Many people are seeking to live a life with less. But what exactly is minimalism? Put simply, minimalism is a way of living that’s focused on experiences while purging life of unnecessary possessions and commitments. While there is a wide variety of reasons to transition to a minimalist lifestyle, these are three that seem to be common among the community as whole.
It’s better for your wallet
If there is one single reason minimalism would motivate just about anyone, it would be that it saves massive amounts of hard earned cash. After you decide to cut out unnecessary expenses and stop wasting money on things you don’t really need, you’ll find that the amount of money that can be saved is astounding.
In today’s world, we have an overabundance of convenience. One can easily buy anything they want, from anywhere in the world at the click of a mouse. This, combined with constant advertisements for the latest iPhone, car or the latest fashion trend, has created an epidemic of people wasting money on junk that doesn’t really bring them joy. It has become far too easy to impulsively buy things without even having to leave home, ever lowering the bar for financial recklessness.
The most prominent example of this is when one upgrades their phone just because there is a newer version. Doing so is a massive waste of both money and resources. Unless the phone is broken or defective, there is absolutely no point in replacing it.
By lowering the bar for financial freedom, minimalism can also help take unneeded pressure off of the workforce and allow people to work less or choose a more fulfilling job. This would help vast swathes of overworked people slow down and get back to focusing on what matters most to them in life.
People have a tendency to think that physical possessions will make them happier. While it is true that there are some items that can bring joy to our lives, I would argue that “things” are quite overrated as opposed to experiences.
The principle is quite simple: buy less junk, save more money.
It’s better for the planet
Another great reason to give minimalism a shot is that it is so much better on the planet. Everything we own, from clothing to computers to toothbrushes, took energy, resources and possibly, unethical treatment of workers just so these could be produced and delivered to us. Every physical item has some form of carbon footprint to it, in addition to plastic packaging. By making do with the items we have, buying things second-hand or borrowing them from others, the impact made on the planet drops significantly.
It may seem daunting at first, but many physical items can be rented or borrowed as opposed to buying them. Libraries are great for enjoying films without wasting massive amounts of plastic on DVDs and there are often digital replacements for all kinds of media.
It would do a lot of good for people to get back into the attitude of “use it until you lose it.”
We should start to truly take full advantage of the possessions around us and use them to their full potential before spending additional time, money and resources producing new products. This means keeping your current phone until it breaks, your clothes until they wear out, and your car until it breaks down. There is no reason to toss items into the trash simply because they are only “good enough.”
It would certainly help for the world to start truly appreciating the true physical value of items and not the status hierarchy that has built around wealth. Our consumerist world has been designed to waste massive amounts of resources and create swathes of pollution as a result of an endless desire for more “things.” If we would realize the value of a circular waste system that recycles and repairs broken products, the planet would be much better off.
It adds focus
The final and most personal reason to try minimalism is that it gives added focus to what matters in life. Everyday we are faced with distractions from all sides in the form of endless commitments, toxic people, and advertisements for the latest product. Minimalism is the perfect way to cut out what doesn’t matter to us and focus only on what’s been left behind.
This doesn’t only apply to physical items. It can come in the form of changing one’s career to focus on pursuing what they love most, ending harmful relationships or reducing the amount of time spent scrolling through social media. After taking the time to ruthlessly remove those useless things that come with living in our modern world, there will be a newfound sense of appreciation for the things that have been preserved.
Becoming a minimalist forces us to analyze why things are a part of our lives, why they are useful to us, and why they bring us joy. It’s a great form of soul searching and allows one to learn a lot about who they are and what they value. The process is very personal, often looking far different from person to person.
Minimalism allows us to pursue the things that truly make us happy in life without the distraction and inefficiency of having thousands of things demanding for our time, money, and attention. It has the potential to make this overwhelming world seem much more livable and allow us to relax and be happier now that we’ve cut away the things that never truly mattered to us in the first place.
Keeping these reasons in mind, minimalism looks different for everyone. There is no right or wrong reason to clean up the clutter and distraction in life and there is no right or wrong way to go about it. Many people do it to save money while others give it a try to learn more about themselves and challenge their view of the world.
Check out self-help author Mark Manson’s blog for additional resources on how to explore a minimal lifestyle. You may also find Break the Twitch just as helpful. To embark on this undertaking, patience is also crucial. Like fitness or building a career, minimalism is a personal journey that takes a great deal of thought and time to fully reap its benefits.