My favorite summary of minimalism is Joshua Becker’s quote:
“Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it.”
That is the main philosophy of minimalism.
“Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from overwhelm. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from depression. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom.” ~The Minimalists
Many say they “could never be a minimalist” because of the strict rules that minimalists have to follow. But as Leo Babauta says:
“There are no set rules. There’s no one way. What I suggest for living minimally isn’t what someone else would recommend, nor is it how you would live your minimalist life. In general, however, you want to live simply without too many unnecessary possessions, distractions, clutter, or waste. You want to live frugally, debt-free, sustainably, naturally.”
Minimalism is going to look different for each individual and every family. And for some it might not be as much about limiting possessions as you think:
“For me this wasn’t as much about throwing out a bunch of physical possessions as it was about minimizing my schedule, getting clear about my priorities, and being really clear about who I was and what I wanted out of life.” ~Brian Gardner
Think about your life and what fills it currently.
- Are you working towards the life you want to live?
- Is your time spent doing things you enjoy?
- Do you feel fulfilled or lacking?
- What takes priority?
- Do you spend as much time working on relationships as you would like?
- Is your calendar filled with things that you love, or that you just feel obligated to do?
- Are there items in your home that steal your time or your thoughts? (“I should be dusting.” “I have to move the stack of papers to clean that surface.” …etc.)
The benefits of embracing minimalism are many.
But the main one is being able to focus on what is the very most important thing.
Before minimalism, the focus of life was to earn more money, so we could afford nicer things – a better house, a newer car, pretty furnishings, and something comparable to everyone else in our neighborhood.
This created debt, working overtime as often as possible and so much yard work and house cleaning, those items were rarely enjoyed as we flopped down in at night to catch a couple hours of TV before doing it all again. There was actually very little time spent savoring the things we were working so hard to attain.
What did I actually want in life? Well, at the core, when I sat and contemplated.
I wanted deeper relationships.
I had said that my relationship with God was important, but I never spent any time seeking Him. Sure- we went to church and prayed at the meals, but is that actively seeking?
The relationships with my children and my husband were relationships that I wanted to nurture and grow. But we went through the motions of surviving life each day, which turned to weeks and then to years.
Letting go of all the stuff that was stealing the time from me meant I had time to seek God. It meant I had time to be with my children and with my husband.
Minimalism is about being intentional.
It means that you aren’t going to let life just go by. You are going to have a priority and make sure that every area of your life is moving towards that.
I’m not talking here about doing more. No, this means doing less.
If things in your life aren’t helping you get where you want to go, do they really belong?
“When you have a lot of material things, your focus can be all over the place. You worry about working enough to pay for all of the stuff and you spend your time trying to look for or put away all of the stuff in your home. When the stuff is gone and the bills of the home are lessened, it becomes possible to focus time and energy on the important things such as the people around you and the things you are doing.” ~No Sidebar
Embracing minimalism means embracing a lifestyle.
It’s a journey, a process, as Laura from Simply Clearly states:
“Minimalism seems to be a continual process, since what I use today, I may not be using next year. People change, needs change and it takes an intentional, mindful lifestyle to continually detach us from items we no longer need and let them go.”
Though it’s a journey, it’s not a burden. It’s not continually making sacrifices. Instead, it’s more valuing your time, your space and your abilities.
“I realised that minimalism was a tool to help me achieve all these things. I stopped viewing minimalism as a restrictive lifestyle and instead as a choice to live the life I want most.” ~Simply Fiercely