Spring heralds the promise of new beginnings and fresh starts. It provides the impetus to reflect and ask how can we be happier, freer and more fulfilled. The achievement of these and more are usually not done through being and having more, but rather with less.
As we strip away the excess and clutter, we have more space, mentally, emotionally and physically, to live the life we are meant to live. By living more simply but fully, we will make space for what’s most essential to our happiness and that brings us the most value.
Buoyed by the optimism of Spring, it would be quite tempting to make a resolution to become a minimalist and adopt a simpler life overnight in one fell swoop. But simple living is a set of habits and hoping to do it all at once in all areas of one’s life is admirable, but more likely to set oneself up for failure.
So it might be more effective and successful to start small; focus on a few things and turn them into habits. Once they become a part of your routine, you will simplify your life and create the space for what’s essential to your happiness.
1. Focus on the essentials.
Set aside a quiet time and ask yourself honestly “Who are the people and what are the things that are essential to your happiness?” These are the people and things (physical belongings, activities, experiences) that you cannot live without. Put these essential people and things on a list and resolve to focus the bulk of your time and resources on them. They are your priority.
2. Live with only what adds joy or value.
Before buying anything, ask if it adds joy and or value to your life and if you really need it. Ask the same question of the things you own and the relationships and activities that you have in your life.
Questioning our purchases and possessions will make us more mindful and conscious of our consumption; reducing our clutter and saving us money in the process. Evaluating our relationships and commitments will help us invest our time and resources on people and activities that inspire, energize and contribute to our growth and happiness.
3. Make time for yourself.
You are the most important person in your life. If you are not happy or well, you can’t offer anyone else the happiness and care they deserve. So prioritize your own well-being. Make time to be on your own and find space for some peace and quiet. You can do that through meditation or cooking while others rejuvenate through a brisk walk or a run. Do whatever that works for you to find peace and calmness and help regain your balance and energy.
4. Clear some space.
This could be your mental, emotional or physical space or all three. Clearing space provides peace and calmness. It also clears away the “clutter” that has been inhibiting and holding back your life. In their place, what gives you joy, growth and value will have the space to enter and flourish. Take it one step at a time but start with something.
Is your schedule packed and leaving you with little time for yourself and loved ones? Clear away a few non-essential commitments. Busyness is overrated. Is there someone in your life that drains your energy and tends to put you down? Is it helpful to have this person in your life? Probably not. So surround yourself with people who encourage and empower you.
Does a kitchen table or worktop or your study desk cause you stress and effort with the amount of stuff on them? Try decluttering and tidying one space at a time and keep it clear.
I’m sure it’ll make you feel calmer and in control; making your work more enjoyable and productive. In clearing a space and decluttering your stuff, always ask “does this add joy and value to my life?” If yes, keep. If no, discard or pass it on to someone else who needs it more than you do.
5. Learn to say “No.”
We are social animals, and we hate to be left out and we hate to disappoint. So we say “yes” to the latest set of consumables; we say “yes” to commitments not because we enjoy them but because we are obliged to; we say “yes” to people not because we enjoy being with them but because we are afraid to be alone.
Sometimes, saying “no” is the hardest word. But if we want to reclaim our time, our resources and our life for what really matters to us, we have to learn to say “no” and say it often. It might be awkward and difficult at first, but then it becomes liberating. And that is a good and unforgettable feeling!
Curious or inspired about living a minimalist life but not sure how? Do check out Live Well With Less for help and inspiration. You can also download a free copy of the beautifully crafted “A Minimalist Life: Roadmap” and get a copy of “A Minimalist Life—Make Space for the Good and the Extraordinary.”