My journey to minimalism started when I was in college, simply because I had no money to afford anything… Probably not an ideal scenario, but for me, I chose to use my lack of sufficient funds as an exciting challenge. A challenge to see how little I could survive on.
5 years later, I have a well paying job but I still practice a lot of the same habits because I realized that I actually don’t need things to make me happy. I would rather experience life than buy material things that will break down one day.
I know the term minimalism can be intimidating, especially since we are flocked with marketing ads 24/7 about buying this new thing, and told we need this and that. It can be overwhelming honestly, but if we take a step back and examine everything we have, we have enough.
After I graduated college and journeyed into my new adult working life, I was faced with a decision to make when I got my first big paycheck. The temptation to go buy new things was strong, but I stopped for a minute and made a decision that I will never regret.
I decided to pursue minimalism as a lifestyle.
Here are some of the factors that lead me to that decision, and I hope they will lead you to do some soul searching as well.
1. Minimalism leads to saving more money
Being a minimalist implies that you own less, so consequently, you buy less. Not only that, you can also sell a lot of what you don’t need. It’s tempting to shop like crazy sometimes, especially being a girl who loves fashion, but when I stop and ask myself, “Do I really need this?”, most of the time the answer is “No.” So I put it back on the shelves, and forget about it forever. Voila – money has been saved.
2. Minimalism is Eco-Friendly
Consuming less means less waste! This issue is dear to my heart because I love mother earth, and I believe us humans have a calling to steward the earth well. That means we don’t trash it – we don’t fill our ground with toxic plastics that can’t break down into the earth, and we don’t throw trash into the ocean where it will kill livestock and imbalance the sea life. But JK, because the majority of us actually are guilty of all of those things without meaning to.
I used to be the most guilty of that before I knew this was an issue, but now that I know about this issue of plastic and over consumption, I can’t ignore it. I must fight it and do what I can to save mother earth. Minimalism helps me to achieve a less wasteful lifestyle. Since I’m not buying as much, it means less plastic price tags, less plastic bags, less overall consumption, and less going into landfills. I *try* (but don’t always succeed) to only buy eco-friendly products, and especially try to avoid plastic entirely. I am not there yet, but one day I will be. Minimalism helps me achieve my goal of going zero waste.
3. Minimalism promotes an attitude of gratitude
By having less, I begin to realize how blessed I am for every little thing I have. I realize that I have the essential in life, and it makes me grateful. When you focus on what you have, not what you need, it adds more value and joy to your life.
*Focusing on gratitude is one way I help to combat depression, too.
Choosing to be a minimalist has been healthy for me when temptations rise up for new things that I want (whether or not I can afford them). Instead of being jealous and frustrated that I don’t have this thing, I remind myself why I’m choosing to be a minimalist, and why I’m happy about it. Then I start to realize I don’t actually want the new thing that badly anyway. This helps me to focus on humility rather than taking pride in what I own.
4. Minimalism is liberating
For me, getting rid of things I don’t need has been such a liberating experience. I don’t feel emotionally tied to any material things I own (okay, maybe my camera…), which can be given and taken away. I’m simply happy – with or without things. I believe it’s healthy for everyone to practice minimalism because it teaches us to let go. It’s so easy in this day and age to tie our identity in knots with the things we own, which leads to a lot of deep identity crises later. People attach their identity to their cars, brand names, favorite colors, nice shoes, makeup, and so on. The problem with this is that these thing are fickle, and they will never define or satisfy us, nor are they meant to. Thus, practicing letting go of things we feel an inkling to be attached to is a healthy practice and teaches us confidence in who we are, apart from the safety net of our “things”.
5. Life is less stressful
In more ways than one! Cleaning is the biggest thing for me. I can clean my entire home in 30 minutes. Wash all the dishes, sweep, mop, dust, and vacuum. Since I don’t have a lot of things, I don’t have a lot to clean which is fantastic. I also am able to remember where I put 99% of my things because I don’t have a million and one things to keep up with. Except my phone, I still always lose that for reasons unbeknownst to me. Being a minimalist has reduced my stress like crazy.
I wouldn’t trade being a minimalist for anything. Through this journey, I have learned to be truly content for everything I own, and to not wrap my identity in material things. I’ve saved money, and I’ve practice living a lifestyle of gratitude. I’m not where I want to be in my journey to zero waste and minimalism, but I have come a long way since college, and I’m continuing on.
What about you? What do you find most inspiring about the minimalist lifestyle?