“Simplicity boils down to two steps: Identify the essential. Eliminate the rest.” Leo Babauta
Life is made up of cycles. You may have begun your journey into the world of minimalism full of inspiration and clear focus on the essentials…but you’ve likely hit a couple bumps along the way. It’s easy to go off track, get distracted or lose sight of the core issues when immersed in your daily life. That’s why it’s important to come full circle, return to base and zoom out. Get your nose out of the details and see the big picture for what it is! Transitioning to a minimalist lifestyle has a few very clear-cut, incredibly transformational benefits! That’s the whole point! Let’s go over them so you can get back in touch with the joys simplicity (that are really the reason you’ve chosen minimalism over other possible lifestyles!).
44.1 Less Stuff Means More Time & Energy
“Every increased possession loads us with new weariness.” John Ruskin
It’s slowly sinking into the collective awareness that material wealth does not insure lifelong happiness. It can actually often increase stress and decrease quality of life. Simplifying your life and eliminating the non-essentials has a much better track record on both fronts!
Socrates said “beware the barrenness of a busy life.” In our day and age it can be very, very challenging to strike the right balance between doing what we’re passionate about, or what brings in the bucks, and making time for other equally important things (like eating well, spending time with our loved ones, getting outside often enough…etc!). We are culturally encouraged to focus only and always on “productivity” with the end goal of material acquisition. The problem, (aside from the unhealthy side-effects of stress!) is that, as you know, accumulating stuff, whatever kind of stuff it may be, ends up taking up time and energy. Your time and energy gets sucked up by working in order to first afford all said stuff, and space to keep it all in, and then in the management of said stuff (from cleaning, to fixing, to replacing, to moving…stuff requires time and energy!). This is where minimalism comes in.
One of the core principles of a minimalist lifestyle is, simply put, to get rid of stuff and stop accumulating more of it, so that you can have more time and energy for other things. That’s all there really is to it! No need to complicate the idea any more than that! Less stuff equals more time and more energy for you! It also evidently means more money, in the sense that all of sudden funds that were going towards acquiring, managing and storing certain things are freed up for alternative uses. So basically by simply cutting down on what you own and shifting your mentality from a materialistic consumerism-oriented one to a minimalist one you free up all the resources you were probably finding scarce in the past! On top of all that, the simple fact of having more time and more energy can have profound effects on several other aspects of your life. It allows you to increase your level of self-awareness and self-actualization, has positive effects on your relationships and helps you find balance in your everyday life. Here’s how…
44.2 Self-Knowledge & Actualization
“Getting rid of everything that doesn’t matter allows you to remember who you are. Simplicity doesn’t change who you are, it brings you back to who you are.” Courtney Carver
People from all walks of life have been saying since the beginning of recorded history that simplicity is essential to self-knowledge. And that self-knowledge is essential to both true happiness and mastery (i.e. being successful and highly skilled in life…). From ancient Greece to India, from the bible to the tao te ching, to just about every self-help book or pop psychology blog you’ll ever read, it’s unanimously accepted that knowing yourself is the first step to becoming happier, healthier and more fulfilled in your life. Carl Jung put it this way: “your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” In other words, everything you’re seeking for in life can be found within you. Sounds like something Yoda would say perhaps, but rumour has it, it’s true.
When you consider how incredibly important simplicity seems to be to becoming your authentic self, it seems obvious that minimalism is the way to go. Minimalism is essentially just the exterior manifestation of you sloughing off the inessentials in your life. When you remove a whole lot of unnecessary clutter from your physical and mental space (by getting rid of stuff and refusing to buy things you don’t need!) you inevitably create time and space for self-discovery. This is one of those awesome side-effects of having more time and energy! The fact of having freed up some funds can also contribute to self-awareness should you choose to invest some of it in things like meditation courses, silent retreats, or simply time off somewhere where you can hang out alone and explore your inner world.
Think of it this way. You can’t really be in the driver’s seat of your life until you’re aware of what makes you tick. “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate,” (Carl Jung). Time to yourself is absolutely crucial to building self-awareness. Therefore, by eliminating the excess stuff and getting out of the race to acquire more, you provide yourself a golden opportunity to get to know yourself and truly take the reins of your life. This in and of itself it one hell of a good reason to shift to a minimalist lifestyle!
