What is a Minimalist?

What the heck is a Minimalist? This time last year, I had no idea myself.

Essentially, a Minimalist lives by the concepts of Minimalism. At it’s core, it means simplicity and the ability to live a free and intentional life.

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I first heard about Minimalism whilst casually browsing Netflix after my second wasted hour of watching nothing in particular. It was THE documentary Minimalism: A Documentary about the Important Things with THE Minimalists Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus.

First impressions were mainly in the region of “huh, that’s pretty neat” with a dash of “this seems like hipster nonsense”. The concept stuck with me, but it wasn’t really until last year it started to creep into my own life. Click here to read my journey into Minimalism.

It is a tool to help you live a simpler, and ultimately happier life.

I’m sure you have lots of questions (I know I did) and in this post I’d love to help answer them for you.

What are the benefits of living a simple life?

There are many benefits to life that simplicity can bring, including:

Emotional Well-being

I like to blog about how Minimalism can have a positive effect on our emotions, particularly as a parent. Letting go of physical items in our homes has an almost immediate effect on our ability to clear our minds and let go of stress. We can focus on what and who is important to us and channel our emotions to our families and what matters most.

Physical Health

A hectic lifestyle brings a great amount of stress to our lives. Chronic stress has a detrimental effect on our bodies. This can include high blood pressure, increased risk of heart attacks, headaches, insomnia. The list goes on. With improved mental health from a simple lifestyle, our bodies can recognise this physiologically, so a simpler lifestyle could also mean a healthier one.

Goal setting

Without the distraction of a hectic lifestyle or physical items diverting our attention, we can set clear goals for ourselves. Living intentionally allows us to look to the future and decide who and where we want to be. Personal growth is the outcome of having a simpler life. It may be focussing on new employment, strategies on growing wealth, or creating an achievable five-year plan for our families.

Financial Wealth

Another huge passion on my blog is creating financial awareness for the family. I like to explore budgeting, side hustles and passive income to grow your wealth. You will begin to respect the money that comes into your life and treat it as a form of energy that can truly shape the future you desire. Imagine a life free from financial stress every month! With less physical items coming into your life and a greater awareness of what in life brings you joy, we can invest money into things that matter.

Gaining Time

The greatest commodity in life is not money, but time. When you have less clutter in your home to organise and less appointments to rush off to, you suddenly gain a wealth of time that you were previously missing. Once you can embrace time as your most valuable asset, it’s hard to think how you every lived such a manic lifestyle. Let’s not kid ourselves, life with children can still sometimes be a little overwhelming. But knowing to pick and choose what is important on the calendar can make it easier for you to utilise the hours in the day to your advantage and make it as stress free as possible.

Life satisfaction

Once all of these benefits of living a simpler life come into effect, your life satisfaction will increase dramatically. You can create the future you desire as a family unit and live life to the fullest! Hooray!

Is it possible with a family?

When you research Minimalism online you will inevitably come across many who are young, free and single. They live in a stunning apartment with zero clutter. They own a beautiful capsule wardrobe and have lots of lovely art on their walls with an abundance green succulents. Their extra income is used to travel the world because they don’t have the responsibility of their own family yet. (Can you tell I may be a teeny weeny bit jealous?)

That’s great for them, but you could technically do all that stuff with your own family. Not entirely sure about the zero clutter part, especially when thinking about toys.

However, Minimalism is extremely beneficial for a family. It teaches children the value of experiences and to have respect for their belongings. Time is more abundant and so you get to spend precious moments together and create treasured memories. There is less stress for a happier life together.

It can be difficult to achieve balance, but read my post about Becoming a Minimalist Mum for some more tips.

What does a Minimalist home look like?

Contrary to belief, (most) Minimalists do not sit in a stark, cold white room with a single chair and plant. But let’s not forget that style is unique to the homeowner, and results may differ greatly.

I often think of Scandinavian style homes, with lots of neutral tones with pops of colour and modern simple furniture. Here in the UK, this is probably one of the most fashionable styles of home décor right now.

I’m pretty into the boho style right now, and have a beautiful Pinterest board dedicated to super pretty décor with earthy tones and a natural twist. I like a rustic look and anything that reminds me of the natural world.

Organisation is key, and you can find amazing storage systems out there to contain everything from kids clothes and toys to small organisers for kitchen utensils.

How do I own less?

This can be the most difficult process of adopting Minimalism into your life, but probably the most important to begin with.

If you have a home overflowing with stuff, then it can be hard to see past anything else. But once you achieve balance in your home, and the belongings you use and love have their own homes, you can start to see the bigger picture.

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What is Decluttering?

This is one of those minimalist buzzwords that you may keep hearing about, and you may have seen Marie Kondo’s recent hit Netflix series about this. It is essentially tidying and organising everything in your home.

Begin with a small space in your home. It could be a room, or if you don’t feel up to it you could start with a cupboard or drawer. Remove and pile up everything from that area and assess each object individually before returning it. Really think about if you use it, or love it. If you can’t find a valid reason to keep it, then either sell or donate the item.

