Look around your living space.
You have probably come to the realization that all those little tchotchke, thingamabobs, and doodads are taking up so much of your physical space.
You probably have much more than little gizmos here and another one there. Like most people, it is very likely that you have piles and piles of clothes, tens of kitchenware, tons of shoes, plenty of electronics.
Other than crowding your physical space, this stuff also clutters your mental and emotional space. Yes, having so many things to deal with, organize, retrieve, take care of, and put away can drain you mentally and take a toll on your emotional wellbeing.
But even with this realization, why is it so hard for most people to just get rid of this stuff? There is a lot of talk about the minimalist lifestyle and I for one, embraced it many years ago and consider it to be the best decision I ever made. A growing number of people are choosing to live with less so that they can attain more freedom and even cut back on their overall spending.
Adopting a minimalist lifestyle is not as easy as just waking up and giving it all up. One of the reasons why really living with less is so difficult for most people is because of the misconceptions we have about this kind of lifestyle.
If you want to start de-cluttering your life, living with less, and following through with this for the long haul, it’s important to let go of these myths.
Living with less is not about punishing yourself or living below your comfort level. Obviously, if you feel that the entire process is pernicious, you probably won’t stick with it for too long. The minimalist lifestyle is about giving up those things you really do not need, like those extra 50 pairs of shoes, that other TV in your bedroom, those 2 extra cars in your garage, those piles and piles of old clothes that you haven’t worn in ages. You get the point. You most likely have a lot of stuff that you do not use and your life will not fall apart if you gave up those things.
Fact: Your comfort is very important if you want to successfully pursue a life of less. It’s not about punishment or extreme sacrifice; it’s about freeing up your space reasonably.
Of course, you need to plan! You need to plan for any major life event or life changing actions you want to pursue. Living the life of less requires you to prepare yourself mentally, emotionally and financially. It really isn’t about leaving it all behind suddenly. If you are looking to live with less so you can travel frequently, you need to have your finances in order. If you have a family with kids and you are looking to drastically simplify your home life, you need to prepare everyone for this. Admittedly, just as clutter can have an impact on your mental and emotional health, de-cluttering also comes with emotional and mental consequences.
Fact: Taking some time to plan for your transition into a minimalist life will save you from the emotional/mental shock that can prevent you from sticking with it for the long term.
In a world where consumerism is the norm, pursuing a minimalist lifestyle can be quite at odds with lots of people in your life. As you may already know, the people closest to us, with all their right intentions, can be obstacles to our progress. It will not always be easy trying to explain to your friends and family why you are adopting a different lifestyle. In fact, doing what’s different from the norm can be a source of conflict with your close ones and it can derail your efforts. Instead of trying to convince everyone and justifying your decision to go minimalist, keep things light by acknowledging that this minimalist lifestyle works for others and it is not for everyone. And then go for it.
Fact: Your friends and family will likely think you are weird. You do not have to isolate anyone. You also don’t have to engage in debates about why you are pursuing this different lifestyle. Keep your focus on minimizing and what it means to you.
It is entirely possible to give up extreme consumerism. The idea is not to get so caught up in the myths that you forget why you started the journey in the first place. In the end, you can live with what you really need and make this your default lifestyle.
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