“Never underestimate the importance of abandoning crap you don’t need.”
Eight years ago, I decided to embrace minimalist living.
At first, the reasons were simple. I was spending too much of my life caring for possessions and I was wasting too much money on stuff I didn’t need. These possessions were not bringing me joy or lasting happiness. Even worse, they were keeping me from the very things that did.
Possessions had become a great distraction in my life. And the most effective way to fully recenter my life on the things that mattered most was to remove the excess physical possessions from my home and life and practice minimalism.
Since then, I’ve been asked countless times if I think minimalism is just a phase. I always answer the same, “Absolutely not.”
Minimalism is a better way to live. It brings freedom, clarity, and opportunity. And each of us should consider embracing it in our own unique way. Consider these six reasons.
6 Reasons to Embrace Minimalist Living
1. More opportunities to pursue what’s most important. Our lives are important. Why would we waste them pursuing things that aren’t? Physical things always perish, spoil, or fade. But love, joy, purpose, contribution, and compassion stand eternal. Our lives would be better lived pursuing them. Minimalism provides that opportunity.
2. More intentionality in all areas of life. Countless voices and messages seek influence in our lives. They desire to shape what we believe, what we buy, what we watch, what we eat, and how we live. Intentionality brings life back under our control. Minimalism jumpstarts intentional living by forcing us to identify our values. As a result, we can better identify how we have been swayed by artificial influences.
3. More space to live our fullest life. Our lives require space. But in a world of ever-increasing speed, time for reflection becomes more and more difficult to discover. Owning fewer possessions means less cleaning, less organizing, less repairing, and less financial burden. It frees up time, energy, and space—space that can be spent examining life to make sure we are living it to the fullest.
4. More focus on contribution. Even if for selfish reasons, it is wise for each of us to evaluate where we seek meaning. Happiness found in living life for personal gain is short-lived, never fully satisfying. On the other hand, using our resources for the purpose of improving life for someone else offers lasting joy. Moving our focus from personal gain to personal contribution is not always the result of embracing a minimalist lifestyle, but it does become much easier.
5. More flexibility for life change. Over the past eight years, our family has made some significant changes. We have changed careers. We have moved to a smaller home. We have discovered new hobbies. We have changed the way we spend our money. And we have changed many of the habits that define our lives. In each of the examples listed above, minimalism helped make the change possible. One of the greatest benefits of living with fewer possessions is freedom—freedom to live and change and improve—even if the specific changes are up to you.
6. More inspiration for others. Our world is losing itself in consumeristic pursuits. Home sizes are growing, but happiness is not. We chase paychecks rather than influence and success rather than significance. The results of these choices have proven detrimental: stress, anxiety, fatigue, and regret. We need new inspiration. We need more people rejecting consumerism and choosing life instead.
Embrace minimalism for yourself. Embrace minimalism for your family. Embrace minimalism for the world around you. Because the stakes are high.
I started last summer and read these blogs and comments daily. One thing that stands out to me is out of all the life changes people make (e.g. diets), the individual version of minimalism remains a permanent change. I rarely see people who, once turned on and learn the feeling of having the clutter shackles off, never change back.
Never has a change been easier and hit me with so much permanence. My shopping habits changed so much for either things I truly need or absolutely love – anything else I put in the shopping cart stirs up feelings that it is immoral. I never ever want to go back to that place of letting tangibles control my life.
I just found your site and I have found kindred spirits. I have come to know and engender what you’re talking about but I didn’t know how to describe it even to myself – Buddhism seemed not quite it. I like your purely secular approach. My often-repeated comment was that I felt like my possessions owned me. Over the past few years I have continually jettisoned non-essential possessions and felt the freedom you talk about. I call it the backpack of life – just what’s necessary.
Hello from Croatia! Firstly, I love your blog and it is very inspirational to me. My husband is also very happy that I have stopped collecting/keeping all sorts of unnecessary things. We do baby steps in removing stuff from our house, but we are on the right way. I feel really content with every bag of things out of our house (and it’s not like we have been floating in clutter and mess until now!)
What I wanted to comment regarding the article above (and minimalism in general) is that this is the hard way for most of the people. Having stuff and taking care about stuff, keeps your mind of problems and worries. Choosing what is served to us (in commercials, flyers..), and not thinking about things we choose and buy is the easier way. This is why, in my opinion, minimalism will never be excepted in the way it should be. Consumerism is the easier way to fulfil us with a feeling of content (at least for a little while), rather than really thinking about yourself, your life and dealing with your problems.
We have two kids and third on the way. We regularly donate stuff, and I still have a feeling that we have to much things that we don’t need. We live a life that’s far from Amish :)
I also hear/feel that people, to whom I mention minimalism, thinks of it as a phase in my life (especially because I’m pregnant now), but I’m sure it is not.
I will keep finding inspiration in your blog and will not give up because I hate consumerism, I want my kids to grow up with the right values in life and I don’t want (unneeded) stress in my life and my home.
All the best,
Dina, I have the same thing. People thinking, oh no, here’s her latest thing… The worst part is that I’m also scared I won’t manage to hang on to it. I feel like I’m really clarifying what’s important in my life and I really want to keep doing that, I don’t want it to just be a phase.
Thanks, Josh for all your articles which give me such interesting ideas and motivation.
Hi Dina. Just wanted to say that I have been on the minimalist journey for many years now and have been leading a simple life since. I only wish that I had done it much sooner and could never go back. Keep on with your journey. The more you learn about minimalism and the simple life the more you will understand just what this life is all about. Your children are very lucky to have a mum like you to show them the true meaning of life.
Alan Bar says
Preach it brother!
Speaking of preaching, do you have a spiritual path you recommend that embraces and teaches minimalism. I want to ground my children in these beliefs through community, shared values and teaching.
I have a Christian background, but find myself very turned off by the American Christian Church who claim to follow a poor Jewish carpenter who owned nothing, but really seem to just care about accumulating all the same things as the culture judging from the cars they drive, the homes they live in and the churches they build.
Buddhism perhaps? I know you are avoiding religion, but I sure would live to know what faith really believes and lives this stuff?
Alan Bar says
Oh, and I am not ready to go Amish quite yet.
Kristyn M says
I love your daily reminders to let crap go! Its so easy to hold on to things we don’t need! Thank you.
I’m learning to let go of things but find it hard. Always feel really good after a good purge. One thing that helps is my absolute recoil reaction to the “must have” and “essential” labels used in advertising.
Also agree with After the Pulpit about mind clutter.
Thanks for the inspirational material.
The phrase I hear in advertising that I detest the most is, ‘the more you buy, the more you save.’ Let me fix that for you advertisers… it’s ‘the more you buy, the more you lose/spend.’ Thanks for your articles! I read them and am putting them into practice whenever I can. I’m also coming up with some guidelines of my own, inspired by your wisdom.