How to Know if Minimalism is Right for You
I’m sure we’ve all heard of Minimalism by now. Headlines of people who live in tiny houses or own less than 50 items pop up online every once in a while. But how do you know if minimalism is right for you? Surely not everyone can own 50 things and be able to survive. This is the 21st century after all. But what if I told you that there’s so much more to minimalism than that? That it’s not just about owning less and living small. Maybe you’d find out that, actually, minimalism is right for you!
Let’s start from the beginning. When did minimalism start? Well, before it was a lifestyle trend it was an art movement that focused on minimal imagery to represent a larger idea. It wasn’t until around 2010 and the rise of The Minimalists, Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus, did the movement really catch on as a trendy lifestyle. Though, somewhere in translation, the real meaning of minimalism was lost to a lot of people. With the stories mentioned above, many were intimidated by what minimalism was and how they were “suppose” to practice it. But, something that The Minimalists emphasize well, there is no “right way” per se.
It’s more than living with less. It’s about living more, it’s a way of living that focuses on experiences rather than possessions. Yes, many people downsize and own less. But in an effort to bring more peace into their lives. Even if you just get rid of a bunch of old mail or toys your kids owned 20 years ago, you’ll more than likely feel some relief. There’s no need to own 100 or less, 50 or less, etc. There’s no golden standard for minimalism. And in exchange, you can find new connections with yourself, with others, and with the world around you.
Sounds great, right? Less stress, more time, smaller carbon footprint, who wouldn’t want that?
But is minimalism right for you? Is this lifestyle the one? There’s more to it than just being interested in the concept. Will you be committed enough to stick with it?
To help with finding out if minimalism is right for you, I’ve come up with a few questions that you can ask yourself. Think about them a bit and see where you end up!
4 Questions to Ask Yourself to See if Minimalism is Right for You
Does Owning Stuff Stress You Out?
Are you always cleaning? Always trying to find a place for things that don’t have one? Do you have too much stuff, but not enough space? Or even too much space than you know what to do with? Is every drawer in your house a clutter drawer?
Did you answer yes to any of those? A lot of them? All of them?
If so, then having too much might be a big stressor in your life. And minimalism might be the solution you’re looking for. While you don’t need to downsize drastically, you may want to consider getting rid of some clutter from your life. Old bills, magazines you never read, your 20th cup, that old sweater you got as a gift and never wore. You get the idea. Things that you don’t need anymore. They’re outdated, never used, outgrown. Whatever reason you have.
Now, imagine your life without all of those things. Less stress from not knowing what to do with it all. More time from not needing to clean it all all the time. Clarity in knowing that everything has a home and it can always go back there. Your home feels more like a home than a Goodwill with less unimportant things and more room for important and loved belongings. Your family is closer without the stress of always trying to keep the house tidy and with more time to do things together.
Think about it. By adopting a more minimalistic approach to life, this could be how your life looks. Of course, getting rid of some clutter isn’t going to completely cure your life of stress, but it could definitely help. And there’s a lot of other benefits too!
Do You Strive for a Simpler Life?
Yes, minimalism can make your life simpler. One big component of many peoples’ lives (especially those who live in more developed nations) is the need to keep up with trends and always have the next big thing. You know those things. Phones, games, toys, cars, fashion, etc. All those things that you know you don’t need, but feel like will help you be more accepted into society. And while breaking free of those feelings is definitely not easy (I still struggle with them a lot), this can help.
Minimalism is about owning less and being happier with what you have. We all know that there’s really no need to buy the new phone every year when our old ones work fine. But we do it anyway.
Imagine how much simpler life could be if we didn’t focus on the next big thing so much?
Let me tell you about someone I knew in college. He was a bit older than everyone else because he was in the military before starting school and then took some time to heal from that. But something that I always found interesting about him is that he owned a flip phone and never used social media. A millennial who didn’t have a smartphone and didn’t spend his time online. It was a foreign concept to me. But he was one of the nicest and most laid back people I had ever met while in college.
I’m sure that there was more to it than staying off of social media, but I know that it had to have helped a lot. We can get so caught up in those things that we start to miss what is really important to us.
Minimalism can help shift those focuses towards those more important aspects of life. You learn to live simpler through choosing what is important to you and what isn’t and getting rid of what isn’t. Your life will have more intention and you’ll be doing things with purpose rather than because you feel like you have to. And that’s really the simplest way to live in my mind.
Are You Worried About Your Impact on the Environment?
This is definitely my biggest reason for starting my minimalism journey. I’ve always been worried about this and trying to find ways to make my carbon footprint smaller. I strong belief in people’s responsibility to protect the earth, but that’s for another time.
For now, let’s talk consumerism. You could say that consumerism is the opposite of minimalism. It’s buying new things and more things. Consuming products, if you will. This can create a lot of waste which in turn results in a lot of environmental damages. The main sources of waste are from packaging (styrofoam, bubble wrap, and plastic wrap anyone?), shipping, and packaging. Getting something new before the old is no longer usable also creates waste. Or clutter. Both are not good.
Each of these processes causes so many problems for the environment. From speeding up climate change to increasing ocean acidification and contaminating water, our choices to buy more than we need or want is quickly having lasting effects on our planet.
Solution? Buy less, need less, consume less.
When embarking on a minimalistic journey, many people also start moving towards a zero-waste lifestyle. Owning less means you’re buying less which means you’re creating less waste. Not only will it add some peace and clarity to your life, it will also help take care of the planet.
Overall minimalists have smaller carbon footprints than consumerists. This is mostly from owning less, but also from buying locally and supporting sustainable businesses, which many of minimalists try their best to do.
So maybe minimalism is right for you if you’re looking for some peace of mind when it comes to your impact on the environment.
Do You Want to Connect More with People and Nature?
Do you know what all of the already talked about benefits lead to? Deeper connections with others and the natural world around you.
I mean, think about it. You’re less stressed and less irritable. You have more time and can take moments to better appreciate what’s around you. You’re less worried about how your actions affect the world and can become closer to it. And why wouldn’t you want these connections? There are so many studies out there about the benefits of connecting with others and with nature. Especially when you connect with people in nature.
By freeing yourself from mental and physical clutter, you can focus on those important things we thought about earlier. There is time and space to focus on the present, not the past, not the future. The present. What is happening right now. Not what has happened or what will happen. Just right now. And that can open up so many important opportunities for you to grow and connect and be.
You’ll have the ability to take your time, be alone, do what you want, take care of yourself, and so much more.
There are so many ways to know if minimalism is right for you. There’s nothing saying that everything I just asked you is it. There can be so much more. Or so much less. There just needs to be intention. There needs to be passion. And most importantly, there needs to be drive.
Nothing comes overnight. The first few months will be hard. Maybe the first year. But it’s so important to not give up and to keep trying for as long as you can.
Everyone’s journeys are different and one person may seem to breeze through it while you struggle, but that says nothing about you. Your journey will take as long as it needs to to get you where you need to be. And with so many different ways to go about it, their way may be completely wrong for you. Then there’s no comparison at all.
Either way, I highly recommend you give it a try. It might just be what you need. And it not, it can’t hurt you.
Do you consider yourself a minimalist? How did you start? What suggestions would you have for someone who is on the edge about it?
Let me know!