I’ve been thinking a lot about minimalism. I know some of you that ship has already sailed. But honestly, the more I think about it, I believe minimalism can easily be the secret ingredient to living a thriftier, healthier, and happier life.
Think about it; the less you own, the less you have to worry about, the less money you spend. When it comes to your house, your closet, even your choices at the grocery store - giving yourself less options can actually open you up to some freedom in the long run.
If you don’t believe me, then here’s an example: Back in 2010 two partners started a blog called The Minimalists to document what it’s like to live a minimal lifestyle and how it can improve your life. The blog talks on a range of topics within their podcasts, and in a recent interview one of the authors Joshua Millburn said, “Minimalism was the thing that cleared the path for me and allowed me to get past the things I owned and let them go, in order to make room for life’s most important things."
When starting out his journey, Millburn actually gave away 90% of his possessions in order to live a minimalist lifestyle. He only worries about what he needs and values, and finds that after getting rid of these indulgences within his household he felt an overwhelming sense of freedom versus feeling deprivation.
Vastly intrigued by all of this, I thought about our lives in New York City and how being a minimalist can actually improve our lives. I decided to first ask myself the question The Minimalists ask when it comes to their content:
What adds value to my life?
I immediately thought of the things that make me who I am – my love for reading, writing, cooking, and photography. I think of Sunday mornings with Oliver as we attend our local church. I think of my family and friends that I still chat with on a weekly basis. I think of my passion for writing and where I hope it will go some day. I think about how my body feels after a great workout, or the elated feeling I experience when I reach my daily water intake goal. I think of peaceful walks through New York City capturing the beautiful world around me.
I didn’t think of all the things that I want. I thought of all the things I already have.
With all of this in mind, I decided to take a few minutes to pick out a few new ways I can try to live minimally.
Make a list of five things that you value.
It’s one of the key points that The Minimalists make on their blog – think about the things that bring you value, and get rid of the stuff in your life that doesn’t. I found that by making a list of the things that bring me value, it helps me to narrow down how I spend my time (and my money).
- Reading books
- Writing stories
- Exploring new places
- Working out
Now of course I'm not locked into these five values, since I love to knit and other activities, but I know how I enjoy spending my time and these are my values when it comes to my day-to-day activities.
Play the 30-Day Minimalism Game.
Another tip from The Minimalists – it’s a game you can play to just get rid of your stuff. To play, on the first day of your challenge you get rid of one item. The next day you get rid of two. You keep adding on to that number to reflect the number of days you are participating until you feel like you have nothing else more to get rid of (just think about how you’re going to feel when you hit day 22). They recommend playing with another person to motivate yourself.
Try a capsule wardrobe (or a Five Minute Outfit Guide).
I am currently obsessing over this blog called Unfancy. It’s this woman who has seriously awesome capsule wardrobe skills – and I want to replicate the same tactics in my own wardrobe (not the same outfits, but the same tactics). I also have been using my Five Minute Outfit Guide a lot this winter, which has helped me to spend absolutely no money on clothes so far.
Pick a hobby.
This certainly is on the same subject of following the things you value. By picking a hobby you are choosing to spend your time on one particular item, instead of lollygagging on the things that waste your time. For example, if you love to craft, then find a new project for yourself in those free moments. If you love to write, then spend some serious time writing. It will reduce the amount you are spending by not having this notion that you need to be entertaining yourself with more stuff.
Read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up
Because it really is life-changing, and it still is my method of madness when it comes to living in this tiny apartment of New York City. Right before we moved, I actually ended up getting rid of 16 garbage bags worth of stuff – which was absolutely ridiculous that I could fit that much crap in my college bedroom. It was a huge relief when packing up the truck to move out of Chicago, and even more of a relief when organizing our tiny studio. If you are looking for a full proof method to just get rid of your crap, this is absolutely the one to go by.
Make another list of the things you use within one month.
Not sure what you use or don’t use? Start making a list! I find that I have a bunch of cleaning supplies and other Knick Knacks around the apartment that I barely ever touch during months on end. For an entire month, make a list of the things you actually use. At the end of the month evaluate why you haven’t used the items not listed, and just get rid of them!
Set an aesthetic for your home.
I know it’s tempting to replicate so many beautiful homes on Pinterest and Instagram, but by doing so you are probably spending so much money on home décor and ending up with a place that looks cluttered and not beautiful. Set an aesthetic for your place that will help define the type of pieces you want or don’t want to buy. For example, Oliver and I love the look and feel of wood in our apartment. Since wood is such a warm color, I tend to lean towards warmer tones that match wood such as yellows, greens, and light grey. This helps me to stop spending so much on items that don’t make sense in our aesthetic, and choosing pieces that actually look beautiful in our home.
Stop stocking up on items you don’t need or use.
No, you don’t need to buy that 5,000 cotton ball bag just because it was on sale. Or that 10-pack of Windex because it’s really cheaper than buying 10 bottles on their own. Just think about how long those Windex bottles will be stored in your pantry or kitchen, or how you’ll have to find a place to stuff that bag of cotton balls. We fall for this notion that we need to “stock up,” but in reality we really don’t have to. These items take up so much room in our places that soon we feel overwhelmed, and evidently, those cotton balls end up underneath some new stocked item on the bottom of your closet and you forget about buying them at all.
Challenge yourself to cook all of the food items you currently own.
This is something I’ve been seriously trying to stay on top of. I hate having an overstocked fridge of soon-to-be moldy food, a pantry that is overfull to the brim, and never feeling like I have anything to cook. Try to plan your meals around what you own and keep using the items in your pantries and fridges until you are cleaned out. It will feel good to know that you got the most out of your groceries, and will feel even better with a clean fridge and pantry when you grocery shop in the future.
Say “no” more often.
I honestly thing this is the most important lesson when it comes to minimalism. Friends, you are absolutely allowed to say "no" to certain things in life. You don't have to answer that text late at night if you are trying to stay off your phone an hour before bed. You don't have to say yes to that concert if you don't like crowded music halls. You don't have to watch that show just because everyone keeps saying you should. You don't have to buy that particular style of dress or shorts just because a blogger says it will make you fashionable, even though that style of clothing would never look good with your body type. It's really okay! When you say "no" you are giving yourself the freedom to do what you value, instead of filing your life with the things you don't love just to live like everyone else.
What ways have you been trying to live a more minimal lifestyle?
Share in the comments below!
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