On the surface, the thought of being a minimalist seems quite simple. All you need to do is be frugal with your spending, live within your means, throw away (or donate) everything you don’t need and move into a tiny house.
What I just described is a stereotype that many have placed upon minimalism for some time. I confess that I’ve been guilty of this mindset myself, and it got to a point where I judged folks who claimed to be minimalists.
Ignorance is typically never a good thing, and in my case it certainly wasn’t. The problem with our society these days is that we have a tendency to judge on assumptions and (mis)conceived notions.
As I began to investigate the idea of minimalism, I quickly became intrigued, because there was a part of me that resonated with the lifestyle I was looking into. The idea that less could be more and living without brings a life of joy was appealing to me.
I came to the conclusion that while being a minimalist is partly what I described above, it’s also more than that. In fact, it’s a lot more than that. A couple of fellas known as The Minimalists agree with me. Here’s what they say:
“But people who dismiss minimalism as some sort of fad usually mention any of the above ‘restrictions’ as to why they could ‘never be a minimalist.’ Minimalism isn’t about any of those things, but it can help you accomplish them.”
They go further with a better explanation of what they think it means:
“Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important — so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.”
But just like working out and staying healthy, it’s something that requires ongoing effort and a fundamental knowledge of how it should be maintained. We all have different living styles and needs within that, so for each of us the idea of being a minimalist looks different.
For some that might mean purging a bunch of stuff from their lives, and for some it might be just a slow progression of doing smaller things. Either way this is a decision and a journey we should embark on daily, rather than one time.
Here are five things to consider that will help keep you on track:
1. Practice thankfulness.
Recent studies have shown that those of us who are regularly thankful and appreciative for the good in their lives are likely to be more physically active, feel more content in our day-to-day lives and suffer less health problems. Once a day, spend ten minutes writing down 5-10 people/acts/events/things you are grateful for, and just one sentence per entry is enough.
2. Write down your goals.
Why do you want to live a simpler life? What do you crave about it? You need to know the answers before you can make headway. What do you want from this change? Where do you feel the greatest need to slow down and simplify? What do you stand to gain? Write down your strengths and your weaknesses, and try to identify what challenges will you face and what circumstances will make this process hard for you.
3. Create white space in your home.
White space allows us to highlight the breathing space in our surroundings, and it helps in fluid eye movement. It also gives an air of flexibility to the environment. Choose one surface — one wall, one shelf, the mantle, your bedside table, and declutter it to create white space. Remove everything from that one space. Wipe the surface clean and leave it completely empty.
4. Give yourself quiet time or meditation.
Quiet time and meditation brings perspective and peace, and leaves you feeling grounded and well-prepared for the day. Plunge in your immediate surroundings, actively think about what means the most to you, and treat yourself with some much needed me time so that you are better able to perform your daily tasks. It doesn’t have to be more than 10 minutes per day, just sit down at a quiet place and reflect. This will help put your mind at ease and you will be able to make informed decisions during the day.
5. Unplug your digital devices.
Unplug your laptops, smartphones and tablets and see how liberating that feels. You need time to think and create yourself, and while these tools can be vehemently helpful in this regard, their overuse may cut you off from your real life and make you believe that your virtual life is everything. So unplug your gadgets, at least once a day for a small period of time, and then extend that time period as your dependency on technology decreases.
An Uncluttered Life
At the very core, our manifesto “Design a Simple Life” is built upon the same principals as that of Joshua Becker and Becoming Minimalist. His mission is to inspire others to pursue their greatest passions by owning fewer possessions.
On January 1st of 2016, he launched Uncluttered: A 12-week online course with videos, interviews, webinars, articles, weekly challenges, accountability, and community. Strategically packaged for one purpose: To help you unclutter your home, own less stuff, and find space to live the life you want.
Here are four things he will teach along the way:
1. Know your why’s.
Find your motivation to declutter. Write it down. And use it to remind yourself daily why this is important.
2. Change your home.
Over the course of 8 weeks, we will declutter every major lived-in area of your home through weekly challenges.
3. Develop new habits.
This course will help you not only remove the clutter from your home, but keep it under control into the future.
4. Experiment with less.
With interactive experiments created by you, we will test our assumptions on how much we truly need.
Take Action Now
At No Sidebar, we believe a minimalist mindset is a daily choice, and one done best in a community of other like-minded individuals. To hear stories and to be inspired by others is such a wonderful experience, and we encourage you to be a part of something amazing. I’ve signed up, and I’d love to see you there!