6 Benefits of Living Simply
The term "minimalism" has become a bit of a buzzword in the media over the last few years. Before I'd heard of minimalism/minimalists, I often thought of people living with the absolute necessities, biking to work everyday or eating the same thing for each meal. They were also rather frugal individuals in my mind who never went out and enjoyed themselves.
This is quite the opposite what minimalism actually is. Although the life I described above may be the case for some and that's certainly okay, the truth is most people who incorporate minimalism into their lives aren't quite as extreme because it doesn't have to be.
Minimalism is frankly a tool that has helped me accomplish a life that involves less stress, worry, sadness and has added more freedom, authenticity and intention to my life. I tend to prefer the phrases "simple living" or "living with less" and I use them interchangeably here.
While there's nothing inherently wrong with having belongings, the problem started when I assigned them more value than my passions, purpose and relationships with loved ones. I often see this happen with the use of technology-although that's a topic for another day.
Through living simply I've discovered a multitude of benefits that affect me in ways I never thought possible. And guess what? I still have an apartment full of stuff I love and enjoy.
Keep reading to find out what living with less may do for you, too. 1. Clearer Mind
“The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.” —Socrates
Implementing de-cluttering habits on a regular basis has certainly impacted my mind and head space, and it's not a coincidence either.
According to Mikael Cho with Lifehacker.com, "A team of UCLA researchers recently observed 32 Los Angeles families and found that all of the mothers’ stress hormones spiked during the time they spent dealing with their belongings. Similar to what multitasking does to your brain, physical clutter overloads your senses, making you feel stressed, and impairs your ability to think creatively."
Once I cleared out the clutter in my life I became more productive, creative and had more space for my passions in life like cooking, reading and practicing yoga. 2. Liberty of Comparison
“It is preoccupation with possession, more than anything else, that prevents men from living freely and nobly.” —Bertrand Russell
In today's society, we often see people buying the latest tech item, newest car model or fancy clothes even though what they already have functions perfectly well.
A significant contribution to our consumerist culture can be attributed to the advertising industry who promise a happier life by purchasing whatever product it may be. I don't know about you, but I would get a fleeting impulsive rush from spending my money on something that I didn't need in the first place only for it to fade away and become replaced by some other object of my desire...(which is exactly what they want).
When I started implementing a more simplistic lifestyle, I began to feel the freedom of not caring what others think about what I own, how I live or what I do for a living. The competitiveness fades away.
3. More Time
Years ago, I went shopping at a mall or outlet center almost every weekend. Now that thought makes me cringe.
I would spend countless hours perusing stores for clothes I didn't need and would most likely get an overpriced coffee or meal there while I was at it.
At the same time I had two closets (yes, two) full of clothes but somehow had "nothing to wear". It would take me forever to get dressed in the morning. The continued shopping cycle made no sense.
Now that I only own what I love wearing, it takes away one more decision for me each morning. I don't spend time shopping for things unless I need them, which eliminates impulse purchases and guilt later on for not wearing the pieces I spent my hard-earned money on.
When I have less things, I've noticed that I spend less time taking care of them or searching for them. I don't have the hassle or that overwhelming feeling trying to look for an item piled into a box I could never reach because it was stacked on top of more stuff. Although I do have that nightmare on occasion...seriously.
I also spend less time cleaning when there used to be clutter and unnecessary junk in the way of what I actually used, thus, creating more time for my interests instead.
4. Extra Money
Living with less doesn't just mean you have less items in your home, but it also implies that you aren't bringing in items without consciously deciding to. Living simply makes you aware of what you need and what you don't.
It doesn't come as much surprise that if you aren't bringing in as many new things into your home, you'll be saving money.
I've learned to develop healthy shopping habits that have impacted my wallet so I can spend money guilt-free one of my passions, traveling. After all, it really is the little habits that add up to big savings.
On an extreme scale my partner Anthony and I were able to cut extra spending over the course of a summer to travel to Thailand for a month.
What would you do with your extra savings?
5. Improved Health
"Simple pleasures are the last healthy refuge in a complex world."-Oscar Wilde
Living a simpler lifestyle caused me to cook at home even more frequently than I already had been. Not only has this increased my savings account but I even lost a few pounds in the process!
I've always loved to cook and bake but applying a minimalistic twist on my grocery shopping habits has made a drastic change in the way I cook. Making cheap and delicious home-cooked meals and treats has become an interesting challenge each week.
An improved health benefit includes clearing up my schedule and commitments that eat up a majority of my time. Letting go of a few things that didn't give me joy has led to less stress and a thankful body.
It can also make room for more time and energy to give to the things I might rather be doing, like enjoying a Saturday morning to sleep in once in a while or working on that project I've been putting off (aka, this blog).
6. Strengthened Relationships
When I let go of the expectations and pressures of what milestone society thinks I'm supposed to be at in life I also let go of the competitive jealousy over other people reaching their goals or getting that great job (whether I knew I was doing this or not).
As I let go of judgements of myself and others I began authentically connecting with people instead, which is where my happiness started to flourish. A clearer mind and less time spent on shopping and cleaning meant more opportunities to spend time with the people I love and care for.
I've begun to realize that relationships in our lives are strengthened by quality time, conversations or simple gifts, not by extreme materialistic purchases or competitiveness over possessions.
Even practicing something as simple as keeping my phone in my purse when I go out with friends or while waiting for various appointments has positively impacted the relationships in my life. I've become present in conversations, intentionally aware of my surroundings and usually end up having quality conversations with people I wouldn't normally have talked to.
While there are many more benefits of leading a more simplistic lifestyle, these are the main ones that have affected me deeply.
It doesn't have to be all or nothing. I started slowly and am still learning ways I can build on it each day, which is one of the reasons I started this blog. Keep an eye out for my next post to take a peek at how I began my journey of living simply!