We all tend to accumulate our fair share of stuff over the years, but we could also stand to purge now and then. A new trend is catching on lately that has people buying less and holding onto fewer things. This mindful movement is called Minimalism, and it’s a positive step in the right direction for individuals and our planet. Minimalists share the same belief that things are not as important as the people and experiences in life and that too much stuff can weigh us down both physically and mentally.
Don’t you find that it’s much easier to focus in a space that’s less cluttered? In this clearer space, there are fewer distractions which will help you direct your attention on what you’re doing. If you find that you function better in an uncluttered setting and you value beings over objects you may find you enjoy embracing minimalism. You can work your way to becoming a minimalist by starting out slowly, or you can jump right in if you’re excited to get going on a life change. Here are five steps toward becoming a minimalist.
1. Discover your personal values.
In any situation in life, it’s so important to know your core values and understand how these personal values motivate you. You can start out by writing down the three things you value most in life. For example, you could value your friendships, new experiences, and artistic expression, these would be your main core values. These will be somewhat different for everyone, but there will be some similarities between like-minded people. This shows you that you place value on meaningful things rather than materialistic items, which gives you a clear focus, making it easier to prioritize and do a good purge.
2. Do a big purge.
Next, you’ll want to take inventory of your belongings. This works best if you can work on one area at a time. So you could start with your wardrobe, laying every item of clothing in one place so you can take a good look at all of your stuff. You can ask questions like, “When was the last time I wore this?” usually if you haven’t worn it within the last year, it will most likely continue to collect dust in the back of your closet, so this would be an item you could get rid of. Do the same with your bathroom items, your kitchen items, and your living room or office items.
3. Only keep what you use regularly.
This can be a hard one for people. We are wired to think that we should keep things “just in case” we need them at a future time, yet these things go unused for the better part of our lives. There are items you use every day, which are important, like toothpaste and soap, but try and keep these down to one tube or bottle per item. Beauty products are especially easy to pile up, so choose the products you use most regularly, and ditch the rest, and always use all natural products or even try and make them yourself. You can learn how to pare down the plastics you use too.
4. Look to borrow and lend.
If you’re looking for books and magazines or even music and movies, just borrow from your local library instead of buying more books and DVDs. You can also get subscriptions to online libraries like Scribd or Netflix where you pay a monthly subscription to read books and stream shows and movies on your devices. There are new initiatives in cities and towns that promote borrowing and lending over buying. There are lending libraries that have started lending out tools and household items, so people don’t have to accumulate more stuff at home, they can just borrow it. Plus it’s a great way to save money.
5. Be a conscious consumer.
A huge part of being a minimalist is to be mindful of what you’re bringing into your home and what you’re purchasing when you shop. For the most part, we don’t really need a lot of the things we purchase; we just do it to try and make ourselves feel good. Ask yourself if you really need something before you buy it, maybe you can make it yourself out of things you already have, or maybe you can borrow something from a friend instead. When you do make a purchase, be sure that the item will last and was made sustainably and even better by a local. Check out our sustainable guide to shopping for more ideas.
Starting out with these five things is a great way to get the ball rolling on a minimalist lifestyle. Being a minimalist is about simplicity and quality over quantity. It’s a lifestyle that can teach us a lot. So it’s not that you’re never going to care about owning anything ever again, it’s that your belongings aren’t weighing you down. As a minimalist, you own your stuff, and your stuff doesn’t own you, freeing you up to live and enjoy your life experience.
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