10 Reasons Minimalism May Be Right For You

“Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.” – Wayne W. Dyer

Minimalism as a lifestyle is a movement that seeks to pare down possessions to only the essential. Because life can be lived richer and fuller when unnecessary possessions have been removed, it is a growing trend that includes more than just young, single, 20-somethings. Many families are embracing the lifestyle as well.

And more and more are being introduced to the lifestyle every day. Perhaps, even, this is your first introduction.

Some people get nervous when they hear the term “minimalist.” For them, it conjures up images of destitution, barren walls, and empty cupboards. Rightly so, they decide that is no way to enjoy life. Believe me, I agree – that is no way to enjoy life. And since deciding to become minimalist years ago, we have been on a journey to define what it means for us and how it fits into our unique lifestyle.

We live in the suburbs of Arizona. We have two small children. We are active in our community. We love to entertain and show hospitality. While not exceptional, our life is not identical to anybody else. It is our life – nobody else’s. Minimalism, for us, would have to be unique. It would require us to determine the most important pursuits in our life and remove everything that was distracting us from it. And in so doing, we would find a new way to live life that adds richness and fullness around life’s most essential elements.

To determine if minimalism may indeed be the right lifestyle for you consider some of these questions:

1. Do you spend too much time cleaning?

If you enjoy clean, tidy rooms but don’t like to clean, minimalism just may be your answer. After all, the easiest way to reduce your cleaning time is to simply own less things. It works every time.

2. Are you trying to get out of debt?

Debt holds our life in bondage and weighs heavily on our shoulders. Getting a handle on it by buying less things is one of the most life-giving actions you can take.

3. Is there too much stress in your life?

Physical clutter results in extra stress on our lives. Minimalism removes the clutter and limits the distraction that it causes. Minimalism may be just the breath of fresh air that your home needs to help you relax and unwind.

4. Would you like more time in your day?

Consider for just a moment the amount of time that our belongings drain from our life. Whether we are cleaning, organizing, maintaining, repairing, removing, or shopping, our possessions demand a large percentage of our time. Owning fewer of them results in less time spent maintaining them.

5. Are you environmentally conscious?

Minimalism reduces our impact on the environment by requiring less resources on the front end for production and reducing the amount of waste on the back end.

6. Are you frugal?

While becoming minimalist doesn’t mean that you have to spend less money, it certainly provides the opportunity. And because you are buying less things, you also have the option to make higher-quality purchases that last longer.

7. Do you enjoy financially supporting other causes?

Minimalism provides an opportunity to not just save money for the sake of keeping it, but for using it to further causes that we believe in. After all, once you become content with your belongings and have been rescued from the race of accumulating possessions, you have no need to hoard money. You find new freedom to support the causes that you hold most dear. Recently, the Becoming Minimalist community raised over $5,000 for Charity:Water.

8. Are there things you value more than material possessions?

Minimalism seeks to intentionally promote the things in life that we most value and remove anything that distracts us from it. It allows our life to center around our deepest heart desires rather than the items on sale at the department store.

9. Are you not afraid of change?

Minimalism is a counter-cultural lifestyle that will force changes in the way you spend your time, energy, and money. Of course, almost every change is for the better… so it’s definitely worth the effort.

10. Is your life too valuable to live like everyone else?

Our heart, soul, and passions makes us valuable and unique. Don’t sacrifice your important role in this world by settling for the same temporal possessions that everyone else in your neighborhood is chasing. Your life is far too important… and short.

Your particular practice of minimalism is going to look different from anyone else. It must! After all, you live a different life than anyone else. So find a style of minimalism that works for you. One that is not cumbersome, but freeing based on your values, desires, passions, and rational thinking.

Ultimately, you will begin to remove the unneeded things from your life. As a result, you will find space to intentionally promote the things you most value and remove anything that distracts you from it.

Image: hozinja

Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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  1. says

    These are really good points and I found an improvement in life for each point you’ve listed and they are all so relevant.

    Today, we met with an attorney and set up a will. In the past, it was an overwhelming task. We owed money, we had obligations, we had tons of stuff. So many things made the task seem unsurmountable. Now that we have a “smaller” life, things are easy to keep in perspective. We finally had the freedom to address this task. We didn’t do it just for ourselves. We did it to make what we left behind easier for our loved ones. I think getting your life and affair in orders is not just for your own well being, but for those who love you and would have to clean up your mess after you’re gone. But at the same time, now we feel like we’re doing something tangible to take care of those we love.

