The real reason minimalism is growing so popular so fast
If you like the idea of minimalism, but find yourself not yet quite ready to commit, here’s some good news — you don’t have to.
This may sound surprising, but there are no rules. It’s all personal.
In fact, when you first try minimalism, it’s a bit like baking your own birthday cake. You can flavour, design, and shape it exactly how you like it.
And although everyone’s experience with the minimalist lifestyle is different, when long-term minimalists are asked to name their favourite benefits, they reveal a pattern.
The top popular habits on each of their lists are similar. And amazingly, these practices can positively influence anyone’s life. Even yours. Even when you’re not yet completely sure how far you want to take it.
Just start with the frosting. And see how you feel about the rest of the cake later.
Collect moments, not things
This happens to be a top Instagram hashtag, and it couldn’t be more spot-on.
Things pile up and collect dust. Experiences create lasting memories and open up new perspectives.
I’m not saying you should buy your mum a bungee-jump (unless she expressed interest of course), but investing time or money into doing things together with your favourite people always pays off.
Building memories goes far further than buying things. You get to know your friends better. You grow stronger bonds. You have a good laugh (or a cry, but it’s ok — that makes your friendship grow too).
And most importantly, you learn more about yourself. So go on, push those limits. It’s time for quality time.
Be assertive about your choices
Even with your friends. Correction: especially with your friends.
If your priorities have changed, and you no longer enjoy expensive shopping binges, let your friends know. It’s ok to change. It’s a bit like quitting alcohol— a true friend will understand and support you.
If your birthday is fast approaching, and you don’t feel like dealing with a load of cute but ugly silly-mugs, be bold, and suggest no presents. Then, ask everyone to bring their favourite party food instead. Most friends will love the idea, knowing they are contributing something enjoyable. Deep-fried Mars bars, anyone?
Anything you actually need? Make a wish-list. Who says gift lists are limited to weddings, anyway!
Make space for mindfulness
As you learn to be intentional with your choices, you gain more mental clarity. Your priorities become clearer. You make space for awareness.
When you remove some physical clutter from your apartment or wardrobe, your mind gets a clear out too. As you sort through piles of stuff deciding what to let go, your state of mind follows suit. Many people report less anxiety, more clarity, and overall better mood as a result.
Morning gratitude shifts your mindset. There’s beauty in the little things we take for granted every day. We spend so much time worrying about the future. It helps to appreciate what you already have.
Make space for some creativity. Balance out the time you spend consuming.
The creative process is a fantastic outlet for suffocated feelings and lingering doubts, but even better, for joy. What you make doesn’t have to be spectacular. It can be as messy as you like. The cool thing is, you made it.
Everyone is born an artist. Just give it a chance. Let yourself surprise yourself.
You’re not any less adult if you rent
Here in the UK, we are constantly spoonfed that owning a place should be our top aspiration. Even if it means we bury ourselves in debt, and work ridiculous hours our entire life just to crawl back above the ground.
But the truth is, not everyone who rents has ‘climbing the property ladder’ written on their list of life goals.
Sure, when you rent your apartment, you are filling someone else’s pocket. But you’re also free of additional responsibility. You’re leaving the hard work and expense of maintenance on someone else’s shoulders. You’re not trapped in mortgage prison. You’re free to give notice whenever you want to move on.
While owning a place does have its perks, it also isn’t for everyone, and that’s ok. You are free to choose.
Having the freedom to choose what makes your life easier, no matter what the societal ‘norm’ might be, is at the very core of all minimalist principles.
Create your own version of financial freedom.
Ease into the present
A lot of us tend to be obsessive about planning every single detail of our day. If we’re not busy enough, something’s wrong.
But sometimes we just need to let things roll on their own. Being spontaneous in real life just means allowing yourself not to do stuff you don’t feel like doing sometimes.
If you’ve had enough today, skip the dinner prep and just let yourself rest. If this is the day you end up eating beans on toast, so be it. Don’t worry about it.
