Does Being a Minimalist Make You Happy? [Illustrated Guide]
I have often wondered if my life would be happier as a minimalist? Have you ever thought about that? I suppose that is why you are reading this post right now! Do we have too much stuff???
To answer the question for myself, I did some extensive research, spending many hours and days on the internet studying minimalist blogs and forums. After contemplating what I learned I came up with my answer.
Yes, many people who become minimalists report being happier once they make this lifestyle change. While opinions do vary, in general people who adopt the minimalist lifestyle say they feel happier, have less stress, more confidence, and a greater sense of freedom. They also state they save money in addition to other benefits of adhering to minimalism as a lifestyle.
Reasons Being a Minimalist Makes You Happy
- You May Have Less Stress in Your Life
- You May Save Money
- You May Be More Productive
- You May Have More Confidence
- You May Spend Less Time Cleaning
- You May Have a Healthier Lifestyle
- You May Have Better Clarity, Focusing on What Matters Most in Life
- You May Have More Time to Do Things
- You May Have a Great Sense of Freedom
- You May Have More Living Space Available
- You May Have a Less Complicated Life
Before we get too deep into the specifics of how being a minimalist can make you happier, let’s define the term so you have a clear understanding.
Definition of Being a Minimalist
According to Vocabulary.com a minimalist is interested in keeping things very simple. A person who adheres to or practices minimalism in their daily life.
Minimalism, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is “a style or technique (as in music, literature, or design) that is characterized by extreme spareness and simplicity.”
The term, minimalist is used in a variety of ways but we are talking about someone who practices minimalism as a lifestyle. Being a minimalist is adhering to a certain kind of lifestyle.
What Is Minimalism as a Lifestyle?
Minimalists change their existing lifestyles by challenging the value they place on their possessions. If you are thinking about being a minimalist this typically will involve greatly reducing the number of things you own.
By owning fewer possessions and placing more value on the things you do own, this shift will allow you to prioritize the things that bring you joy at a higher level. These points of joy could come from tangible items or simply from intangible things such as your love of family.
How Can Being a Minimalist Make You Happier?
Will Owning Fewer Things Make You Happier?
I always felt like happiness is the state of feeling happy. That it was a choice. Being happy is subjective and highly individual but it seems that many people draw their happiness from material items. Seems logical right?
When I bought my last new car there was a sudden burst of happiness in my life. But then guess what? That feeling quickly wore off. Especially when I had to make that first car payment!
Collecting more physical possessions can almost be like a sugar high. It feels great for a little while and then it is gone and the crash comes. Has this happened to you? It sure has with me!
If you spend less time shopping you will have more time to devote to other things in your life such as family, learning, or a hobby. That can provide more lasting happiness.
Will Saving Money Make You Happier?
Some people may find happiness in being financially secure. One great way to works towards being financially secure is to buy and own fewer things! That is right up the alley of a minimalist!
One of the facts of adhering to minimalism will be saving money. They go hand in hand together.
Will Having a Less Cluttered Living Environment Make You Happier?
Happiness can be influenced by your environment. Specifically, your home because that is where you spend most of your time. Living a minimalist lifestyle “means” having an uncluttered and clean home because you have fewer possessions.
This pretty much means, as a minimalist, you are creating your own higher level of happiness. Less cleaning, less picking up all means less stress and more smiles.
Will Having Less Stress Make You Happier?
Ok, that last sentence about a cleaner, less cluttered house meaning less stress is derived from not fixating on material possessions. That is a core factor in being a minimalist.
Ask yourself this question, how often do you worry about something that is tied to a physical possession? I remember vividly the last time my car broke down and worrying about a big repair bill. Has that happened to you?
Or maybe you are just short on car right now and there is a funny noise under the hood so you are worried about your car breaking down?
Were you calling someone important on your phone and all of a sudden it locked up and now it won’t even come back on? Now you might have to buy a new phone! you will have to spend hours going to the Apple store to get it looked at! What will you do in the meantime with no phone?
See what I mean about possessions? The more you have the more stress you will encounter. Fewer possessions reduce the amount of potential stress you will be subjected to.