    We needed to solve the big distractions that kept us from getting to this. Every point you listed played a part.

    • Ashley says

      Didn’t think about this but I love that actually setting up a will became easy. That’s beautiful and it doesn’t mean your any less rich.

  2. says

    A few days ago, I was shopping for mascara as I hadn’t replaced mine in 2 years and thought it high time for a change. I have been practicing minimalism for 2 years. Looking around in my cabinets, I knew exactly where everything was and how much of everything I have. I knew I didn’t have any extra mascara wands lying around uselessly. Being a minimalist, reducing clutter, and waste, being eco-friendly, all the benefits and feelings that come with it, I wouldn’t give it up for the world.

    • Jeannie says

      Thanks for your Comment “Brown”… I am in the process of clearing out that “overloaded ‘Essentials Cupboard” and plan on using up what I have and donating & giving some to others in need. I know I will feel a lot better and I am sure some of it would have gone ‘bad’ before I used it all up… what a waste of time & money!! Joshua you constantly inspire me even though I have a long way to go.. I am feeling lighter already!! :)

  3. says

    Great post Joshua. You really covered a lot of ground. So many of your points are inter-tangled with each other….You’ll find that as you get out of debt that you have less stress which leads to not being afraid of change which leads to valuing life more dearly…..It goes on and on.

    Dan @ ZenPresence

  4. Linda MacRae says

    Several years ago due to the economic turndown, I had so many responsibilities, and an apartment over run with “clutter”. I was facing homelessness, and stress beyond belief.
    My daughter and her husband decided I would move in with them and put all this “clutter” into storage! Goodness!! Just before I was moving I discovered your website along with “Zen Habits”. I fell hook, line, and sinker.
    What I didn’t want to save I threw away or gave away. I felt so free!
    After almost a year of living in my own room with my family, the things I thought were so important are not.
    My family, my respect, and my finances have finally become a matter of greater importance!
    I have such a stress free lifestyle now and am soon thinking of ridding myself of the small storage unit to end it all. Now that I have retired and can travel freely I do not want to have those responsibilities of “clutter” anymore.
    I will be able to finally spend weeks with my other children in different parts of the country and after traveling several times with a backpack, I understand how easy and sufficient it can become.
    Thank You Joshua for enticing me and letting me discover what truly becoming a minimalist really is!!

    • says

      Hi Linda,

      That is such a great story! I am early on in my minimalist journey, but stories like yours are really encouraging. I’m so glad to hear it’s working out so well for you.

  5. says

    You just listed all 10 reasons why I’ve gone minimalist. We are up to eyeballs in student loans that we are trying to pay off, and we are living out of suitcases because our jobs demand it. This plus a whole slew of reasons is exactly why I decided something just had to change!

  6. says

    Choosing to live a more minimal life has been one of the greatest decisions I’ve ever made. It forces you to put ‘things’ into perspective and, I would say, breaks the chains consumerism may have ahold of you. Plus, it’s awesome when the whole house seems so ‘messy’ and it only takes 20 minutes to totally organize or clean up. Less stuff, less stress! Thanks for this post and all you do.

  7. Southern Illinois Girl says

    Thanks for such a good post. Every single reason you listed above resonated with me, and it has been something I have been trying to practice for the last year. I absolutely detest cleaning but I love having a clean, tidy house. I realized I was spending a lot of time cleaning that I would have much rather spent doing other things, so I went on a clutter-free binge, and I have never felt so good. I spend very little time having to clean now, and I can whip the house into shape in under 15 minutes.

    And I could not agree MORE about the relationships you can develop as a result of leading a more minimalistic lifestyle. I dread busy calendars, and as a result, I rarely commit to more than one event a week. This leaves a lot of time open for me and my husband to do the things we want to do and also to do spur of the moment things when people ask. I have also developed a wonderful relationship with an 88-year-old neighbor lady who I love dearly. I would have never been able to do that with a jam-packed schedule.

    Thanks for your articles. I look forward to reading them, and they are a constant source of inspiration.

  8. Bryanna says

    Love it! And with two little kids as well, they don’t care about all the “stuff” as much as they genuinely want YOU! Wonderful post and inspirational to continue to move forward even in the midst of a hectic schedule of demands and responsibilities! Thank you.

  9. says

    Hi Joshua,

    You list so many great reasons to go minimalist here. We are starting to pare things back as a family, it’s little complicated at times, but each small success makes such a difference.

