WHAT IS SO GREAT ABOUT MINIMALISM: A PERSONAL PERSPECTIVE
Minimalism might be a popular reaction to today’s busy world, but there are mixed messages about what the minimalist lifestyle involves. In this article, I’d like to share my own personal perspective on what is so great about minimalism and the value and benefits of simplifying life.
MINIMALISM AS A LIFESTYLE
I thought it might be helpful to answer some questions about minimalism every now and then that I see on the internet.
Minimalism gets a bad name sometimes and there are many myths about minimalism which causes confusion and mixed messages.
Actually, the more I learn and the more I practice a minimalist lifestyle myself, the more I’m reminded that minimalism isn’t about your stuff, it’s about yourself.
I’m guessing you came across my site because you’re interested in decluttering and simplifying your life. Maybe you’d like to find a way to ease the stress, have less to worry about and more time on your side for what you WANT to do, not just what you HAVE to do?
This is where a minimalist lifestyle can help. And, it’s got very little to do with your stuff, bare white walls and having so few possessions that they’d fit in a back pack.
That’s why minimalism (or, in this case the minimalist lifestyle) is not about your stuff… it’s about your life. Put it another way, it’s about your inner environment, not your outer environment.
“This is the beautiful secret of minimalism: It may seem like it’s about stuff, but once you’ve cut through the clutter and adopted a new frame of mind, you learn that it’s barely about ‘the stuff’ at all.” (Erica Layne)
WHAT IS MINIMALISM
Minimalism is about the stuff you own and the clutter in your life. But it’s also a way of encouraging you to think about what you own and why you own it.
To me, minimalism is a lifestyle that makes me think about what adds value to my home and to my life and to consciously make space for other things in life (which aren’t necessarily material possessions) but which I value more – family, friendships, time, goals, skills – for a meaningful life.
Minimalism can be about your stuff and that’s why decluttering your home is a popular first step towards living a minimalist life. Minimalists tend to have less stuff.
Going beyond that though, the definition of minimalism is open to interpretation.
My definition (with a busy young family) might be different to somebody else’s definition of minimalism if they live on their own. I could never live with little furniture or just enough possessions to fit in a back-pack. In fact, I’m the only ‘minimalist’ in my house. My family isn’t so on board with the idea of minimalism and my husband is a complete hoarder.
I’ve found a form of minimalism that suits my family and my lifestyle. It’s not centred around living with a set number of objects, or never having a pile of paperwork left out on my kitchen counter.
But, it is gentle, compassionate and heart-centred, and that’s the message I try to share here on Balance Through Simplicity.
My family aside though, I still consider myself to be a true minimalist and minimalism is as unique as you and I.
The thread that weaves through this is that minimalism is about defining what’s important to you, what makes your life meaningful vs what just clutters, distracts and removes you from that life. Minimalism is about being aware of these things and making decisions every day that value the important and keeps out the unimportant (as far as possible that is, with the challenges of everyday life!).
You could say that minimalism is great because:
- It makes the home easier to keep clean and tidy.
- It might mean you spend less money despite being tempted by sales and marketing tactics (plenty of minimalists spend money, maybe just in other ways – experiences and consumables, rather than just more stuff).
But, my reason for thinking that minimalism is great, is that it encourages self-reflection and self-growth.
- I define what’s important (and also ask myself why it’s important)
- I stop focusing on buying more, doing more, achieving more, getting more (and focus on what I have already and being grateful for it) and instead focus on finding simplicity in life
- I clear my mind of clutter (negative thoughts, limiting beliefs, distractions, too many things to do and remember) and focus on what’s important – new skills, learning, people, memories
All of this is easier without a cluttered home, racking up debt because I’m shopping too much, comparing my life and home with what others have got in their life and home.
Over the years I learnt that minimalism isn’t going to make life perfect, but if you explore it beyond just how much stuff you own, then minimalism can make life meaningful.
You might like this article for another explanation of minimalism.
THE BENEFITS OF MINIMALISM
Minimalism has many benefits as a lifestyle. We’ve touched on some of them already in this article. However, I feel the greatest benefits to me and my life have been freedom – time freedom, personal freedom and freedom from my To Do list and chores.
I’m a busy working parent with a busy family and busy home. Decluttering and simplifying my home and life will only reach so far. I can’t get rid of my work, my kids(!) or the different pulls on my time and energy. They come with the general rewards and obstacles of daily life and adulthood.
The minimalist lifestyle has encouraged me to think about my days, my life, my diary, my eating habits, relationships, bank account, priorities and other aspects of my life in a different way.
Instead of winging it through life, blindly following the herd instead of my heart, I now find courage to do my own thing, instead of what busy, modern life expects of me.
You could say that a minimalist approach to life has made me more aware of:
- What’s important
- What I need and want
- The impact my choices, actions and decisions have, and
- That I want a meaningful life, not just a life where I struggle through each day only to do the same exact thing tomorrow.
Again, as I repeat often on my blog, this doesn’t mean that minimalism is the solution to all problems and that life is easy or perfect. Life still has struggles and challenges and days where it all goes a bit pear-shaped and you hope for a better tomorrow.
But, a minimalist lifestyle is a more conscious and aware one.
- Don’t just accept things, question why?
- Don’t buy things just because you’re bored, explore WHY you’re bored?
- Don’t hide behind your stuff, what are you hiding from?
- Don’t let clutter build up, what does that clutter hold over you?
These are just some of the questions it might be worth asking yourself if your life (or mind) feels cluttered.
They might help you understand why minimalism is so great and what it can help you learn about yourself.
MINIMALISM IN OTHER AREAS OF LIFE
Minimalism has benefitted my life in so many areas. I’d like to touch on some of them here as more reasons why minimalist is so great.
- Minimalism and time management – Minimalism and good time management share many parallels. As a busy working parent my time is precious and free time is even more so. Being productive, effective and getting the right things done are essential. Being a minimalist has helped me work smarter, not harder and be strategic without ‘doing all the things’.
- Minimalism and a calm home environment – My home used to be busy, chaotic and noisy with young kids, toys and family bustle. I since found most of my family benefit from a calmer, more peaceful home. Minimalism has helped me create a calm home in many ways.
- Minimalism and motherhood – Kids bring clutter and chaos and we probably wouldn’t have it any other way! However, as a parent, I know I need a little peace and quiet sometimes! Minimalism has helped me strike a happy balance between my own needs and those of my children.
- Minimalism and chores – A clutter-free home is easier to clean. Read this article on minimalist cleaning routines and how to spend less time cleaning.
These are just a few examples of minimalism in other areas of life. You’ll find more tips and ideas in these articles on minimalism.
As you’ll discover, minimalism isn’t just about your stuff (or lack of it) and that’s what is so great about minimalism. It has far-reaching effects, not just about how many pairs of shoes you own or the number of whisks in your kitchen drawer!
“I’ve found that the less stuff I own, the less my stuff owns me.” (Nathan W. Morris)
Here are some other reasons why minimalism is so great, big and small:
- I have a tidier home office
- I focus more on personal growth
- I’ve created a regular gratitude practice to focus more on what I have instead of chasing what I don’t
- It’s quicker and easier to get dressed each day (one less decision)
- I start my day intentionally
- I eat healthier
- I set meaningful goals that matter
- I need less storage space
- I am more organised
- I have better relationships
- I can think more clearly and am less distracted
The list goes on…
Minimalism might not benefit you in all these ways but I think there’s value for all of us in exploring minimalism as a way of simplifying our life and reconnecting with ourself.
LEARN MORE ABOUT MINIMALISM
If you’d like to explore minimalism for yourself and learn more about how to live a minimalist lifestyle, then here are some resources you might like:
- Minimalist lifestyle tips – How to embrace minimalist living every day
- The minimalist mindset – How to think like a minimalist
- Powerful and unexpected benefits of minimalism
- How to become a minimalist – 7 easy ways to start
- 20 reasons to own less stuff
HOW TO BE A MINIMALIST
I hope you enjoyed this article or at the very least it gave you some food for thought.
Many people become minimalist by first clearing their clutter. Decluttering your home is a great place to start. You can begin to think about what adds value to your life and make some decluttering decisions about what to keep and what to get rid of.
Those decisions become easier with practice as you build confidence.
From there, you might find you make a series of small but deliberate daily decisions over what clutters your schedule, your mind, your home and so on.
You might like this article on how to declutter your home and life for some more tips, or this article on 11 things to do before you start to declutter to help get you prepared and in the right mindset.
And lastly, if you’re really not sure whether minimalism is right for you, take a look at these 3 gentle things to try – nothing too extreme, just little steps to help clear clutter and define what’s important.
WHAT IS SO GREAT ABOUT MINIMALISM?
So, in answer to the original question about what is so great about minimalism, I hope I’ve shared some useful thoughts. When I was first starting out on my own minimalist journey, I came across a quote from Joshua Becker of becomingminimalist.com.
“Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from it.”
This definition of minimalism still resonates with me today as a constant reminder of why I choose more life over less stuff.
“Clutter is not just the stuff on your floor, it’s anything that stands between you and the life you want to be living.” (Peter Walsh)
To learn more about simplified living and how to declutter your home and simplify your life, try these 20 ways to simplify your life as a starting point and this article on how to be intentional every day.
GET STARTED WITH MINIMALISM TODAY
If you’d like to declutter your home, heart, schedule and mind with some simple, baby steps, try my free Declutter Starter Kit. It’s a free guide and workbook to help you clear clutter from your life and keep it away.
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