Will Having More Time Make You Happier?
Being a minimalist MAKES time. Minimalism is a time machine!
Does that sound silly to you? Well, it is true in many ways. Having less means less cleaning, less repairing things, picking up things, less worrying about things…less, less, less.
In this sense, less is more. More time to do the important things you WANT to do equals more happiness.
Will Having More Freedom Make You Happier?
At the root of the minimalist lifestyle is the desire for more freedom in your everyday life.
As you release yourself from the bonds you’ve placed on objects in your environment, you will find a new freedom to focus more intensely on what brings you joy in life.
Will Being More Productive Make You Happier?
Being a minimalist can literally free up your schedule by reducing the number of things that must be done each day. When you spend less time on ‘things’ like the computer, your phone, the television you can now spend that time on more important things.
That is a much more productive use of your time which in turn should increase your happiness.
Will Having More Space in Your Home Make You Happier?
How many of you always wished for a bigger house? If you have more room you can get more stuff and will be ‘more’ happy right?
How about an alternate viewpoint? What if you have less stuff? Wouldn’t you agree that would result in you getting more space? Another example of how less is more.
Will Being Healthier Make You Happier?
My answer to this question is a resounding yes! Every human will be happier if they are healthy compared to the alternative.
Being healthy means having the freedom to do what you want, when you want with no limitations! The reduced stress levels of the minimalist lifestyle are key ingredients to being healthy.
Ask yourself this question. What limitations are holding you back from achieving a greater level of happiness? Is it time, money, or space? A minimalist lifestyle can address all of those areas and more.
A less complicated life is a major benefit of being a minimalist. Many people turning towards minimalism do so because they are tired of the ‘rat race’ of modern life.
Today’s society pushes a culture of more is better. The person with the most toys and the biggest house wins the game of life.
Minimalists seem to have learned to think for themselves and not just follow the herd. No doubt that is a refreshing look on life and requires some courage to be your own person.
How to Become a Minimalist
In reality, there are no hard and set rules for minimalism. Some people may say otherwise but to me everyone can adopt minimalist ideals in their life. It doesn’t have to be a complete 180-degree shift from the life you’re currently living.
The most important principle of minimalism is to allow things into your life with intention. This involves identifying and recognizing the purpose of every single thing you own.
Evaluate All Your Possessions
When you’re ready to begin, start with the smallest space in your home. Consider everything within that space.
If it’s your closet, ask yourself if it’s necessary for you to own every single piece of clothing you currently have. Think about how often do you really wear an item?
Here is a good trick to get into the minimalist mindset! Ask yourself…
What would you leave behind? Is there an item you’re holding on to that doesn’t fit or isn’t flattering?
Do any of these pieces bring you joy from the moment you put them on? If the answer to that question is yes, keep those items. If not, then, consider putting them aside as possibly something you can let go of.
Which Items Hold a Practical Purpose?
Do you own a pair of ridiculously tall high heels that you know you can’t walk in, but had to buy them because they were 50% off?
The ‘sugar high‘ of scoring a great deal may have brought you joy when you purchased the shoes but when they’re sitting in the back of your collection gathering dust, that feeling of joy is long gone and it may be time to let them go.
Repeat this process with every room in your home, working from the smallest spaces up to the largest space. As you eliminate items that don’t serve you, remove them from the home. You will feel good about doing it!
Caution! Don’t start another junk pile in your garage. This will only make your path towards a minimalist lifestyle much longer.
Say No to New Purchases
As you strip your life down to only the things you really need, you have to continue this process into the future. Don’t have a relapse and start buying new things! Being a minimalist (and reaping the rewards) is an everyday process.
If you allow a new item to enter your life, you have to be conscious of its purpose and service to you. is it really needed?
Reduce your temptation of buying new things by avoiding the internet, TV, and shopping malls!
Say Yes to Repairing and Fixing Things
This is a mindset just like not purchasing new things all the time. When something breaks just fix it instead of buying new.
When your blouse gets ripped, consider learning how to sew and mending the garment yourself. This will save you money over having to purchase a new shirt and you will have gained a new skill.
