Living a Minimalist Lifestyle – What does that mean?
To begin lets define some terms so we are all speaking the same language with no assumptions.
According to the Dictionary via Google. Minimalist is defined as:
noun: minimalist; plural noun: minimalists
1. a person who advocates or practises minimalism.
2. a person advocating moderate reform in politics.
adjective: minimalist; adjective: minimalistic
1. relating to minimalism.
- lacking decoration or adornment; deliberately simple or basic in design or style.
“his recently renovated minimalist Conran kitchen”
2. advocating moderate political reform.
early 20th century: first used with reference to the Russian Mensheviks. Usage in art and music dates from the 1960s.
Therefore before we go any further we need to define Minimalism, ref Dictionary via Google. Minimalism is:
- a movement in sculpture and painting which arose in the 1950s, characterized by the use of simple, massive forms.
2. an avant-garde movement in music characterized by the repetition of very
short phrases which change gradually, producing a hypnotic effect.
3. deliberate lack of decoration or adornment in style or design.
“his living room was a testament to minimalism
For the purpose of the topic of this article, I am referring to the third definition as:
‘using a lack of decoration or adornment in style or design’.
In recent years there has been a movement called a Minimalist Lifestyle that extends this definition of minimalist to living with less or living with less ‘stuff’, material possessions or objects. Therefore this is the topic of this article.
Why talk about Living a Minimalist Lifestyle?
Because the benefits are:
- Lowers stress
- Increases feelings of well being, of feeling in control and
- Potentially increases savings
What is Living a Minimalist Lifestyle?
From my personal perspective, as you will create a definition that works for you and your lifestyle. Living a Minimalist Lifestyle for me is having a home and office space that has clear surfaces free of too many objects, furniture and clutter. So that when I walk into a room like this I’m able to be in the moment much more, I feel calmer and as a result I am much more productive at work and relaxed at home.
Now the realities of how well I achieve this is varying and it depends on the room. In my home, the majority of my home I feel I achieve these goals but it is my home office space that is the continual struggle. But that’s my challenge others I have discussed a minimalist lifestyle with have said the shed or garage or medical cupboard in the bathroom or shoe closet or spare room are their challenges.
So why aren’t we all living a minimalist lifestyle?
Because life happens. We all get busy with the day to day running of our lives and before you know it, you have accumulated a great deal of ‘stuff’.
I remember about 5 years ago moving from a 2 bedroom apartment to a 3 bedroom house. When we initially moved in I thought, we have so much space and I love not feeling cramped. Within the span of 2 years, we needed to move out of the house (was a rental property) to the 2 bedroom apartment we owned and guess what? We didn’t fit anymore. We had just accumulated furniture, clothes, toys, technology devices etc etc. Unless you have an awareness it often just seems to happen.
So what can you do? You know the old saying of the Spring time clean out? Well do that but I also do a Summer time clear out. For me, summer works best because that’s when we have the longest school holidays here in Australia where I currently live. And during this down time, I clear out and I get my son to participate too. We moved back into the 2 bed aparment 3 years ago and so this is our third summer clearing out. The first 2 times, my son was a tad grumpy about it but now he knows this is just what happens during the summer holidays, so with his cooperation it was much easier.
But where do you start?
I believe there are 3 parts to living a Minimalist Lifestyle:
- Adopt a Minimalist Mindset
- Take time to be in the Moment
- De-clutter to begin and to maintain
Adopt a Minimalist Mindset
What I mean by adopting a minimalist mindset is when I buy anything, I ask myself:
- Do I need or want this?
- How will this serve me? And
- Do I need to get rid of something I already have first before I buy or accept this?
Do I need or want this
Saying this to myself is just a regular reminder of my preference to living with ‘less stuff’.
Fulfilling a want is totally ok. Buying those cute summer sandals when your existing ones have worn out or you just don’t have any is fine. Especially if whenever you wear them it lifts you. The key is to use them for the purpose that you purchased them. If you buy them and don’t wear them and then feel guilty whenever you see them in your wardrobe, this leads me to the second point of ‘How will it serve me’
How will this serve me?
I love this question because whenever I ask myself this, it normally ignites an emotion of some kind such as joy or guilt for something I know deep down I don’t really need or never will use but am excited or am seduced by the sales process. Therefore often, I will walk away from a buying situation and to return when I’m not so influenced by the excitement of the sale or purchase process. Just take some time to think how it will enhance what I already have. Then if you know it serves you go back.
Do I need to get rid of something I already have first before I buy or accept this?
Have you ever bought a black shirt to go home and find you already have 3 black shirts that are all very similar? Or 3 bikes or boats or kitchen appliances?
Take Time to Be in the Moment
Most of these tips simply requires you to ‘be in the moment’. However, I understand we live in busy times with many distractions so this can often be a challenge. Do whatever works for you to remind yourself daily to come back to the present moment. Whether it be a walk in nature, a short guided meditation, swimming or yoga. I would love to hear what works for you, feel free to share in the comments below.
De-clutter to begin and maintain
Now I am no de-cluttering or Feng Shui Consultant or Master (de-cluttering is an important part of Feng Shui) for the flow of energy. I am speaking from having experienced the benefits of de-cluttering and living with less.
I have had help before therefore if you feel it is overwhelming to start then do get support. De-cluttering is emotional and it is hard. However with practice, it does get easier. My annual routine helps me, and you will work out what will work for you.
A final note
Most importantly if you want to achieve Living a Minimalist Lifestyle don’t be too hard on yourself. Set your own standards and criteria. If it is all feeling ‘too hard’ then get support. Begin by sharing and commenting here if that will help as a first step.
You are on your own journey. It is counterproductive to compare yourself with others. For instance, I have one friend that is a minimalist ‘freak’ (I say that with admiration) however her levels of minimalist are too ‘harsh’ for me. I prefer a more ‘homey’ feeling. And I have another friend that is a horder. They know it and they do what works for them.