    One of our main motivations is to try and provide an uncluttered environment for our young children. Even with the small steps we’ve already taken I can see a difference in the way they relate to things, and how happier they are in a more spacious environment.

  10. says

    I love this- all of these reasons, among others I found at The Minimalists and Zen Habits were what led me to becoming a minimalist three years ago. When we lived at a house, I looked around and realized we had all of these unused rooms with bits and pieces of stuff lying around, boxes hidden in closets etc. We were desperately unhappy, working a gazillion hours, had a baby on the way, a pocketful of debt, etc etc. Slowly as I emptied our house of stuff (and it was interesting- week by week, various charities would come by and pick up stuff that would be loved by someone else), I realized I didn’t miss it. The first happiest moment was when I gave most of our furniture away to a couple of military people who couldn’t afford new furniture and the second was when I noticed that our moving truck was only half filled and it only took the movers 30 minutes to unpack us. Fast forward to present: with 3 kids in a 2 bedroom apartment, we’re still pretty happy but I’m noticing clutter is starting to accumulate and I don’t know how to stem the tide. Any ideas?

  11. Madeline says

    My husband and I downsized from a too-large home last summer. We had so many beautiful and “unique” pieces of furniture, books, glassware, dishes,clothing..where did it all come from? We were “peace and love”hippies in the 60’s-70’s.. but as we began to work, we began to accumulate. It began to be a burden, as we move towards semi retirement.

    We had to sell a lot of stuff to fit into our new smaller home. Some of our handmade furniture was too expensive for the young couple looking at it..they LOVED our handmade dining set and also the bedroom set.They could only afford one set. They made a choice.

    A week later this unique stuff was simply not selling on craigslist–I told my husband I wanted to call the young couple and GIVE THEM the whole other set. He was incredulous, he though ti was “worth some money!” Then he broke out in a big grin.Wow..what fun to call them and tell them to ust come over and pick up the rest of the furniture!!!! Then I discovered the young gal was pregnant with their second child.Joy!

    After that we started quickly giving away all the “STUFF” that did not readily move off craigslist.

    We donated 35 years worth of books we were hoarding.We kept only three shelves of our favorites.. which fit into the small bookshelf in our new smaller home.

    We are so happy with this shift towards less.We are not yet minimalist, maybe never..?? But we’re become much more selective, we feel liberated at not having to clean,insure, move, and think about too many possessions..and I think we’ll just keep getting better and better at this–we enjoy reading how others are doing the same…

    • Laurie J. says

      What a beautiful story, and so apropos in this season when so many spend so much to buy and gift things which simply end up as clutter. Thanks for sharing, Madeline!

  12. Laurie J. says

    This is such a great post, nicely showcasing the benefits and blessings of living with less stuff. I’ve been reading you since the early days (when you wrote in lower case!) — thank you for always inspiring me and others!

  13. says

    Thank you for the inspiration. I am striving to become minimalist, but get intimidated by extreme ideas. It’s nice to identify with these questions–but also know there is not one right way to answer them.

  14. Ree says

    Thanks so much for sharing, Madeline! I thought I was the only “nut” out there just giving “valuables” away! LOL I am doing almost the same thing as you…anticipating an “empty nest” along with a long-distance move next year, I have begun weeding out “things” in my home. Although I am not as minimalistic as I strive to be, it seems like there is always more I do not need :) My husband has been in shock that instead of selling quite “valuable” items, I have been trying to bless folks by giving them away to those who have a need for them, but I know could never afford them. I sometimes feel as though I am getting a bigger blessing giving them away <3 And I am having a blast!

  15. says

    Great post!

    I do think that for a lot of people, minimalism is somewhat beneficial. It promotes productivity, allows one to focus at a higher level, etc. I’m sure there’s the rare case in where someone just can’t bring themselves to live in such a way, but everyone’s different.

  16. Madeline says

    Our down sizing /minimizing stories go on and on: I had a ton of “costume ” jewelry I wore a lot when I worked more. I put it all together and decided it was not worth much, decided to donate it to the thrift store up in a small mountain town where we vacation,2 hours from home. I also had a few other pieces that had sat in my jewelry box for years.. a watch on a long chain, a few bracelets..i thought “maybe” they were even “good ” pieces..I guess I had them so long i forgot what they were and where they came form.. I certainly never wore them.

    in our moving frenzy I threw them in with the other stuff. off to the thrift store.