When repairing isn’t an option, consider just not replacing it. Can you live without that blender or your old coffee maker? What about the microwave?
You can most likely find a workaround and just eliminate that item for good. If you absolutely can’t do without it consider purchasing one secondhand. At least you will be saving money!
The Benefits of Being a Minimalist
While becoming a minimalist isn’t an easy journey, many find it to be very rewarding.
With the reduction of items in your life, you’ll find yourself spending less. Placing importance on the items you buy leads to more informed purchases.
If you find that the longevity of a product is important to you, you’ll purchase a higher-quality product with a longer service life. This can result in less money spent on replacements over time.
Here is something you may not have even thought about. A reduction in the number of electronic devices you own will lower your electricity bill. And a lower electric bill means less energy used which is good for the environment. A win-win!
You probably will accumulate extra currency being a minimalist. You can use that to save up for the future, pay off debt, or even start your own business.
As your bills are reduced, you could possibly quit that second job you had to take to make ends meet. Or maybe you won’t have to try and work overtime on the weekends anymore to make a few bucks to pay those bills.
The money you save adopting minimalism can also give you more time.
The emphasis on resisting the temptation to buy new things results in less shopping for minimalists. How much time do you spend at the grocery store each week?
How long do you tend to wander the aisles of a department store as you look around for nothing in particular? If you could get that time back, what would you do with it?
How much could you and your family bond with an extra hour devoted to each other every week?
With fewer possessions cluttering your home, you may find more space. Your studio apartment will seem so much bigger without that second loveseat in it.
Maybe now you can take your easel out of storage and begin painting again!
It has been clinically proven that the reduction of clutter can reduce stress and anxiety. When you’re already overwhelmed, encountering a mess could send you over the edge. Some may find those untidy surroundings, from having too much stuff, are their biggest anxiety triggers.
Reducing the number of items you own means that there is less material to create clutter.
Less clutter can make maintaining your home much easier.
Vacuuming is a lot less strenuous and easy to do when you don’t have as much furniture to move around. You will do it more often because it is easier and quicker.
Or heck, with less stuff your house will naturally just stay cleaner with less effort on your part. The activity of dusting is more streamlined when you don’t have to work around a bunch of knick-knacks.
Laundry days become easier when you don’t own two dozen t-shirts that you don’t need.
As you lessen the number of your material possessions, you may find yourself appreciating the items you keep much more. When an item brings you joy, you should feel grateful.
You should acknowledge that you are grateful this item came into your life and that you allowed it in.
You might find yourself feeling thankful for the extra time you can spend with your family instead of cleaning or shopping.
The Hardships of Being a Minimalist
While minimalism is a way of living that helps its followers to focus on the joy in life, it can also bring challenges for the minimalist.
Die-hard minimalists believe in separating emotions from objects. This can create a void in a beginner’s life. You may find you feel nothing when looking at an item that previously brought you joy.
It’s perfectly natural to derive happiness from your environment and the objects in it but living a life of minimalism tends to lessen those feelings. So people find that hard to deal with.
Anxiety of Letting Go of Sentimental Belongings:
As you clear your home of items that no longer serve a purpose, you may find yourself torn at leaving behind sentimental belongings.
If you’ve spent your life accumulating objects that have ties to the past, some of those ties may be positive.
Getting rid of the dress you wore to your brother’s wedding may seem practical because you don’t plan to wear it ever again; however, you also feel sad getting rid of something you wore during such a happy time in your life.
Feeling this way is ok and understandable but something you should learn to cope with on a positive basis and begin to dismiss from your mind over time if you are to be successful as a minimalist.
Friends and Family Not Understanding:
When the ones you love are what brings you the most joy in life, it can be hurtful when they don’t understand or agree with your new lifestyle.
Explaining the philosophy of minimalism to everyone you encounter can be exhausting. You can want them to understand and agree so badly, but there are no guarantees.
As you transform your way of thinking, you may notice drastic differences between you and your friends.
(Scroll to the bottom of the page to watch a brief trailer about minimalism)
They’re hurt when you won’t go on a shopping spree with them and you’re upset that they pressed you so hard after you explained that you don’t need to go shopping.