It’s ok not to be busy. Rest is the most underrated, yet the most important part of your self-care.
The same way you get rid of the unnecessary items that you trip over in your living room, you can also avoid a needless activity to make space for something enjoyable. If you’d rather read, or go on a bike ride, just do it. The world is not going to stop turning because you haven’t ironed your shirts yet.
Doing what you enjoy regularly and often, restores your mental energy to deal with real responsibilities. Trust your judgment. You know what’s truly important.
When my boyfriend and I moved apartments some time ago, most of our water glasses smashed to pieces on the way. (It might’ve had something to do with me refusing to buy bubble-wrap — because, you know, no excuse for single-use).
We were just about to drive to the homeware store when I noticed the cute hexagon jar containing our favourite brand of strawberry jam. 2 years and a cupboard full of collected jam jars later, we still don’t drink from anything else.
Giving a new purpose to what you already have can sound boring at first. But I was surprised how often it turned out the opposite.
Whether you drink out of jam jars, cut some old t-shirts into crop tops, or give a tired piece of furniture a new coat of paint, you might find the results much more fun than first expected.
Think about all the items you can prevent from topping up our ever-growing scary mountains of landfill.
Become a conscious consumer
In today’s climate, very few things are more important than watching carefully where your money goes.
Your money is your vote for what you want the world to be.
I never used to think about the consequences of my spending habits. And when I did learn more, I didn’t like what I saw. Especially when it came to the practices of major corporate giants in fast fashion, some entertainment brands, and food industries.
Look up the practices of the businesses you buy from. Learn to recognize vague statements and manipulative lies. When you can, try to spend in line with your ethics and personal values.
See what you can find in your local area. The local economy thrives when people choose to support family businesses, community gardens, charity shops, quirky upcycle yards.
When you support a small business, you’re supporting a dream.
When you buy from private sellers on sites like eBay or Depop, you’re supporting a human.
When we impulse-shop we give in to temptation, without allowing ourselves a second thought. You don’t want to hear the little voice of doubt at the back of your head. No. You want the shoes.
It happens to all of us, and it’s annoying. 9 times out of 10, the rush we get from an impulse-purchase wears off before we even get home. Afterward, all we’re left with is the pain of dealing with an unwanted item, and a drained wallet.
Luckily, there’s an easy trick to reduce impulsive decisions. Make a list. Have a clear picture of what you want to find before you leave the house.
I know, it’s the opposite of spontaneous, and it sounds irritating. But try it. Just this once.
If you’re tempted to buy an item that isn’t on the list, give yourself 24 hours to think about it. See if it’s really good enough for you to come back for.
You’ll thank yourself tomorrow.
Skip fashion trends
If they don’t make you feel good.
You already know your style. Your style is what makes you feel yourself. It’s what makes you comfortable, confident, enhanced. Notice those clothes, appreciate them, and sell the rest.
A minimalist wardrobe might be smaller. But when you keep it full of items you love, it’s a lot richer, compared to a wardrobe rammed full of trends you can’t bear to choose from.
You’ve probably heard about the hanger-turning trick before, and for a good reason — it’s still the easiest way to track your real favourites.
Every few weeks, turn all your hangers one way, and when you wear an item, return it back with the hanger turned over.
You’ll quickly get an idea about what works for you the most, and the results might surprise you.
Pick your favourites first
Instead of getting stuck trying to decide what to get rid of, start with picking your favourites.
The rest will work itself out.
Any particular pile of stuff will be much easier to deal with, once it doesn’t contain anything you actually love.
Next, take the things you know have been useful in the past. Anything you can give a new purpose? Anything you would miss?
You know what to do with the leftovers.
Remember, it’s personal.
Tailor your own version of minimalism, exactly how it suits you best.
That’s the only way it’s going to make sense.
Don’t make it stressful for yourself.
By all means follow other people’s recipes, but only to seek inspiration, not instruction.
Do it your way.