When someone first decides to become a minimalist, it’s generally out of an overwhelming desire to be free from clutter and chaos. Sick of dealing with the mess; sick of the organizing and reorganizing in an attempt to conquer it.
At some point, there’s an “aha moment.” The answer is clear; the stuff must go. All of it.
The focus is on removing the stuff to eliminate the mess, chaos, and overwhelm, but as progress is made on the clutter-front, some unexpected, additional benefits often turn up as well.
While minimalism isn’t a cure-all for life’s struggles, it can improve life in many ways.
“If you give away everything you have, you are left with nothing. The is forces you to look, to be aware, to replenish… Somehow the more you give away, the more comes back to you.” -Paul Arden
Here are a few extra benefits of minimalism that you might discover throughout your journey:
#1 Increased self-awareness
Letting the majority of your possessions go means you have to make difficult choices on what you want to keep. Getting rid of the excess reveals the things that matter to you; the process reveals a lot about who you are.
As you wade through stuff, you may be surprised to find out the things you’ve hung onto for such a long time, you don’t actually love or value.
You will learn more about who you are and who you want to be. And you’ll have more time to devote to things you love; you may start a new craft or hobby-one where you finish the projects. Or even start a new career path.
#2 Increased self-confidence
There is often more baggage tied up in stuff than we realize. We hold onto things for so many reasons, most of which drag us down, not lift us up.
Consider shame, for example. When we keep things because we feel ‘guilty’, we aren’t being true to ourselves. Shame snowballs. There is shame if you keep it and have piles you can’t manage, yet there is shame if you think about getting rid of it. (This is often referred to as guilt in this case, guilt by definition means you did something wrong and by getting rid of things you aren’t doing anything wrong.) The shame drags you down.
Also, when you’re living in a state of overwhelm, running to hide when the doorbell unexpectedly rings, whether you realize it or not, self-confidence takes a beating. It’s common to get trapped in negative self-thought that perpetuates the problem.
With minimalism and less to manage, clean and clear spaces can emerge, which feels incredible. Every time you haul a load out and deal with the lingering emotions tied to it, the negative thoughts get challenged and the feelings confidence increases.
You may be surprised at the new-found self-confidence and by the new opportunities and experiences that present themselves.
#3 Improved finances
Finances often improve for several reasons.
First, watching all that stuff go out the door is a little bit painful, knowing that it’s now worth a fraction of what you paid for it, or nothing at all. Secondly, it’s a lot of hard work to make your way through the excess; the hard-earned reward of a clean and clear home is a powerful motivator.
You’ll likely find that:
- The clearance aisle isn’t calling your name anymore; the draw toward browsing and buying “just because” goes away.
- You won’t need to run out to replace items (ending up with duplicates), because you can’t find it when you need it.
- You’ll start to buy quality items that you need, things that you value, and that will last.
- Contentment sets in and “keeping up with the Jones'” isn’t appealing.
Also, with the time that is freed up no longer dealing with “stuff,” along with the increase in self-awareness and self-confidence, many people end up finding ways to use their skills and interests to add to the bottom line.
All of this creates room in the budget. Room to pay off debt, to save up for big purchases that matter, and to put towards retirement, and ultimately a brighter financial future.
#4 Improved family relationships
When the focus is placed on the peace decluttering and minimalism can bring and shared input from family members, rather than focusing on frustrations, a minimalist lifestyle can lead to improved relationships.
When you clear out the excess, you will find more time in your schedule and more time to spend with your loved ones.
You will be able to “see” them, and they can really “see” you. Some end up seeing problems they were avoiding with the piles of stuff, which can be difficult at first, but that can lead to authenticity developing, and as you deal with the issues, relationships can deepen and become more meaningful.
#5 Improved health
Living in a state of stress and overwhelm is hard on your health.
When you clear out the excess, there is more time to spend focusing on your health and relaxation. There is time to take up a new hobby or go for a simple, daily walk.
Imagine how it will feel to go for a walk without feeling like there are 50 things you need to take care of at home or to take a bubble bath without nearly-empty shampoo bottles cluttering up the shelves.
Allergens in the home are reduced, cleaning becomes easier, and the chances of mold or other “ickies” hiding out in storage areas are reduced as well.
Minimalism doesn’t fix everything, and it doesn’t come without effort, but it’s a journey and a lifestyle that reaps many benefits beyond what you might first imagine.