Adherence to the Minimalist Lifestyle:
Sticking to a minimalist lifestyle can be challenging. Any form of change is uncomfortable but uprooting your entire belief system is extremely hard.
It’s easy to fall into old habits. You stop at the gas station to fill up your car and pick up a pack of gum and a magazine because that’s what you’ve always done.
Then it hits you: that’s not what a minimalist would do! A true minimalist would simply pay for their fuel and leave.
Not Adding Clutter Back to Your Life:
When you see how much space you have in your home from decluttering, it can be very tempting to fill those spaces back up again!
Thoughts such as, “Without that old desk in the corner, I can finally get that large entertainment center I always wanted!” can creep into your mind. It can be very tough mentally to stop those natural impulses because you have had them your whole life.
However, when the truth sets in, you realize that you already have a functional television stand. You don’t really need a new piece of furniture. Forcing yourself to accept this realization can cause a bit of depression.
In today’s society we have been brainwashed to accept the idea that if we want something, we should buy it! Fighting this accepted mindset can cause stress in some people.
Living “The American Dream” seems to have been defined now by how much stuff you can buy.
The concept of minimalism can be even tougher if you have some wealth or even just some extra cash laying around. We have been programmed to spend, spend, spend!
When we want an item, just get it. There’s no thought process, no planning, and no budgeting for the item. Therefore you will have no consideration for its true value in your life.
Avoiding this type of impulsive behavior as a minimalist, will be taxing at times.
Minimalism begins by identifying the things that bring you joy in your life. As you reflect on what makes you happy, you may find the answers difficult to understand.
Suddenly, you’re realizing that without the “joys” of shopping and adding possessions to your life it has been a long time since you have felt that type of happiness and you miss it!
This realization can shatter someone’s belief that being a minimalist is right for them but it is important to work through those doubting thoughts.
Maybe you’ve found a lot of answers to the question “What makes you happy?” but you realize that the majority of your happiness is sourced from material objects. If you stripped yourself of those possessions, what would you have left?
Revealing Your Priorities:
While becoming a minimalist it may make you uncomfortable with the person you are or were. Sometimes self-discovery is a challenging and disturbing process.
Being a Minimalist Is Flexible
If you gathered twenty people in a room and asked them, “What does happiness mean to you?” you would get twenty different answers. You would probably get the same result if you asked what does being a minimalist really mean.
To me, there is some flexibility with being a minimalist. It is not black and white. You can still be a minimalist and enjoy many of the benefits of being a minimalist while differing from others on how to implement it.
The bottom line is that despite different ways of getting there, we all aspire to be happy, and utilizing the methods of being a minimalist can help achieve that goal.
There is no guarantee that minimalism will make you happier. Owning fewer items sounds freeing to some, and terrifying to others.
What exploring minimalism can do for everyone is make them take a deep look into their lives and that is a good thing.
Ask yourself this…are you happy with yourself? Are you happy with your environment? Is this where you want to be? Where do you see yourself in the future?
As you answer these questions, you can evaluate what it would take to become the person you want to be. Perhaps you want to be more involved with your family or maybe you want to carve out more time in the day for yourself.
Being a minimalist can help you achieve those goals.
Once they’ve implemented a minimalist lifestyle, many have found that with fewer objects in their way, they have found a clearer path towards happiness.
When you save money and time through minimalism, you will find the freedom to pursue the activities you really enjoy. Less work, less stuff to worry about, and more time to enjoy life should bring a smile to anyone’s face right?
Everyone can obtain joy from gaining a deeper understanding of themselves and growing into their own spirituality. These are things that minimalism prioritizes and promotes.
A little extra…
By the way…there have been some famous people who are believed to have followed the principles of being a minimalist. Here is a short list but see if you can find any others.
- Albert Einstein
- Leonardo Da Vinci
- Halle Berry
- Keanu Reeves
- Steve Jobs
Also, there was a popular documentary on Netflix all about minimalism. Check out this brief trailer.
Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things
Thanks for reading, go out and have some fun and experience the Joy of Today!