When people hear “minimalism,” they often think of living in a tiny home with one towel or holding up a toaster to interrogate it on its ability to spark joy.
They imagine ruthlessly decluttering their closets to haul carloads of clothes to a donation center.
The truth, however, is that minimalism is more than the reduction of stuff, and it is not about deprivation. When we make life more complicated than it needs to be, the minimalist mindset leads us back to simplification. Minimalism as a lifestyle is a return to what is pure and necessary to live a healthy life.
Several years ago, when I began my minimalist journey, I did not know where it would take me or the health benefits I would reap. I only knew I had too much stuff. I bought too much stuff. Every day Amazon boxes were on my doorstep, and my bank account was starving.
I spent so much time mindlessly scrolling on my phone, and I had too many events on my calendar. I was too tired to cook healthy foods or exercise.
I felt exhausted, overwhelmed and anxious. Somehow I ended up joining a decluttering challenge that began my journey into minimalism.
My thinking did not shift right away. I continued to buy stuff as I got rid of well over 2,000 items.
Nonetheless, my buying slowed, and somewhere along the way I began to see a difference in my home. The atmosphere felt lighter, and I began to feel calmer.
As my outward environment changed, so did my inward thinking. I no longer wanted excess in my house or on my schedule. I wanted a simpler, sustainable way of living. As I pursued the path of minimalism, my physical and mental health improved.
With a minimalist mindset, you begin to rid yourself of excess by focusing on your priorities. As you adopt this thinking, you begin to apply it to the food you eat and the products you buy. Processed, chemical-laden, and overly packaged items do not support this mindset, so eating whole foods and buying sustainable products becomes a natural choice.
One of the most unexpected benefits of minimalism for me was the creation of extra time. When I no longer spent my time moving clutter from place to place in my home and buying additional unnecessary items, when I eliminated “obligations” — like social events with acquaintances — from my calendar, I was left with time. This time is now used for practicing yoga and taking walks around my neighborhood.
There are studies that show a connection between clutter and anxiety/depression, so it makes sense that my anxiety would improve as I decluttered.
I didn’t know of this connection at the time, though. As I developed a calm environment in my home, my thoughts began to stop racing.
Gratitude and Contentment
Part of developing a minimalist mindset is becoming content with what you already have. I have enough. I am enough. I do not need more stuff to be a whole person.
Daily, I write in a gratitude journal to remind myself to be thankful for all I have. Evidence has shown that expressing gratitude is a quick path to happiness.
Living with Intention
I now practice living with intention. I am the curator of my life, not only the curator of my belongings. Just as I decided which physical items to discard or keep, so I also decide what is discarded or kept from my schedule. I pick my priorities, and I “declutter” anything that doesn’t support them.
Life doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s the excess that is making us unhealthy. But when we remove the unwanted parts, we are able to live more freely in our purest life.
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