    Months later, at the thrift store, the clerk told me “someone” (we had donated anonymously) had donated some “really good stuff” they had taken it to the jeweler in the next big town over, and they collected enough money to fund the FREE DINNER program at the Senior Center for a good while..

    I felt at first: OH NO!! I gave away the farm!

    then, I immediately felt:Joy.

    I had that stuff UN-used in my closet for YEARS, DECADES even.Of course, I could have “used the money” for moving expenses, if I had taken the good stuff to a jeweler.. but.. I lived without that money for decades and it went to a fabulous cause..
    So– I consider it “paying forward..”

    All I can say is, when you start to move towards a more minimalistic life, all kinds of miracles and magic start happening.. and you will become a new person as you move into simplicity and gratitude..this year has been– incredible! (sorry for looooong post.)

  17. Madeline says

    Bryanna: I notice you mentioned 2 kids and “stuff” in a comment. My husband and I raised our son in the days when we had very little, and I chose to stay home.We had 1 car, ate a lot of beans and hamburgers! LOVED EVERY MINUTE! Our son did not get all the latest toys or gadgets but he’s all grown up now and is still close to his mom and dad! He does not recollect feeling “deprived” in any way…

    Those early (frugal!) years were so precious–NONE OF US thinks about the “stuff”–we only remember pot luck new years parties where all our kids and babies slept on the adults beds while we danced, ate and relaxed, also, the days in the park, the rental move nights, the nights playing cards in each others homes..all good,basic joyful activites, no “stuff” needed!!

    Spend less. work less! and enjoy MORE!

    • says

      Yes, I completely agree. Our days are full of fun and while we strive for more (time) freedom, our two girls are so loved and adored. “Compared” to most, we have little, but to us, there’s still so much to give away and focus more in our life in being intentional with our faith, family, friends, and finances. I do have two small business and have a “busy” life, but so thankful to have my first work be at home, taking care of my little ones, with lots of tickle and floor time.

      I, too, grew up having VERY little…but did so enjoy playing rummy or checkers with my daddy!

      Thanks the encouragement and motivation!

  18. Madeline says

    Bryanna– it sounds like you have all of your priorities straight– you will reap the rewards now, and again , in the future!!!!! Happy Holidays to you and your family–

    • says

      ;-), Madeline, a lot of priorities, but a long way to go; especially this priority of sleep! ;-) Merry Christmas to you and everyone else looking to simplify and focus in 2013.

  19. says

    All wonderful descriptions, but point 10 was the one the really rang true for me. You start to realise how valuable time and your attention really are when the ‘stuff’ is gone. How dare people and things of no consequence try to use up our time, a priceless commodity. We never know how much we have, so far better to spend this resource on the people and experiences we’re passionate about. Far better that, than following the consumerist herds all running to the next big thing. Different is good.

  20. Ronica says

    Thank you for the inspiring post! I’ve been on my slow journey since last July. Still have a very long way to go. But I know it’ll be worth it.

  21. Sheryl Harley says

    Such a wonderful post. Absolutely love moving deeper and deeper into minimalism and seeing how so many aspects of my life change for the better along the journey. I was touched so much by an earlier post about a lady forming a loving friendship with her 88-year-old neighbor lady. God teaches us this, too, in telling us to care for the widows and orphans. With a simpler, more meaningful life, we’re more likely to accomplish this. Thank you. Thank you.

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  23. says

    Hi Josh – any tips for being minimalist with small children (toddlers)? Toys are overwhelming but I want to get the kids the stimulation and learning tools they need! Thanks in advance!

  24. Lynn says

    It is amusing, though, that in order to read the Simplify book I would, in fact, have to buy a kindle !!! Guess I’ll check my local library…..

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  26. says

    I have been working on minimizing in my home (and life!) for a year now. I haven’t found the process hard. I think in my mind I was very ready for a lifestyle change and agreed with a lot of the ideas of minimalism – like life is about living and people – not things. But as each month passes, I find more and more things that I don’t need in my home. Over the past year, I have donated or sold to consignment no less than 40 totes from storage of clothes, home appliances/décor, kids clothes and toys. Trashed at least 20 bags of garbage and recycled at least 40+ bags. This weekend, as I made another pass through the house I realized how much more I am still holding on to but not using or need. I’m no where near sparse (For e.g. I probably have 40 towels that I know could very easily become 10 towels if I eliminated all the ratty ones.) This has been the most surprising revelation to me. As I progress, the less I need. After a couple months pass, I take a look in cabinets, rooms, closets and realize I have so much more that could go. But I’m loving every moment of it. :) And I love my home even more now than before because its not overwhelming to live here. I can certainly attest to the cleaning part. Much easier these days!

