DOES MINIMALISM MAKE YOU HAPPIER? SIMPLICITY AND HAPPINESS
Minimalism has many benefits but does minimalism make you happier? Is there a relationship between simplicity and happiness? In this article I’m sharing my own personal perspective on whether minimalism can make us happier and, in some cases, why it can’t.
DOES MINIMALISM MAKE YOU HAPPIER?
I wanted to write an article about what a difference a minimalist life has made to me. If you don’t like the ‘minimalist’ label, then I encourage you to still keep reading. You can switch the term ‘minimalist’ or ‘minimalism’ for a decluttered and simplified life, if that feels more comfortable.
When I was recently researching minimalism on the internet, one of the questions that people searched for was this…
“Does minimalism make you happier?”
I thought I’d share my personal perspective on this question to see if it might help you decide for yourself whether minimalism could make you happier too.
DEFINITION OF MINIMALISM
The minimalist lifestyle is a conscious and aware one, of the stuff that clutters and distracts you from living a meaningful life. When so much of modern-day life is filled with things to do, buy, achieve, plan, remember, strive for and tick off on those lists, a minimalist life encourages us to question the norm.
- Do I really need more stuff to make my home feel like home?
- Do I need to buy that stuff because I really need that item in my home and in my life?
- Do I need to chase for that flashier car, bigger home or exotic holiday?
- Do I hold onto things because they make me feel safe or because they help me take comfort in remembering the past?
- Do I want more in my life or do I actually want better of my life?
WHY MINIMALISM MATTERS
Many people don’t ask these questions.
- Either they don’t feel the need to ask them in the first place because life is ticking along just fine, until it’s not.
- Or, perhaps they don’t want to face up to the answers and the reasons why we need the extra stuff and padding in our life.
- Sometimes, like what happened to me, we just get swept along with life. Stuff piles up without us noticing, until that stuff starts to weigh heavy on our space, heart and mind.
Life stripped of this stuff and padding might feel empty on the surface…
Until you realise what minimalism is really all about and why it matters.
Minimalism matters because it stops us focusing on material possessions and instead invites us to focus inwards – on the people, memories, experiences, feelings, mindsets, skills, learning, opportunities and passions that add true meaning to our lives.
Minimalism in real life doesn’t mean going without, never buying anything new, having no furniture, or being bland, boring, dull or any of the adjectives you might have heard.
What minimalism (or simplifying) does mean is that you have time, space, freedom, energy, flexibility and vigour for filling your life with things that have meaning. Things that make you feel happy and grateful to live YOUR life, not somebody else’s. And, definitely, not a life where you’re hiding behind, or buried under your clutter.
These are the things that you often don’t find when you look at what’s stuffed in your cupboards and filling up your To Do list.
Minimalism makes space for the best of you and your life.
DEFINITION OF HAPPINESS
According to verywellmind.com, happiness is an emotional state characterised by feelings of joy, satisfaction, contentment, and fulfilment.
They identify some of the key signs of happiness as:
- Feeling contented
- Feeling more positive than negative
- Feeling satisfied
- Feeling accomplished
- Feeling that you are living the life you wanted
So, does make minimalism make you happier? Well, if these are some of the ways that we can define happiness then from my own personal experience, I’d say yes!
THE BENEFITS OF MINIMALISM
Here are some of the benefits I’ve noticed since becoming minimalist (or since I began decluttering and simplifying my life).
1. More time
I spend less time cleaning and managing the stuff in my home, because I have less stuff and clutter to sort, clear and clean. This means I have more time to enjoy my home rather than worrying about the state of it.
2. Less stress
Research shows the correlation between clutter and stress. Less stuff to worry about and more time on my hands means less stress. I’m not struggling to keep up with my home and my life. My outer environment is calmer which means my inner environment (my body and mind) is calmer too.
3. More financial freedom
I go shopping and buy things but I spend mindfully and wisely. I avoid getting into debt, spending more than I have and I don’t have multiple credit or store cards to tempt me to overspend.
4. More flexibility
Our schedules can be cluttered like our homes, but removing the things that don’t feel right has created more time and more wiggle room. Streamlining my diary, blocking out free time, taking care over choosing activities and accepting invitations have all helped me find time for what matters instead of what just wears me out.
5. More gratitude
Look at your life from a different perspective. Instead of wishing you had more or different, minimalism encourages you to re-assess what you have already. It just depends on what it is that you’re needing. Is it more shoes, more gadgets, or is it more time, peace or love? Gratitude is a powerful mindset that changes how you perceive ‘enough’ in your life.
