but also by giving back to those in need. That suit jacket you bought four years ago and never wear could make someone else somewhere very happy.
After you’ve rid yourself of unnecessary clutter in your life, stay on top of what’s left by keeping yourself organized. Find a home for everything. Keep books on the bookshelf, DVDs in your TV stand, clothes hung up and folded in your closet, dishes out of the sink — you get the idea. If you make it a point to keep things where they belong, clutter won’t accumulate. However, if you fail to do this, your clutter will be back before you know it.
Assign your makeup to one specific bathroom drawer. Same goes for office supplies. You’ll have more room to think and focus on your work.
Set aside 10 minutes every night to tidy up your main living spaces — fold the blankets in the living room, put away clean dishes from dinner and tackle your laundry pile. While these things aren’t fun, you’ll feel more relief if you stay on top of them, so you have less to do at any given time.
Put Effort Into Your Relationships
The whole point of minimalism is to transition your focus from the things that don’t matter to the things that do — like relationships. Relationships — especially crucial ones, like those with significant others, family members, friends and co-workers — take a fair amount of work if you want them to be long-lasting and successful.
One modern example of lost focus is if you go to dinner with someone but have your face glued to your phone the entire time, texting friends or scrolling through social media. If you’re guilty of this kind of behavior, realize it’s likely hurting your relationships and human connections with others.
It’s also important to let go of superficial relationships in your life so you can re-channel that energy into the ones that help you grow and become a better person.
Unplug Once in a While
Don’t be afraid to unplug yourself from your devices every once in a while so you can focus on other things happening in the present. Yes, social media can be addictive and come as a second nature, but it’s important to cut down on your usage. It’s also unhealthy to constantly compare yourself to others, which is what we do, whether we like to admit it or not.
Studies show some people check their devices every 6.5 minutes. Don’t be that person. Improve your in-person connections with people for a more rewarding experience.
Relish the here and now — what is happening in your life moment by moment. If you’re constantly viewing the world through your phone screen or by focusing on what you don’t have or aren’t doing, it’s much harder to make memories and explore new things. Think about it. If you go to a concert and take pictures and videos the entire time, you’ll miss a lot of aspects of the experience. Be present, be mindful and live in the moment.
Remember, less is more. You don’t have to give up all the material things you enjoy — you just want to have a safe balance between those things and what is realistically important in your life. Focus less on your possessions, and more on your overall happiness.