“A minimalist home is very intentional,” Joshua Becker explains in an article for Good Housekeeping magazine. “Each possession is there for a reason.”
Most of us aspire to be happy, but that's not always easy in our modern world, in which we are pulled in lots of directions and are regularly thrown into a state of overwhelm.
Fortunately, there is a solution to this problem. It emanates from taking the decorating principles of minimalism and applying them to other facets of our lives. It's called Minimalism, a style used in interior design and decoration, that embraces a modern, clinical style of living where there is no clutter - hence, fewer distractions.
These days, the word has been appropriated from interior decoration into a broader lifestyle trend. After the shock of 2020, a "less is more" approach to life is gaining traction; one that is kinder to our mental health and the environment.
Joshua Becker describes the meaning of minimalism in his article What Is Minimalism? in the following way:
“It is marked by clarity, purpose, and intentionality. At its core, being a minimalist means intentionally promoting the things we most value and removing everything that distracts us from it."
And it's not only middle-class, middle-aged women who see the appeal of this lifestyle. Our younger generations are also embracing the concept and changing their priorities in accordance with its rules.
One important area of styling properties for sale is about distracting potential buyers from anything other than the property itself - so imagine what a similar decluttering can do for our minds. Who can argue with a lifestyle that promises more money, time, and happiness, and helps us protect our environment as well? And unlike many other decorating styles, minimalism is practical as well.
So how do you become a minimalist?
“The minimalist lifestyle is about living with only the things you need. Minimalists are free from the desire to buy and accumulate more. Instead, they find happiness in relationships and experiences,” says Joshua.
Sounds like common sense, doesn’t it? Although, it’s not just about dedicating a day off for a spring clean.
There’s more to simplifying your life than the physical process of tidying and decluttering. There’s a mental process involved to change habits that have been ingrained, and that's why it can be hard to know exactly where to start. So to help you out, these are the seven changes I've made to my lifestyle that are working for me:
1. Be more intentional. Think about the purpose of your decision and what you really want to gain from it. My priority was to lessen my anxiety, and a "less is more" approach across the board has helped clear my mind and prevent that sense of overwhelm when I feel like everyone expects something from me.
2. Forget about owning stuff and consumerism. This one hurts me on a personal level because I am a shopper and I love that sense of instant gratification from a bargain - which is one of the reasons I haven’t caught the online shopping bug yet. I also take a huge amount of pleasure from simply wandering around malls, looking at beautiful things. I'm not proud of the fact that It has taken me forty years to understand that quality beats quantity every time, but these days my first port of call are the op shops for my fix.
3. Change your mindset and your priorities. Prioritise the simple things in your life that are good for your health. Step into nature when you can, try some mindfulness if that works for you – it’s not for me, however, listening to an entertaining podcast has a similarly relaxing effect. Exercise, meet up with friends for some free therapy, try out a new activity. Make the time to switch off and relax, and don’t feel guilty about it.
4. Don't worry about what others think. Remove toxic people from your life, such as friends who don’t understand your choices, don’t value your opinion, and with whom you can’t have a discussion without feeling disrespected.
5. Stop comparing yourself to others. Forget about the Jones’. The ugliest part of our consumerist society is the way it encourages us to compete with each another, and social media has exacerbated the problem. Aspirations and goals are fine, however, you are unlikely to complete them in exactly the same timeframe as others and envy is guaranteed to make you unhappy.
6. Be grateful. You wouldn't be human if you didn't have why me days, but try to make them less frequent. Again, mindfulness and walking are both great activities for putting those negative thoughts into perspective. Don’t feel guilty about those bad thoughts - a therapist once told me that feeling sorry for yourself is completely valid - however, don’t let negativity overtake everything else and try to make a mental note each day of a couple of things you are grateful for.
7. Create processes that work for you. Everyone needs some structure, but yours may look different to the next person's. I am easily distracted, so mine needs to be rigid, with a to-do list that makes me accountable. It doesn't mean I need to be productive all of the time – just when I need to be. Processes stop me chasing my tail and feeling less of a sense of achievement at the end of each day.
Photo by Alex Loup on Unsplash