Note: This is a guest post by Allison Fallon, author of Packing Light.
Anyone who has embraced minimalism, in any sense of the word, knows the benefits go far beyond what you could explain in a single blog post.
Of course there are the obvious upsides of having less clutter—like fewer opportunities for your possessions to jump out of the hall closet at you next time you open the door to find your coat. But the real benefits of minimalism stretch much deeper—and wider—than that.
The Benefits of Minimalism
Here are 10 major benefits a minimalist attitude could bring to your life.
1. Clarity of mind.
We don’t think of our physical possessions being linked to mental and emotional health, but the connection between the two is undeniable.
Studies show when we clear out our closets, it has a massive impact on our mental clarity and peace of mind. Think about it. It makes sense.
When was the last time you took the time to go through your storage shed or extra bedroom and sort through all of the things you forgot were hiding in there? It may have been awhile, but how did you feel when you finally did it?
My guess is it felt like a relief. Even though you probably spent very little energy on a day-to-day basis thinking about those things, something about clearing them out calmed your mind.
That good feeling you get when you take a load of clothes to Goodwill or finally go through that junk drawer in your kitchen is backed by research. If you don’t need it, love it or use it, get rid of it.
2. Better health.
You might feel hesitant to consider that getting rid of a few physical possessions might change your health but consider this: what about clearing the things from your schedule that are unnecessary or unimportant?
Too many of us are overcommitted in our lives and if we really begin to ask ourselves why we haven’t scaled back already, we’ll find the answer is we’re afraid of disappointing someone—a terrible reason to overload our schedules.
What would it look like to cut back? Would you be able to rest more? Take better care of yourself and your family?
Minimalism takes many forms and whether you’re clearing things from your closet, your calendar, or your commitments, your body will thank you.
3. More freedom.
If you really spent some time thinking about it, I bet you would be shocked to think of how many physical possessions you own, desire to own, or work hard to own that you don’t even want—all to impress someone at your office, or even in your family.
Dave Ramsey, financial advisor and New York Times bestselling author says, “We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.”
Imagine the freedom you would experience if you could let go of that pressure and just do what you want to do. You’d have more freedom to travel, to take a day off, to work for yourself, or, hey, to take a job doing work you actually like.
4. Less stress.
Imagine a world where you didn’t have to come home to a cluttered house, didn’t have to wake up early on a Saturday morning for something you didn’t really want to do in the first place, and didn’t have to show up at the office every day for a job that made you feel like your soul was dying.
Ahhhh. Yes. You can feel it already. So much less stress.
5. More time.
In a world where opportunities are coming at us faster than the speed of light, it can be hard to say “no” for a couple of reasons.
One of them is the fear of missing out. We’re afraid if we say no, we’ll miss an opportunity to be part of something really great. The second is a fear of being bored. What will we do? Just sit around and watch Netflix all night?
Try this for one week: clear your calendar at night. Work during the day but don’t make any commitments in the evenings. Then, with that extra time, prepare dinners with the people you love, go for walks, read books.
Amazing opportunities will always be there. They’ll never run out. And I promise you’ll find a way to fill your extra time.
You may think you need to have the latest and greatest style of clothes, or that brand new boat or this year’s model of a luxury vehicle to feel good about yourself. But imagine how freeing it would be to feel good about yourself without those things. This is an unexpected benefit of living with less. You start to feel good about yourself, not because of what you own but just because of who you are.
7. Greater purpose.
When you clear out the unnecessary activities and items from your life, something unexpected happens. A clear sense of purpose returns. You feel motivated to do what you’ve set out to do because your direction is clear and there is no confusion. When you only have a few commitments, you can take them seriously.
8. Extra money.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that buying less and doing less would mean having a little extra cash on hand. Fewer birthday parties to attend, meals out because you’re “too tired to cook,” fewer impulse purchases, etc. Then, when you find something you really do want, you have the money to buy it.
9. Better relationships.
Ultimately, when you can stop competing with your friends and your family to have the nicest car or biggest house; when you can stop trying to impress people and just begin to connect with them; when you can give up your people-pleasing and just be yourself, it shouldn’t surprise you that your relationships will improve.
Great relationships are not built on guilt or competition. They’re built on shared experiences and great memories.
10. Lifetime memories.
I have a friend who doesn’t do a ton of Christmas gifts for his kids but he always takes them on a fun family vacation. His kids don’t go back to school after break bragging about their Christmas spoils, but when he asks them about last Christmas’ vacation, they can always recount fun memories.
When you begin to move the focus from possessions to memories, you might not only have more space in your closet, you’ll have enough great memories to keep you smiling for a lifetime. This is the stuff a great life is made of.