With the release of the documentary ‘Minimalism’ in 2016 the idea of choosing to live minimally might be a tempting prospect for you. You are left with the feeling that you just might be happier if you have less. You might think that this is the answer to a stress-free, happier life! But does choosing to buy less, own less, or care less about fashion trends truly make you happier?
Minimalism has some clear ideas about “stuff” which I think is very thought-provoking and raises much needed questions in a culture where we are constantly inundated with the idea that we won’t be happy until we have…more.Because minimalism has set out some pretty clear guidelines or ways of choosing to live minimally and at the same time bring about more joy and emotional freedom – it has sparked many people’s imagination and attention! Maybe you’ve considered adopting minimalism or maybe it seems like a great idea as a concept but actually doing it is a whole other issue.
To my own ears minimalism is a a new spin on the old adage, “I’m choosing to live simply.” Whether minimalism is the answer to your own personal quest for happiness or not I am happy to hear that less can be more. Simplicity is a much needed part of our increasingly busy lives. We are all in desperate need of happiness and fulfillment in life. We all want healthier relationships, more time to do what we love and less stress.
That being said I’d like to suggest 5 different ways that you can begin living simply without adopting a whole lifestyle change. These simple steps will hopefully trigger some thoughts about how you live, why you make certain choices and start you on a path of greater freedom to live happier and more fulfilled lives.
- Be intentional. A lack of intentionality (when you choose something with intention it means that you actually put thought into it) is so often at the root of a lot of our “excessive-ness.” Simply put, when you choose intentionality you can choose simplicity. Before buying this or that thing, going somewhere or doing anything, ask yourself the question – Do I need this? What’s wrong with my old one? How might this affect my stress levels (whether financial, emotional, or mental) or the important people in my life? Will this really make my life easier, simpler and happier?
- Be outward focused. We are so often “me” focused. Yes, self-care is important, but so often we live for ourselves, choosing what is best for us, rather than thinking about it might affect others. Being self-focused is easy. This is just not a helpful or healthy way to live. This means make life and your choices more about others than about you. The outward focus means that you might choose a more ethical clothing option or volunteer or give some of your hard-earned money to those who are less fortunate than you. But when you start sharing and giving to others you will be surprised at how amazing making others happy can be!
- Take stock of what you have. I challenge you to actually look around you and assess or review what you have. Not a quick glance but a deep “I have this and this and this thing or friendship.” You may be surprised by what you find! You just might recognize that you have incredible relationships, tons of beautiful clothes and more than you possibly realized. It reminds you that you do have enough. In fact, you probably have more than enough.
- Start being thankful. This one is super easy to do and yet it is often the furthest thing from your mind! Start your day listing 2 things you are thankful for. When you are thankful you are less likely to be discontent with what you have.
- Spend some time each day praying or meditating. Life is busy. Work never seems to end, the emails just keep coming and bills pile up. You probably never stop until you go to bed at night (and even then your brain probably keeps going). You probably think you don’t even have time for this! But I know that personally, when I spend time praying, I suddenly am forced to stop and think about things in a much more meaningful and deeper way. I may still have things weighing on me but I gain perspective. Perspective that puts all the previous points in place in a single moment: I become less about me, more thankful, more intentional and much more aware of what I have been given.
Challenge yourself to live simply. Live intentionally. Be someone whose happiness is no longer found in what you do or do not have.