When you’re out shopping, you really begin to evaluate if a purchase is necessary. Every item that enters your home will be under scrutiny. Some have a rule that if one items enters the home then two have to leave.

How can Minimalism improve your finances?

It’s quite incredible what an effect decluttering will have on your mindset, and the knock on effect in other areas of your life, like your bank balance.

When you initially begin to declutter, you may sell some of those unwanted items. This will give your bank balance a little boost and you will probably wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.

You may decide to sell some of the items you declutter, which will be happy boost to your purse in exchange for items that were just sitting there. You will be better at budgeting after filtering your expenses, and so you will find you generally have more disposable income left over at the end of the month.

After we ditched cable TV from our budget, I began to read again. I watched YouTube videos about things that interested me. Check out one of my absolute faves Sarah Therese – a super cool Minimalist mama to three under three! (Muchos respect, Sarah) 

I listened to Podcasts and audio books whilst doing chores. Learning became my new favourite thing and I decided to put my knowledge to good use and start a small business.

I’m not sure if I would have thought beyond the realms of the sofa if we still had cable, let alone trying to utilise my skills to make our family more income.

Adopting a minimalist lifestyle will do wonders for your bank balance. It doesn’t cost a thing to live a simpler life, in fact it may even make your money blossom.

5 Things that Minimalism isn’t.

  • It isn’t a cult – We don’t gather on a full moon and burn our possessions dressed in monochrome robes. Minimalists are just regular, normal people.
  • It isn’t a fad – people are quick to label ‘extreme’ lifestyle choices a fad. Minimalism is a tool to help you live a more content life by making simpler choices. In this hectic modern world, we could all use a little more simplicity. So let’s hope this way of thinking is the new norm.
  • It’s not about going without – Minimalism allows you to decide what items in your life are important to you and which are not. Deprivation is not the aim, but having respect for what items you have is. Trying to repair an item rather than simply discarding it is a great example of this.
  • It’s not a competition – it’s not about living with the least amount of items or being better than everyone. It’s easy to think Minimalists have god complexes. We don’t, honest. Most honestly put, Minimalism is a mindful practice to live a simple and purposeful life. I simply didn’t want to be a rat in a wheel.
  • It’s not a destination – This is the most cliched but accurate saying about Minimalism. It really is about the journey, and it may begin as what seems an extreme lifestyle change, However, the further into your journey you are, the more sense the concept of living simply will become. Decluttering will become a regular occurrence, as will assessing your financial situation often.

Can Minimalism make me happier?

I hope that after reading this post I will have inspired you to perhaps delve a little deeper and really analyse your current situation. I truly believe the concept of Minimalism changed my life and I feel so much freer. Everything becomes a little quieter, a little more focused and the future isn’t anywhere near as frightening as it once was.

Will it bring you immediate happiness? Maybe. Or, maybe not. You may have other struggles in your life, but having a clearer mindset may make you more able to take on those challenges, or give you more clarity to make a decision that you have been prolonging.

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What are the steps to becoming Minimalist?

Sounds great, right? But where do you begin?

There are many beliefs of how Minimalism should be ‘practiced’. The more extreme only live with an exact number of items in their lives. I believe that there really is no right or wrong way, but there are some ways that you can gradually incorporate the underlying aims into your life.

1.    Do your research

This post is a great way to get a feel for what Minimalism is all about. But, it’s important to do your research and find out as much as you can. I shout about living a simpler life from the rooftops but it doesn’t mean it will be for everyone.

For more information on the topic:

Take a look at The Minimalists blog. As I said, it was my very first introduction to Minimalism and Josh and Ryan are the kings of simplicity.

Brooke at Slow Your Home has an inspiring blog that personally connects with me as she discovered a simpler way of life of battling postnatal depression. Go listen to her slow podcasts!

Marie Kondo is the queen of tidying up. She calls it magic, actually, and I would have to agree. Warning! Her book will make you want to organise your home

   2. Take it slow

There is no right or wrong way to embark on your new journey. Small steps can lead to big achievements. If you are beginning to declutter your home, don’t turn your whole house upside down in just one day. You don’t even have to organise a whole room. Try one drawer or cupboard per day. Breaking tasks down into achievable goals makes beginning a new process simpler and makes it easier to develop into a habitual behaviour.

   3. Connect

Reach out to friends and family members and tell them about your new adventure. It’s quite likely they are experiencing the stress of busy schedules and physical clutter just like you. Sharing your enthusiasm may lead them to join you so you have a decluttering buddy, yay! Or connect with the millions people online through blogs like this one or forums and facebook groups. The modern ability to connect with people and get support from all over the world about the passions you share is amazing – embrace it! 

I hope you have found this post helpful to clairfy what a minimalist is, or is not. Are you an aspiring Minimalist?

What have you found challenging or rewarding about the process? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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