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Introduction to Minimalist Lifestyle

minimalist decor white vase with dried flowers

Minimalism and minimalist lifestyle concepts have been around for years, yet it’s not always easy to understand what that is all about or how to apply them to our lives. Do we need to get rid of all our stuff? Completely change our lifestyle? Start dressing in monochrome? Live in a small apartment with only strictly necessary furniture and no commodities? 

Panic! Certainly, that is not for everybody. When it comes to extreme minimalism, it is more of a niche lifestyle. That’s what we see in minimalist designer expressions. White room with one white chair and nothing else. It might be nice to look at. But only a few would be able to live in a similar context. 

So the good news? Minimalism is much more than that. And minimalist lifestyle can be and should be very individual. Minimalism means different things to different people. And minimalist lifestyles can vary immensely between them. 

So what is minimalism? 

Minimalism is a tool to free up mental and physical space for what’s important and what matters in life. In a minimalist lifestyle, everything we possess should have a clear purpose. We should not own any excess stuff. Minimalism allows us to live our lives with purpose and intentionally. 

minimalist fashion woman dressed in black

Why do we need to consider a minimalist lifestyle?

We live in a consumer culture where our success is measured by how much stuff we own. So we are always hunting for another cool outfit, gadget, car, bigger house etc., trying to buy our way to happiness. 

All of us are trying to find meaning in life. A sense of achievement, gratification, and belonging. And it is hard because of all the external noise. We know what ideal life looks like as we see it beautifully packaged in television, magazines, advertisements, posters etc. Buying stuff, living in a large mansion, dressing in expensive designer clothes and owning a new fancy car and the latest smartphone are fundamental to our happiness. And so we continue to strive for more every day. But no matter how many things we can accumulate, we never feel content. We might look very successful, but we are rarely satisfied.

Are we all going mad? Well, yes and no. The entire consumerist system is designed that way. We are constantly bombarded with advertisements aiming to convince us that the items they sell are necessary to upgrade our lives. New products are coming out every day. We buy a new mobile phone, and in a few months, a new model is coming out, making us resent the one we have and igniting a sense of inadequacy. And what about fast fashion? Brand new collections are coming out every week now? Do we need to buy a new clothing item every week to keep up with the Joneses? 

multiple shopping bags with random goods

“We really must understand that the lust for affluence in contemporary society is psychotic. It is psychotic because it has completely lost touch with reality. We crave things we neither need nor enjoy.”

Richard Foster, 1940s

This is just plain overwhelming! And that’s what a minimalist lifestyle can contrast. What we are looking for here is to find a real purpose in life, a sense of fulfilment and ditch all the superfluous. 

Transitioning to a minimalist lifestyle

Transitioning to a minimalist lifestyle is different for everyone. We need to decide what matters in life, what is the most important. We need to create space for that, both mental and physical. 

There are no strict rules here. One can go cold turkey and convert to a minimalist in one day, and one can take it slow and explore new waters one bit at a time. Eventually, we will say goodbye to most of our mental, physical and digital clutter.

Remember that minimalism is not only aesthetics. Minimalism and aesthetic minimalism are two different things. As a minimalist, you can have crazy patterned and colourful pieces as soon as they serve a purpose and are frequently used. Aesthetic minimalism would require certain simplicity and neutral colours.

white sofa in white surroundings extreme minimalist interiors

Minimalist lifestyle. Where do I start?

Stop buying stuff for the sake of buying. You will need to get to the point where you are free from consumer culture, the overwhelm and a sense of inadequacy because you do not own the latest trends. Minimalists do not focus on trends at all. We will no longer hunt for short-lived fashion, home decor and technology trends. 

Focus on relationships and experiences. Spend more time with your family, friends, and loved ones. Go and see places, explore, travel, and try new things. Life can be vibrant and fascinating without needing to spend much money. 

Declutter. Clear your living space of all unnecessary items that serve no purpose or have no real value to you. 

Be mindful of what you buy and what you bring to your home. Do you need it? Can you use something you already own? Can you borrow or rent it instead? Is the item sustainable? When I do not need it anymore, can it be recycled?  

Quality over quantity. Only buy good quality, durable and responsibly produced items. 

Simplify every area of your life.

Reduce technology use time: less TV, less scrolling. Opt for a face to face conversations, time in nature, or just reading a good book. 

“If one’s life is simple, contentment has to come. Simplicity is extremely important for happiness. Having few desires, feeling satisfied with what you have, is very vital: satisfaction with just enough food, clothing, and shelter to protect yourself from the elements.”

The Dalai Lama, 1935

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