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We live in a consumer-driven society with a rapid cyclic need to constantly upgrade our stuff and ourselves, and with the new year behind us, gyms are packed and our days start with a new sense of desire to become better versions of ourselves. But inevitably, we fall into our old ways within weeks, if not days. But what if there was a way to create deep-rooted change that will actually make a profound difference in our lives?

That’s where minimalism comes in. This concept is often associated with a hippie sort of lifestyle; one where you may be deprived of the luxuries we find comfort in. But what is un-noted are the simple steps and the immense benefits that come with living a minimalistic lifestyle. So what exactly is minimalism?

minimalism is a lifestyle meant to combat our cultural norm of constantly buying stuff

Minimalism is basically a synonym for simpler living. Every day, we are consumed with hundreds, if not thousands of advertisements for the next best iPhone, new clothes, and luxury vehicles. Our society has become reliant upon buying and keeping up with the latest trends; a cycle that is never ending. As we become more blind to this everlasting chase of having more “things” than our neighbours, we are attempting to fill the voids in ourselves with more stuff.

Minimalism may seem like a lifestyle in which one owns the bare necessities and might live in a tiny home. If this is something you want to do in life, then pursue it. In actuality however, minimalism is a philosophy in which we live a life not dominated by convenience and the need to buy and consume all that we can.

we are attempting to fill the voids in ourselves with more stuff

I will admit it seems insane to me to have to give up the luxury of convenience, but after seeing amazing stories such as Lauren Singer going zero waste in her life and The Minimalists Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, I knew living a more minimalistic life rather than a consumerist life was for me – and I’m merely one foot in the door…

For me, minimalism started because of environmentalism, but minimalism is a lifestyle meant to combat our cultural norm of constantly buying stuff. Stuff we cling to for reasons we don’t know. It can help us declutter our lives and free up space in our lives both physically and mentally.

Asking yourself the question, “does this add value to my life?” makes us think about what we truly need and what we do not.

This lifestyle isn’t saying to get rid of everything you have or to abandon the material objects that define you, but to ensure what you own becomes a part of your life and not meaningless objects just bought out of impulse or held onto because you didn’t know what to do with it.

Living minimalistically means maximizing life by simplifying it, rather than making it more complex and cumbersome in order to fulfill our lives.

does this item bring value to my life?

This leads to the first steps of living a minimalistic lifestyle:

Get rid of non-valuable possessions

Though minimalism isn’t all about getting rid of physical items, it is an important aspect. The main focal point of this aspect of minimalism is the question: Does this item bring value to my life? If so, keep it. If not, toss it or donate it. If you have trouble with this concept, a common practice in beginner minimalism is to place these items into a box and store the box away into a closet or other space. If you don’t find a need for these items within 30 days, it’s okay to throw them out.

Condense your wardrobe

Going along with ridding ourselves of useless possessions, one main source of being overly materialistic is in our closets. Look in your closet, and you will probably be able to pick out which items of clothing you love to wear and feel good in. Now take a step back. These items most likely take up a smaller portion of your closet than you thought. Getting rid of and donating clothes we don’t find ourselves wearing often, as well as duplicate items, allows us to focus on the items we find value in. One sweater that you love is far more useful than five similar sweaters you never wear. For more serious minimalists, you can try Project 333, a challenge that invites you to only dress with 33 items, including shoes and jewelry, for 3 months.

Be mindful of your purchases

Another large contributor to our reliance on materialistic items is the immense shopping industry. The thousands of advertisements we unconsciously experience each day forces us to create a false sense of need for things that do not bring a profound amount of value to our lives. This ideology also results in other harmful practices such as the Fast Fashion Industry and Slave Labor. As you make a purchase, question if the item is going to make you happier for the next month, or the next few years. If the item is useful and will bring value to your life, buy it. If it will end up sitting on a shelf or stuffed into the back of your closet, pass on it. Just by using this simple mindset, your ability to save money will be immensely increased.

While we rid ourselves of useless physical items, we can make room for relationships, experiences and self-worth that add profound value to our lives

Just by practicing these three simple concepts, your life can be opened up to a new sense of mindfulness, productivity and organisation. Though these ideas are useful for living a clutter-free life, the benefits go further; it allows us to live free from often troubling concerns such as stress, overwhelm and financial burdens. While we rid ourselves of useless physical items, we can make room for relationships, experiences and self-worth that add profound value to our lives. Though it may sound like a radical idea, living a minimalistic lifestyle is an attainable goal and one that has the potential to provide profound benefits. For more information on Minimalism, check out the film Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things, created by Joshua Fields and Ryan Nicodemus.

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