44.3 Minimalism is Good For Your Relationships
“Living simply makes loving simple” Bell Hooks
Minimalism can have major positive impacts on all levels of your relationships with others. When you apply your minimalist lifestyle changes on a deeper level, by eliminating mental and emotional clutter in addition to the physical side of things, there’s no limit to the improvements you can experience!
First off, the fact of getting to know yourself better, which we just discussed, is a big plus when it comes to creating authentic connections. When you really know yourself you’re much better equipped to present your authentic self to others. Pretty obvious, right? Being solid in your identity leads to way more self-confidence. This means being able to connect on a deeper level simply because your energy and thoughts are no longer tied up in self-doubt and insecurity. It exponentially simplifies your interactions when you can just be present to the conversation rather than being caught up in distracted self-consciousness! Plus, better self-awareness means you’ll be capable of noticing when and why certain things people do or say are triggering for you. This means being better equipped to avoid or resolve conflict, which is essential to long term relationships and healthy work environments.
Letting go of emotional clutter is also an essential piece of having any kind of healthy romantic relationship. As minimalist Joshua Fields Millburn so aptly puts it, “Leave the baggage of previous relationships before you begin with a new one. Otherwise, it’s impossible to give your new love a real chance.It’s like when you move. You almost inevitably downsize. Even if you’re moving into a bigger place, moving is an excellent opportunity to get rid of broken things you’ve been saving on the off chance you can fix them, gifts you don’t want that you feel obligated to keep because of the sender, or other things you should have gotten rid of a long time ago. Moving is an excellent opportunity to get rid of stuff you don’t need, and make room for the new and exciting.If you’ve had a severe heartbreak, or are struggling with another relationship issue, put in the work before you go looking for the “right person” again. Clean out your emotional attic and get rid of those unwanted gifts, to make room for all new feelings and experiences.”
Furthermore, even first-level minimalism will inevitably have some positive impacts on your relationships with those close to you. This is because, as you know, owning less stuff, and spending less time and energy acquiring and managing all that stuff, frees up a lot of your time, energy and finances. Should you choose to do so, all of those newfound resources can be partially attributed to more quality time with your loved ones. So basically, being minimalist has the potential to help you build health, sustainable, joyful relationships in every sphere of your life! Can you think of any better reason to stay committed to your minimalist lifestyle?
44.4 Finding Balance and Meaning in a Chaotic World
“To be richer, happier, and freer, all you need to do is want less.” Francine Jay
More time, more energy, more available funds, deeper self-knowledge and ability to self-actualize, and healthier relationship dynamics with others. Sounds like a recipe for better overall well-being, balance and meaning in your life, don’t ya think? When you put it all together it really is a pretty magical combo.
Beyond the nitty gritty details of everyday life, balance and meaning are probably the two most important factors impacting your overall well-being and feeling of happiness, be it in your personal or work life. Reducing the clutter in our lives, both internally and externally, allows us to better tap into that sense of purpose. With less unnecessary things and emotional clutter distracting us and siphoning your energy, you’re freer to focus on what gives your life meaning. Leading a meaningful life is not just a nice bonus you luck out on or not…it’s one of the key elements of mental health! And one of the main things that contributes to meaning in peoples lives is the feeling of doing something for the “greater good.”
Rwandan community worker and writer Bangambiki Habyarimana wisely says “If you want a meaningful life for yourself don’t ask “What can the world offer to me?” but “What can I offer to the world?” When you choose a minimalist lifestyle you’re setting yourself to have the time, energy and flexibility necessary to see beyond your own needs and up the meaningfulness factor in basically everything you do in life! It’s near impossible to see the benefits of generosity and contributing positively to the world around when we’re buried neck deep in worry, stress and overwork! Minimalism lets you take a step back, find your balance, and then move forward with a profound connection to what makes life worth living! And for most of us, that involves building positive relationships and being part of something bigger than ourselves.
44.5 Action Point Summary – Here’s What You Need to Do Now!
“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” Steve Jobs
It’s easy to see how minimalism can positively impact every sphere of your life. If you connect with these core principles and benefits of your minimalist lifestyle path, you’ll be injecting joy into your system on a daily basis!