    • ccattwood says

      This is my experience as well! Every time I think I am down to the bare minimum essentials, I wait a while, and start over, seeing as I still have too much :). Fabulous journey, I love it.

    • Island Mom says

      That sounds like my story exactly. I am taking it little by little and enjoying it immensely. So much stuff has been donated! After reading this blog today, I am anxious to “do another round”!

  27. Craig Pinkney says

    Some good points I am always mortified at the caoss at the boxing day sales they say it has become part of the aussie culture , what does that say about it………theres a saying that says people are spending money they dont have to impress people they don’t know! How true and stupid is that!

  28. Devon says

    Love this blog and enjoyed this post.

    I’ve been minimizing for the past four years or so. I’ve concluded there really is no end point but is a constant process that ebbs and flows.

    While I fundamentally like the minimalist philosophy/lifestyle, a lot of the changes I implemented in my life were motivated by necessity because I was traveling independently and moved internationally. I’m now finally in one place for a while which I’m really thrilled about but have caught myself allowing more purchases than I used to. I still don’t have tons but am accumulating a bit more. Mostly this accumulation is clothing, as I’m female and do like fashion and to “express myself” with clothes but also bc I need some for work. Being in one place without the prospect of moving I feel now like I can build up a bit of a wardrobe but I don’t want to undo all the work I’ve done. Any typos from anyone out there who’s experienced something similar?

  29. Suzanne Pontius says

    Great post–very inspiring. I call what I am moving towards Comfortable Minimalism. My husband and I want to retire to a smaller house in the next couple of years, so I am doing my part to get ready for that by cleaning out the house we have lived in for 26 years. Some parts are easier than others, but it will get done! Thanks for the encouragement.

  30. Carolyn Jones says

    As I’m downsizing, I put what I can on Ebay, the money (over 1k so far) had gone directly to pay off a bill via PayPal. Then what else I have or what doesn’t sell goes on the online yard sale, after that it’s donated locally…the process is getting tedious tho, may start donating the rest…feels so freeing.

  31. Fiona Cee says

    i’d be happy with half to 1 third less than what’s lying around now but it’s SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO hard to just begin. Looking after an aged, unwell mother full time with all the washing associated with incontinence just floors me. not to mention the broken sleep which i need just renders me incapable of thinking about it. sadly i can’t get any help from anyone either. they [bro and sis] are happy to help outside but we don’t LIVE outside!

  32. Patti says

    Very good article! I’ve been very interested in doing this and have been working on it drawer by drawer, closet by closet. I’m no hoarder, but I know I have too much stuff I don’t use or want. I. Trying to get rid of everything that isn’t necessary or essential. I feel lighter already!

  33. says

    Wow, I am trying to do a mental pros and cons as to why this would be a good choice for myself. Just separating from a ten year relationship where every possession seems to have an emotional attachment. I realize I am not my things. Tomorrow I’m facing the daunting task of collecting several totes and boxes along with misc junk and bringing it all into my living arrangement, that is not my home. I don’t want to be overwhelmed by my stuff. It has taken several days of packing all these material things just for me to what, be overwhelmed that my boxes will only serve as a painful reminder as to why they are in boxes. I dread tomorrow. I hope that I can muddle this over and really try when I’m more emotionally ready to weed through things and focus on the essentials and it may keep what’s really important in perspective.

  34. Lisa says

    I appreciate your site and your writings and have been encouraged in our efforts at minimizing our home. These reasons are all valid and make good points to share with others wondering why I am on a “cleaning binge”. Thanks for writing it.

    (My one disagreement here is with the opening. Purely personal, in that seeing anything from Wayne Dyer – who is so polar opposite from our family’s beliefs that to a degree, it colors the issue at hand – almost made me skip the article altogether. )

  35. says

    This blog has inspired me to truly embrace this season in my tiny studio apartment in downtown Phoenix rather than looking at it as a transition. Now that I have cut back, I have a lot more time and money to play, give, and save. This is the best living situation I have had on a long time, I am less stressed than ever before, and have no plans to leave.

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