veryone knows clutter. Life is messy, and the mess can extend from the inside of your head to the confines of your home -- and if you want to get serious -- to our entire polluted planet. If we get rid of half our things, is life better? Maybe. Lots of people have tried the minimalist technique: pick up an object, ask it, “Are you contributing any sort of value in my life?” and if you don’t like the answer, you chuck it into the bin. But is minimalism worth it?

Benefits of a Minimalist Lifestyle

Minimalism wouldn’t be so popular if it didn’t have its benefits. Getting rid of a majority of your materialistic belongings will obviously have an effect, and that effect can be a sense of freedom and heavy relief.

Peace of Mind

There is clutter in your home -- piled in the kitchen drawers, overflowing from the closets, stacked in the attic. It doesn’t bother you on a daily basis, or does it? If you take the time to go through the junk and decide what you need, and throw away the rest, by the end you may find yourself overcome by a wave of relief. The small corner of your brain that was occupied with the worry over your horde of junk is now empty. You now know what’s in every closet, every cabinet, and everything is wanted. It might seem small, but less belongings is less to think about. Clearing out the collection of unwanted things may restore a sense of mental clarity.  

De-Clutter = De-Stress

This subcategory sounds like a repetition of the previous one, but while Peace of Mind refers to letting go of stress, this is actually talking about the prevention of stress. We spend a lot more time than you might realize on our overaccumulation of possessions. The clutter doubles the effort needed to find the wrapping paper. Getting from point A to point B in your home involves stepping over and around your collection of things.

Looking at this picture gives me a big serving of secondhand stress. Clutter has that effect, and ridding yourself of clutter is your first step to avoiding high levels of stress.

Sometimes the possessions take over your life, and to eliminate the clutter is to eliminate time wasting. Coming home to a space that isn’t going to get in your way -- but maybe even work with your needs -- sounds like a heavenly de-stresser that everyone deserves.  

Glow with Self-Confidence

We can establish self-confidence in a myriad of ways. In this day and age of consumerism, many find their confidence -- and sometimes their very self -- in the objects and clothes they buy. There is nothing wrong with this, as self-confidence can’t be faked, so who cares where it comes from?

A wonderful effect you may find in your minimalism progression is a new relationship with your self-confidence. You may find the establishment of your self-confidence shift from the things you own to the person you are. If this is how you want to progress in the relationship you have with yourself, then give minimalism a try and find contentment in the version of you who relies less on things.  

Money in the Bank

The minimalist way isn’t just about getting rid of things you own. It’s about buying less too. If you’re serious about minimalism, you have to break the cycle and regulate your buying habits. This doesn’t have to be as bad as it might sound. Think of the major perk that comes with buying less: having a few extra dollars in the bank.

Minimalism can help you keep more money in your pocket and become a smarter consumer

Your initial thought to this may be, what’s the point of having more money if I’m not spending it? My answer is that you are spending it, this time on the things that aren’t going to clutter your life. I guess becoming a smart consumer is an essential part of minimalism. That same question you asked your objects at home, you’ll have to ask to the objects in the store. “Will you contribute any sort of value in my life?” And if you don’t like the answer to the question, it’s going back on the shelf. This is an essential part of breaking the cycle -- it saves you the time of throwing it away later.

Live an Adventure

Minimalism will teach you to rely less on the material, which means you can better your focus on experiences. Money you would have spent on shoes can instead be put towards your trip to New Zealand. Or start smaller, putting time into going roller skating with friends, or walking in the park before getting some ice cream. Minimalism gives the opportunity of money and time. You’re clear-headed and de-stressed, and there are no excuses left to keep you from getting out of the house to do something you enjoy, and maybe even miss.

Purpose Renewal

After all the excess has been cleared away, hopefully out of mind forever, you may find yourself with a renewed sense of purpose. Minimalism is control -- you’ve taken control of your life! If you can control this part of your life, why can’t you seize control in the fields that really matter to you? Motivation is suddenly your best friend, and you have a clear mind to really think about what you want, and how you can get it. Confusion has been cleared, and you’re ready to approach your goals with new vigor.

The Planet Thanks You

And perhaps the greatest benefit of all: you’re helping the environment. A life of minimalism is a lifestyle that is creating less waste that finds itself a part of the polluting issue. This by itself should be enough to convince everyone to adapt to this lifestyle, in some variation.

Sidenote: when you’re on your purge through the house, please donate and recycle what you can.

The Problem With Minimalism

The benefits are there, this much is clear. So is there a reason, any at all, why we shouldn’t take the plunge into the minimalist lifestyle? Well, there is one problem with minimalism, and that is how we can go overboard.

Why are We Doing This Again?

Minimalism began to serve a variety of purposes, but the main goal is to fight against a culture of excessive consumerism, and make an effort of mindful decisions. No more mindless consumerism that only serves as clutter and pit you can dump your money in.

The concept is noble and in many cases, needed. But we tend to interfere with this mighty goal by taking it too far. We don’t get rid of some stuff, or most stuff. Everything goes. This doesn’t sound like something you would do, I know. What you’re forgetting to consider is the addictive satisfaction you receive upon throwing things away. There’s a permanence in it that we rarely experience, and it feels amazing.

You watch the clutter melt away, and there is so much room in your living area, and you can really feel all of those boxes out of the attic, the air is definitely lighter. You might take it too far, and throw away the things you shouldn’t.

How Useless is Sentiment?

Sentimental items are tricky, because they likely won’t have any productive value in them. Your old drawings aren’t going to help your career. The medals you won in school are just going to sit in a box and collect dust. Do you throw these items away? These objects definitely don’t have productive value, but don’t disregard sentimental value.

It can be difficult to know where to start with certain items. Don’t throw anything away because you think you have to.

Decluttering is the goal, but that shouldn’t leave your home bare like a college student’s first apartment. If you’re going to try minimalism, regulate yourself. Not everything has to go. We have funny brains that see no value at one moment, and all the value in the world in the next; a revelation made too late as you watch the garbage truck drive away with your worldly belongings.  

When holding up that sentimental item and deciding its fate, don’t be hasty. This is an item that can’t be replaced. Are you really ok with never seeing it again?

Minimalism may have a benefit in it for everyone. In the plethora of ways you can take example in this lifestyle, I think there’s a variation fit for everyone. You may need to throw everything away and start new, and you might just need to clean out those desk drawers. Reflect on the mountain of belongings that have your name on it, and ask yourself how much of it you really want.

Jan 3, 2020

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