"You say, 'If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.' You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled." ~ Charles Haddon Spurgeon
What is a minimalist lifestyle?
It is living with only the bare essentials that are an absolute necessity. The popular misconception is that minimalists live like gypsies. This is far from true, the idea is to choose quality over quantity in each aspect of our life. There are many rewards of adopting this lifestyle; when you own a few things you have more freedom, more money, more opportunities to meet people and less stress. Moreover, possessions tie you down to a place; when you own less, you will be free to move whenever you want. What you feel is making your life comfortable, may actually be restricting you in more ways than one.
Ways to Adopt a Minimalist Lifestyle
It is not possible to become a minimalist in a day, it's a slow process. The trick is to take one step at a time.
Declutter Your House
To adopt a minimalist lifestyle, you need to start by clearing all the mess in your house. How to declutter your house? Start with any one room in your house, if it is too much for you, do one drawer at a time. Divide all the things in 3 categories: Need, Donate/Sell and Dispose. Decide why you need something and how your life will be affected, if you do not have it. Every item you own must have a purpose. If you can do without something, either sell it or dispose it, according to the condition and value of the object. Think about how it could be beneficial to someone and accordingly donate it.
Organize and Arrange
A lot of mess around the house is just a visual interruption; clutter leads to stress. Do not leave things anywhere after using them, put it back in its original place. Arrange the things that are left in your house in such a way that there is enough space to move around. Your house is a place where you live, don't let your possessions take over. Put away things that you need for just a few days a year in a storage room, pack things in boxes and label them. Every item should have a specific place, that way you will even save time searching for things.
Importance of Budget for a Minimalist
A budget is extremely important to a minimalist, prepare a budget keeping in mind only the necessities. Buy only what you actually cannot do without, make a list of things to buy at the beginning of every month and stick to it. Do not carry credit cards when you go out to avoid giving in to temptations, which may be difficult in the initial days.
Subscribe to Electronic Copies
How many magazines and newspapers have you subscribed to? Why not, instead read the electronic copies? Why do you need catalogs when you can see the same products on the internet? What do you do with magazines after you've read them? How about joining a library instead, you can read it and return it, plus it's a lot cheaper. Unsubscribe from all newspapers, magazines, newsletters and catalogs that are available online or in your local library.
One In, One Out
Follow this policy religiously, if you're serious about adopting a minimalist lifestyle. You have one umbrella and you buy another one, then it's time to dispose the old one. If it's in a good condition, donate it, you do not need two of the same item. If you keep buying new things and do not get rid of old ones, you will not be able to clear the mess that is messing your life. Plan a day every few months, when you can dispose unwanted things from your house.
Give a Consideration To...
No Need of Television for a Minimalist Lifestyle
This one is not a necessity; as many of us believe today, a minimalist lifestyle does not need a television. By getting rid of television, you are making time for yourself and your loved ones. Spend your time exercising, reading, spending time with your close ones, and you will not only be healthier, but even have better relationships.
Clothing is a basic need, but how many clothes do you need? The consumerist boom has led many of us to believe that shopping for clothes is the ultimate way to de-stress. This is not true. In fact, if you let your happiness depend on how many clothes you have, then you will never be satisfied, no matter how much you shop. Think about how simple life would be, if you did not have to get up everyday and worry about what to wear. Do you wear every single piece of clothing you have? Try to live by the rule that if you do not use a piece of clothing for more than 3 months, donate it.
Furniture for Miniamlist Lifestyle
Many of us have a lot more furniture in our house than we actually need, figure out which ones you really need and dispose the others. Also try and clear the wall and floors, there is no need for fancy wall hangings and things stacked on the floor. You can decorate your room by keeping some fresh flowers. When you are done, look around and you will realize how much space you always had, but never realized. Now cleaning will be easier, and your house will be more appealing to you.
Food for Minimalist Lifestyle
A minimalist's lifestyle reflects in the food he chooses to eat; he eats simple food prepared in a simple manner with few ingredients. To begin with, do not eat while watching TV, eat slowly and relish the taste. Instead of getting processed foods, try to prepare meals that require few ingredients and are easy to prepare. Eat less; a rule to stick by is to always get up from the table before you're completely full.
Some More Lifestyle Changes
Goals of a Minimalist Lifestyle
A minimalist lifestyle is not limited just to possessions and food, it also means reducing your goals. The idea is to set your priorities straight and work towards the most important goals. When you work on fewer goals, your focus will be higher and you are more likely to succeed. When you accomplish a goal, then add another one to your list and work towards it.
Commitments of Minimalist Lifestyle
We have numerous commitments everyday: work, home, community tasks, hobbies, etc. Try to reduce your commitments, the ones that are not in sync with your beliefs. Relationships are good, but it is important to know when to switch off that blackberry and log off from the networking site. Constant distractions will make you used to the attention, and you will always require it to feel important and happy.
Minimalist Lifestyle Defies Negative Thoughts
If you cannot change a negative situation, why waste time worrying about it and get negative. Negative emotions affect your well-being and health. Holding grudges against people will affect you more negatively than you think, jealousy will only make you more bitter. Learn to accept and appreciate yourself, forgive people and try to forget unpleasant experiences. Being positive is important when maintaining a minimalist lifestyle.
This lifestyle will extend to each aspect of your life, the bottom line is to keep it simple. Try to live by the motto, 'Less is More'; once you get rid of the passion to possess, your will be able to appreciate the simple things in life. To sum up, these lines from Paulo Coelho's, The Alchemist, should inspire you in your journey towards adopting a minimalist lifestyle - "Needs can be fulfilled; desires never. A desire is a need gone crazy. It is impossible to fulfill it. The more you fulfill it, the more it goes on asking. Needs are beautiful. Desires are ugly and they make monsters of men."