Is Minimalism Right for You?

By Cheryl Proska

Living a minimalist lifestyle gained national attention after the release of the 2015 film Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things. Over the past three years the makers of the film, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, have helped over 20 million people attain meaningful lives while living with less.

So what is minimalism? Although it holds a different meaning for everyone, the concept can generally be defined as “the intentional promotion of the things people value most and the removal of everything that distracts from them.”

For example… Let’s say you have a favorite book. You read this book once a year. The book sits on a shelf surrounded by hundreds of other books you’ve read only once, books you’ve never gotten around to reading, books gifted that you didn’t care for and books you’re just not sure even belong to you. Why keep all those books when you only really care about one or two? That’s minimalism.

If you think living life with only what you need sounds appealing, you’re not alone! There are three typical reactions people have once deciding to adopt this lifestyle:

  1. “I’m very interested in simplifying my life but I’m not sure where to begin, and I’m nervous that I may regret it once I start.”
  2. “I’m not quite sure if owning just the bare minimum is completely necessary or the right way to go, but I’m definitely interested in decluttering aspects of my life. I’m ready to start small and go from there.
  3. “Sign me up! I’m ready to take all of my belongings to nearest dumpster as fast as possible.”

No matter where you fall on the minimalist spectrum, the best way to begin your journey is by going slowly – a term that, much like the definition of minimalism, is up for interpretation. Slowly can mean weeks, months or even years. This process takes time and effort, and comes at a different pace for each person.

Are you interested in incorporating minimalism into your life? Here are some helpful steps to get the ball rolling on downsizing to the bare minimum.

MAKE A LIST OF WHY YOU’RE DOING THIS

Make a list of all the reasons you want to live more simply. The actual reasons don’t matter, but the number of reasons do. If you’ve only come up with three or four, maybe you just need to do some spring cleaning or rent a storage shed. If the list takes up the entire page, it’s worth moving to the next step.

START WITH DUPLICATE ITEMS

If you’re not quite willing to part with all your personal items, start small with duplicate things around the house. Do you really need so many sets of dishes? When was the last time you watched any of those DVDs? Why have so many winter coats when you only wear one or two? Take all of the excesses and put them into storage. If you go a month without thinking about it or looking for it, it’s probably time to donate.

TRY PROJECT 333

Project 333 involves dressing with only 33 items for 3 months. This includes clothes, shoes, and accessories like jewelry and purses. It sounds extreme, but limiting clothing options actually makes life easier. Less time is spent stressing over what to wear and more time is spent focusing on the things that truly matter in life.

MAKE IT A GAME

If you’re the type of person who needs a little competition to really make a change, consider this idea from the pioneers of the minimalist movement. It’s called the 30-Day Minimalism Game.

“Find a friend or family member: someone who’s willing to get rid of their excess stuff. This month, each of you must get rid of one thing on the first day. On the second, two things. Three items on the third. So forth, and so on. Anything can go! Clothes, furniture, electronics, tools, decorations, etc. Donate, sell, or trash. Whatever you do, each material possession must be out of your house—and out of your life—by midnight each day.”

The person who lasts the longest is the winner. If you both make it until the end of the month, celebrate. Just don’t buy anything.

CONCLUSION

At its core, minimalism is about peace, calm, release and happiness. In a world where material objects are valued over emotion, this lifestyle reiterates the ability to feel joy from life itself rather than “stuff.” While taking the first steps can be challenging, the journey will get easier – and more rewarding – the further you go.

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