Updated: Dec 15, 2021
Why become a minimalist? Here are 6 things you'll get more of when you own less.
“There are two ways to be rich: One is by acquiring much, and the other is by desiring little.” - Jackie French Koller
You might have heard a lot of people identify themselves as a 'minimalist' lately, as Netflix documentaries from 'Tidying Up with Marie Kondo' to 'The Minimalists: Less Is Now' have become a true eye-opener for hoarders, compulsive buyers and even the standard consumer. Although you might still be wondering, what are the benefits of owning near to nothing?
It appears the more we have, the more we want. It's the greed effect - as our wealth grows, we start to believe we need a fancier car, the latest version of the iPhone, double the amount of clothes and shoes... even though we seemed to be living perfectly fine before we had all these newfound belongings. When we own more, our standard of living increases and we continue to chase for "bigger and better".
A lot of the times we become victims of consumerism because we are constantly surrounded by targeted ads and bombarded by the latest trends, which makes us crave things we neither need nor enjoy. Amazon's same day delivery even goes as far as creating a feeling of needing our orders urgently... seriously, why does the word 'Prime' slapped on an item make me feel like I need it to be delivered ASAP?!
We fall into a trap of mindless consumption as buying gives us instant gratification and brings us temporary joy.
Though I'm sure no one ever lied on their death bed thinking "Damn, if only I had bought that jacket in black too". Nope, they reflected on the experiences they had, rather than the possessions they owned.
The truth is, it’s okay to have money as long as money doesn’t have us... and when you focus on what you don't have, then you will never ever have enough.
Ironically, as a minimalist, there is so much more that you can gain rather than lose. Below are six things you'll get more of!
1. More money
“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.” - Will Rogers
This quote hits hard for a previous version of me. When I was eighteen years old I would often save up to buy UGG boots, which took at least two months of savings for me to finally be able to afford them! Did I love those boots? Hell no. I just wanted to fit in with the 'basic bitch' look as per my peers around me (apologies to all you UGG lovers out there...).
If you find yourself in a habit of low-key needing to show off your prize possessions, whether that be a designer bag or an expensive watch, realise that flaunting your prosperity and status is not a rich life - you will not find peace in this. No one is more obsessed with your life than you are - you may think that people care about how you look and what you have, but ultimately nobody cares more than you do.
As a minimalist, status anxiety will not be the reason for your purchases. Instead, you'll use your hard earned cash to invest in things that you are truly passionate about. Rather than seeing your money as merely being 'spent', you will see it as being circulated back into the world towards something that you deem worthy.
I'm all for purchasing things that you know you'll genuinely love or cherish long-term - but if this isn't the case, before you decide to buy something, ask yourself whether you already have something similar that functions perfectly fine? If so, do you really need it?
Being more mindful of your purchasing habits can definitely help you save a tonne of money in the long-run, as you'll always question how much you actually need and will start to use your £££'s wisely.
2. More space
I don't know about y'all, but I personally find decluttering insanely satisfying! Narrowing down my belongings to the essentials, knowing exactly what is where and how much I already have makes life feel so much more tidier and easier. My friends question how my room remains almost empty all the time, and the rule of thumb is "If I am not going to use you for the next six months... you're out".
There are many excuses for why we collect clutter e.g. "I don't want to throw it away as I spent money on it", "It was free - I had to take it!". It is a mental battle between what we want versus what we need... but if we find things sitting around that serve no purpose, don’t bring us particular joy, or we’ve forgotten even existed, it is time to let it go. We should constantly question what we own, why we own it, and whether we could do without. This way, we learn to hold onto things that actually have value and become more aware of the junk we accumulate.
Though this may be tricky when it comes to sentimental items, as we tend to fall for the guilt of letting these go. However, understand that you're not heartless if you feel these items are taking up space. Simply take a picture of it and move on. The memory of the experience when you got that thing is what is important, and you can access that happy moment in your head whenever you like. Unlike a physical item, no thief can ever take this away from you.
View decluttering as something you "choose" to do instead of "have" to do. You are choosing to free up living space, so you can focus on what matters and make room for better things in your life.
Grab a box and say goodbye to pointless items, whilst recycling or donating anything that you can. Or if you want to make some extra cash, sell them!
3. More quality
When you're living with the bare minimum, you begin to focus on quality rather than quantity. A few high quality items are way better than a bunch of stuff that damages easily. You'll no longer need to have multiple "just in case" items.
This also means items that are environmentally friendly too. Don't contribute towards plastic pollution or Fast Fashion, where environmental concerns are ignored to increase profit. Purchasing easily disposable items can affect climate change, so in order to reduce your carbon footprint, stop focusing on the latest trends and focus on what is sustainable. Buying less quantity but better quality will stop the vicious cycle of buying and replacing.
When you stop over-consuming, you'll start using what you already have effectively and value your belongings more. You'll put your love into quality items instead of buying things to fulfil a gap for a short period of time. On the up-side, you're helping yourself and the planet!
4. More time
When I was trekking around Southeast Asia with nothing but a backpack, the amount of time I saved from thinking about what to wear was unreal, since I only had three outfits to choose from! I even saved time from things like painting my nails or wearing make-up, which meant more time sitting in the sun and getting a tan (woohoo!).
Naturally, the less things you own, the less you need to worry about. Minimalism makes it easier to keep track of all your belongings and you'll no longer waste time maintaining items you no longer use.
And of course, the need for less things means less shopping time is required. If time is money, then shopping is definitely burning twice the hole in your pocket! With the majority of us currently working from home, embracing minimalism will help you refrain from online shopping, so you can utilise your time to work towards goals that you feel you previously never had time for.
5. More happiness
“The consumption society has made us feel that happiness lies in having things, and has failed to teach us the happiness of not having things.” -Elise Boulding
Any materialist will learn that having more and more doesn't always solve your problems, as you cannot rely on external objects to make you happy. Happiness doesn't come from the outside - you need to search within to figure out what your spirit needs. The key to happiness is not to feed your soul with things, but rather feeding it with meaning and a sense of purpose in your life.
Levels of happiness will increase when you can look around and see that what you have is enough - you'll have no need to desire more. When you live with less, you'll have more capacity to enjoy simple pleasures as you'll have fewer distractions that interfere with a high quality life, and in turn, you can concentrate on developing yourself and your relationships.
6. More freedom
Mo' things, mo' stress, and also mo' stuff, less freedom. Have you ever wondered, who is your authentic self, beyond all your belongings?
We were born free as babies, but as time went on, it became a social construct to receive an abundance of physical gifts from people - clothes, toys etc... It's no wonder we feel like it's never too much.
This is probably why monks decide to take vows to poverty, as they seem to live with more freedom than ever. Without disturbance, they have more room to focus on spirituality. Whilst not all of us are willing to ditch all our stuff, shave our hair off and go live on a mountain, we can definitely appreciate the peace that comes with not worrying about anything else asides your mental balance.
Are you being mindful, or is your mind full? If it's the latter, choose to liberate yourself and start with a clean slate by unburdening your life and getting out from under your stuff.
Becoming a minimalist will help you feel lighter, as you'll learn to stop letting your items consume you. You'll consciously start looking into simple and intentional living. A more content mind can shift your reality, where you are more at ease with life and more positive thoughts start to flow.
Because deep down, you know you did not enter this world to merely be a consumer.
Will you embrace minimalism? Let me know!
You can find me on Instagram @mindfulmonkay :)