The world is a distracting place.
Whether we’re being force-fed the latest product or told our wardrobes are outdated; we are born and raised by the media with a niggling urge to buy stuff.
What does this result in? A lot of unused possessions.
However, consumer-based companies are now freaking out.
The minimalist lifestyle is a simple and cost-effective ‘trend’: buying only what you need and will use.
Having originated with the Japanese belief in maintaining peace and harmony in the home; minimalism has become a life-changing solution. This simple lifestyle offers the ability to live independently, save money, focus, and have freedom from the ‘need’ to buy into materialism.
A good reason for companies to panic.
However, choosing a minimalist lifestyle isn’t easy, we have been brought up by generations of hoarders, with a family home that’s bursting with possessions: the home comforts that make ‘a house a home’.
Materialism is an obligation in the average household. So deciding to live with the bare minimum is going against the grain, by doing so we’re challenging the minds idea of what makes us feel comfortable or ‘at home’.
Minimalism forms itself in many ways; for example, I’m a firm believer in having a clean space to work in, practising a little feng shui to de-clutter the mind by having a structure in my surroundings. Not having much in the first place makes this easy, have a little means there is little to clean up!
For others, not having many possessions means more freedom and spontaneity in life. You the ability to pack up your bags and travel the world at your leisure, without the worry of how much you will have to leave behind.
It’s estimated that over 250 million people live abroad, while some families move everything they own, the younger generation is travelling alone with one or two bags. When you go solo, you have the choice to move around at your leisure, so minimalism becomes a foregone conclusion in your life, purely because of practicality.
Going minimalist when travelling is a way of detaching yourself from the clutter. You can’t expect to take everything you own, some sacrifices have to be made along the way.
If you want to keep your expenses to a minimum, you’re going to have to really love what you have, because you are going to have it for a long time.
Maintaining the Minimalist Lifestyle: De-cluttering
De-cluttering is really satisfying.
When you’re brought up to love having things, it doesn’t go away: having frequent clean-outs keep a habit at bay.
Having lived with just one bag of clothes for a year, when I visited Scotland, my home, I chucked out everything I never wore or used, giving what I didn’t need to local charity shops.
It felt so good!
If you forget you have something: why do you need it?
You need to ask yourself this a lot, and so we have step 2.
Ask Yourself 4 Questions before Buying Something
Picture this: you’re out for coffee with a friend and they need some bits and bobs, so you keep them company.
Normally, you don’t go into shops unless you need something, but you can’t just leave, that’s rude.
You start browsing and immediately a blouse catches your eye:
- Do you have something similar?
- Are blouses really your jam or are you feeling a little risky today?
- Are you going to skip dinner tonight because you bought it?
- Do you need it?
This is where the discipline comes in.
No one’s perfect, there will be a time where you ignore all the questions, we’re human after all.
Finding Home Comforts in the Small Things
This was a struggle for me the first time around, but a fundamental lesson to learn.
When I moved to Asia I brought 2kg of home comforts, some of which never left my suitcase.
We all need to make a house a home, the important part is choosing the things to make it so.
Go for small, personal things that mean a lot to you, this can take the form of:
- Postcards, birthday cards, photo’s – paper things
- Small trinkets/jewellery
- Thin fabrics (that’s a personal preference)
Main objective – not heavy!
Discovering What You Really Need and Can’t Live Without
This is very much a gradual process.
Only having exactly what you really need can be both liberating and terrifying.
This is your life, so you are the only person that can make your list of what you need.
I think this is where the happiness in having a minimal life really is: respecting what you have.
Start with the Simple Things
- Clothes (but how many items?)
- Home comforts
You will work out the rest of the list over time.
Quality Over Quantity: Minimal Maintenance
When you are keeping your spending to a minimum, each purchase is a long-term investment.
While buying the same cheap pair of shoes three times over may seem cost-effective when you do it, splashing out on something that is good quality is much cheaper in the long run.
I know, the word investment is scary but don’t panic!
Think of how much time and effort you will save when you only have to look once. If you’re like me and hate shopping, this is fantastic.
What are your tips for a minimalist lifestyle?