6. More in tune with my needs
When my time is less over-booked and I have less pulls on my time and brain, then I can actually listen to my body and what it needs. I’m more aware of what I’m feeling and why, and I have space and flexibility to make any changes I need.
I think this benefit of minimalism is also vital if you have extra challenges in life. This could be older age, ill health, mid-life menopause, financial worries, mental health struggles or the difficulties of neurodivergency such as ADHD. Minimalism gives space and freedom to find what works for you in life, without judgement or pressure.
7. More practiced in saying no
Saying no is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it becomes. Far from being selfish, or standoffish, or ungrateful, no is a powerful word to help you create and nurture strong boundaries – for your time, home, family, mental health and more.
8. More understanding of what I want from life
If you’re deciding what to keep and what to get rid of, you need to start by understanding what you want from life. How else do you know what deserves a space and place in your home and life? So often, we power through life not really checking to see if we’re going in the direction we hoped. Minimalism forces you to check your navigation! You can check your navigation here.
9. More understanding of what matters
And, with all the above, comes a greater understanding of what matters. To you, to those you love. Avoid a life of regrets, of what if’s and if only’s. Choose life over stuff, what matters to you instead of what matters to everyone else.
MINIMALISM IS NOT ABOUT YOUR STUFF
Although the common perception is that minimalism is about getting rid of stuff, I think many of the benefits I’ve just mentioned aren’t really to do with stuff at all.
They’re about space, time, freedom, flexibility, personal growth, doing more of what we want and less of what we don’t and finding ways to make everyday life that little bit easier with a lot more direction and awareness.
Getting rid of stuff is an element of minimalism but it’s by no means the only part. Minimalism is not about your stuff, it’s about finding yourself in amongst that stuff.
A QUESTION OF APPROACH
Minimalism has changed my life in so many ways for the better. As a busy working parent, it’s easier to manage my home, work, kids and life. Minimalism has made motherhood easier and more enjoyable for me.
I can get the house clean and tidy in minutes, we have routines in place to makes things run like clockwork and I have more time for taking care of myself. Minimalist cleaning routines make me happier!
I have more energy and time to focus on what’s important – my family, my health and enjoy trying new things, learning new skills and having fun. Life isn’t always meant to be serious!
I’m definitely more content, more at ease, more satisfied and more content with my life now than when it was overstretched and overstuffed.
Does minimalism make you happier? I think the answer is largely down to how you apply it.
If I decided to remove all my furniture, limit my family to a certain number of belongings each, never go shopping, throw out the TV or my daughter’s prized collection of rocks or anything totally extreme, then minimalism would probably be a disaster for my family. It just wouldn’t be realistic and there would be many more negatives than positives.
How you choose to make minimalism work for you, the approach you take, is the key. And, of course, remembering why you wanted to try minimalism in the first place.
It’s not about your stuff, it’s about being clear on what you want from life and creating space (in all its shapes and forms to make that happen).
DOES MINIMALISM MAKE YOU HAPPIER?
If you asked me the question of whether minimalism makes me happier, it’s a resounding yes. I have less stress, more ease, peace and joy in my life. I can be present for the things that are most important to me – my children, my family.
Perhaps it might help to turn the question around slightly. What would make you happy? Is it the car, the shoes, the gadgets or is it more freedom, more time, less hassle, more experiences, more memories? Less chasing, less comparing, less trying to do all the things, less burning the candle at both ends only to burn yourself out in the process?
A minimalist lifestyle can help you create time for what matters.
So, does minimalism make you happier?
If minimalism is about creating space for a meaningful life, then yes. If it’s just because you want to clear a few cupboards and leave it at that, then probably not.
The answer really depends on what you want to achieve at the end of it. Try these gentle reminders about minimalism for a little recap.
HOW TO GET STARTED WITH MINIMALISM
If this article has made you curious about the minimalist lifestyle and you’d like to try it for yourself, here are some helpful resources:
- What is so great about minimalism – a personal perspective
- Unexpected and life-changing benefits of minimalism
- How to become a minimalist – 7 easy ways to start today
- Minimalism lifestyle tips – how to embrace minimalism every day
- A helpful guide to the minimalist lifestyle
- Simplify Your Life – a simplicity workbook to help you begin to clear clutter from your life
YOUR NEXT STEP…
Take a step towards a decluttered and simplified life for yourself by clearing clutter. Pop your details in the box below to get your free Declutter Guide and Workbook so you can get started right away!
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I’m Antonia and on this blog I share practical inspiration to simplify your home, time and life. Follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest! You can also subscribe to Balance Through Simplicity and receive regular simplicity tips straight to your inbox for free. Make sure you never miss an article plus you’ll get a copy of my free Declutter Starter Kit as a welcome gift!