5 GENTLE REMINDERS ABOUT MINIMALISM AND THE MINIMALIST LIFESTYLE
Unfortunately, and unfairly, minimalism receives some bad press. Here are 5 gentle reminders about minimalism and the minimalist lifestyle which I hope encourage you to explore it for yourself with an open mind and heart.
MINIMALISM AS A LIFESTYLE
Minimalism has changed my life for the better in so many ways. However, it also receives more than its fair share of criticism. In today’s article, I wanted to share some thoughts about what minimalism means to me and 5 gentle reminders about minimalism and the minimalist lifestyle. I hope they give you some food for thought and encouragement to explore it for yourself if you’d like to.
5 GENTLE REMINDERS ABOUT MINIMALISM
Thinking of exploring minimalism but struggling to know how it might work for you? Here are 5 gentle reminders about minimalism to help make it more approachable and realistic.
1. Minimalism is not just about your stuff
I’m starting this article with something that I wish I’d known at the start of my own minimalist journey. I was decluttering my home, clearing out stuff that my family had accumulated and donating it to those who I hoped could make better use of it. All on the premise of less stuff in my home meant less stuff to clean, clear and tidy away. Decluttering was hard work, especially when my family weren’t on board and helping out!
What I hadn’t appreciated until a while after, was that minimalism wasn’t limited to just being about my stuff. Whilst it had begun that way, minimalism actually became a lifestyle shift and complete change in perspective. If only we’d all known what a difference it was going to make. It may have made wading through mountains of stuff that much less hard work!
- We created memories and experiences through time spent together as a family.
- We simplified our home to provide a welcoming, calm and relaxing haven away from the busy world.
- We decluttered our schedule and found the value in being less busy and making time to just be, instead of do, achieve and chase.
- We limited screen time and put in place boundaries, habits and flexible routines to support positive health and wellbeing in body and mind.
- We found ways to reconnect with ourselves and each other, to grow our minds and expand our horizons.
They were to do with more precious and limited resources such as time, space, freedom, energy, calm, joy and peace.
2. Minimalism is about intentionality
The reason why we were able to make such profound changes to our everyday family life was that we became more purposeful and deliberate about what we let into our home and our days and what we kept out.
It hadn’t started out that way, but as we gained confidence and clarity in decluttering our stuff, we adopted the same principles in decluttering and simplifying other areas of our life too.
Intention is at the heart of a minimalist lifestyle. Go back to basics. Yes, the stuff in your home if that’s the easiest and most obvious place for you to begin.
Then expand your field of vision to the calendar on your wall, the icons on your desktop, the emails in your inbox, the paper pile sitting on your desk, the tasks on your to do list, the list of after-school activities your child has been signed up for.
Take a moment to reflect on these things. Are they adding value to your life in some way? Do they make you feel good? Do they enhance your enjoyment or fulfilment in life?
Or, are they sapping your energy, causing you anxiety or frustration?
A minimalist lifestyle is about a life of intention. Asking why before you say yes, gently reminding yourself to create breathing room in your calendar, your heart, your mind.
And, asking yourself why before you:
- waste money you don’t have
- chase dreams that don’t align with your goals or vice versa
- make friends with people who bring you down
- get sucked into habits that aren’t good for you, and
- spend your days in a way that you wouldn’t want to spend your life.
Minimalism is about intentionality and the power of choice. Your choice.
3. Minimalism is about keeping it real
A minimalist lifestyle might seem unrealistic, unattainable, unapproachable and far removed from how many of us navigate through a busy, challenging life.
After all, those bare white walls, perfectly curated closets and starkly designed homes don’t accommodate our complicated and sometimes messy lives.
But then, that’s not what minimalism is really about.
Minimalism is actually just a way of trying to find calm out of clutter, peace out of chaos, space out of stress and a gentler, more freedom-filled life with more time and flexibility for what matters.
I don’t like labels but sometimes a label can be helpful in guiding us back home.
The label of minimalism serves to remind us of the principles we can follow to find another way, a more purposeful way. A realistic way to enjoy life and be grateful for what we have already, build on it and stop chasing and comparing with what we don’t have but think we still need or want anyway.
Minimalism isn’t some inaccessible life just for those with everything and who have the luxury of choice to choose less.
Minimalism is for everyone who just wants better for themselves and their loved ones and is keen to explore a fresh perspective. And, of course, it might even mean you save some money and paint a wall white along the way but that’s up to you!
4. Minimalism isn’t the only way
I’m a minimalist but I’m not an extreme minimalist. I follow a gentle, compassionate minimalism which suits myself and my family. I have stuff in my attic, a few too many mugs in my cupboard and I’m married to a man who loves stuff.
As much as I love the benefits of a minimalist lifestyle and am passionate about sharing my story and the tips I’ve learnt along the way, I also appreciate that minimalism isn’t the only way.
Decluttering a closet won’t make you a minimalist. Letting go of some extra throws and cushions and clearing your tabletops won’t make your home minimalist.
It will help your home to feel more spacious, more calm, more peaceful and perhaps more inviting.
Minimalism has given me a benchmark and guiding light to focus my mind on how less can be more. It’s enabled me to grow, create, breathe, enjoy, relax and juggle the demands and opportunities of busy family life. However, there are many other ways you can do this too, minimalist or not.
Journaling, hobbies, exercise, friendships, volunteering, education, training, meditation and travel are just a few other ways you can find purpose and contentment in life.
However, what minimalism does give you is the time, space and freedom to weave these things into your life and remind you to revisit them when busy life is pulling you away from what you love the most.
5. Start backwards
Instead of deciding to become minimalist, a great way to explore why and how minimalism could work for you is to actually start backwards.
Take a few moments to think about your life now.
- What does your schedule and your days say about you?
- What are your priorities? What do you want out of life?
- What lifts you up and brings joy to your heart?
- What makes you feel excited, happy and fulfilled?
Make a list of these things and next to them write down what you need to have in your home, your time and your life to make these things happen and honour them regularly? There’s a free worksheet you can download at the end of this article to help you.
Then look around your home, in your schedule and back over the last week, month or year. Do these aspects of your life afford you the space, time and freedom to do the things that you want to do?
If not, why not?
Go back to the idea that minimalism is about intention. What supports you in life vs what holds you back?
Get rid of the excess stuff, carve out some free time in your schedule, build healthy habits that support you every day and prioritise the things you wrote in your list a few moments ago.
Let minimalism find its own way into your head and your heart. Don’t force it. If it’s right for you then it will be a natural path you enjoy discovering.
If it’s not right for you, I still hope you might learn something from exploring it!
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS IN THE COMMENTS
I’d love to know what you feel about the minimalist lifestyle. Did you enjoy these gentle reminders about minimalism? Is it something you’ve been wanting to explore or do you find the term off-putting? I do believe everyone can benefit from some of the lessons that minimalism teaches us, even if you don’t reach the point of wanting to become minimalist. What do you think? I’d love to hear from you so please leave a comment below!
MORE RESOURCES ON MINIMALISM AND THE MINIMALIST LIFESTYLE
Here are a few resources on minimalism and the minimalist lifestyle to help explain more about the benefits of living with less: