For some of us, the word “minimalism” brings to mind images of stark, empty rooms and barren shelves. For others, the idea of being a minimalist might stir ideas of a spotless living room and a perfectly-organized refrigerator.
But minimalism is about so much more than decluttering! In reality, the minimalist lifestyle goes much deeper, and can provide a mental clarity many of us could really use.
Because minimalism gets thrown around in pop culture a lot (hello, Marie Kondo), you may be wondering what minimalism really is, and how to actually become a minimalist. Not to worry – this guide to minimalism will teach you everything you need to know about how to be more of a minimalist.
What Is Minimalism?
At its core, minimalism is about simplicity. If you’ve heard the phrase “less is more,” that should give you a pretty good sense of the term!
While minimalism started out as an artistic trend in painting, literature and music, it has since become a lifestyle trend devoted to living a simple life, both materially and mentally.
It’s more than just a trend though (no matter how good those Instagrams of aesthetically-organized shelves look!).
Minimalism is a lifestyle tool that helps you live without distraction, using only things that provide you with purpose.
While many may believe minimalism is about not owning things, in reality, it’s more about consciously owning things. Minimalism helps us by providing a toolset for deliberate, conscientious decision-making when it comes to your home, your closet, and most-importantly, your life!
So, Why Learn How to Be Minimalist?
As I’ve hinted at above, minimalism provides many benefits, including mental and environmental benefits you may not have considered. First, learning how to be a minimalist will help you cut down on your possessions. This can help you create an uncluttered home, find much-needed space in your life, and save money!
Second, minimalism can help provide mental clarity. By getting rid of the things that don’t provide purpose to you, you can focus on the things that really matter.
In fact, a 2020 study found minimalists generally experience higher levels of autonomy, awareness and positive emotions in general.
Lastly, minimalism can also help you live more sustainably. By reducing the amount of things you purchase, you help reduce emissions and waste that comes from producing goods in the first place.
Here Is Your Guide to Minimalism
Now that you know what minimalism is and what its benefits are, you might be wondering: how can I become a minimalist? After all, while living simply may sound good, we know it takes more than a single run to Goodwill to really embrace minimalism (don’t panic – that’s a good start).
Minimalists generally experience higher levels of autonomy, awareness and positive emotions in general.
It doesn’t take too much to learn how to be minimalist. In fact, this guide to minimalism can be broken down into two main phases: the Cut Down phase and the Chill Out phase.
1. The Cut Down
In this phase, your main goal is to declutter. Why? Because decluttering helps you simplify your life and learn the mental tools of minimalism while you’re at it.
The most important part is to start easy. There’s no need to go through all your most sentimental keepsakes first. Instead, ease in slowly. Start with a single room. What can you see out around you? Start there.
For each item in the room, you can ask yourself whether you really need it. This question sounds simple but can be very difficult to answer. Questions to ask yourself about each item might be:
- How do I use it, and how often?
- What purpose is this fulfilling for me?
- If I got rid of this, would I need a replacement?
- Why am I attached to this item?
The goal of these questions, and the “cut down” phase in general, is to end up with only the essentials.
The good news is there are no hard and fast rules to minimalism – you get to define what “essential” means to you. And if you don’t deem an item essential, it can go in the recycling, trash, or donation pile.
Minimalism gets easier the more you practice.
After you’ve gone through everything you can see around you, you can begin going through drawers or closets, and start tackling the more difficult questions.
Remember, sometimes it can take time and practice to become ready to get rid of items you hold dear. While you never need to get rid of anything, know minimalism does get easier the more practice you have.
Want more help? Read: Get Rid of These 25 Things to Declutter Your Life
2. The Chill Out
This phase is all about maintaining your minimalist lifestyle and reaping its mental benefits. After you’ve decluttered your home down to the essentials, you can chill out – and by “chill out” I mean relax. After all, how can you be a minimalist if you feel the (very common) urge to keep buying?
Even after cutting down on your personal belongings, it can be tricky to “just say no” to the one extra dress or sports bra you just have to have.
By practicing the initial decluttering in every room in your house, you’ll begin to think more deeply about what you really need.
Decluttering helps you distinguish between the details of life that matter less and what’s truly important to you.
Use these values to help you maintain that minimalist lifestyle. For example, to avoid “re-cluttering” your home, use the questions above to assess any new purchases you’re considering.
If you must buy something new, make sure not only that it’s something you really need, but also that it’s something that will last. For example, if you’re buying a new pair of yoga leggings, make sure they are quality before you buy them.
This will not only save you money in the long run, but will help you avoid having to consume more (like having to buy another pair when they wear out in six months).
Key Takeaways In Your Guide to Minimalism
Ultimately, living a minimalist lifestyle is all about cutting down and as a result, being able to chill out.
Start by cutting down on your belongings. Decluttering will not only provide you with clarity on what you truly value, but will also free up mental space (and actual time normally spent cleaning!) that can be devoted to the most important things in your life.
At its core, minimalism is about creating a simpler lifestyle so you can achieve freedom to focus on what really matters.
Did any of these minimalist ideas resonate with you? Get started with the steps in this guide to minimalism and let us know how it impacts you! Please share with us in the comments below – we love hearing from you!