If you’ve always wanted to know what minimalism is all about, how you can benefit from it and how you can integrate it into your own life, then this article is for you.
Minimalisam – just another buzz word?
Minimalism is one of the buzzwords of our time. But why actually?
The answer is quite simple: In our current era, our lives are overloaded in all aspects. We consume goods, social media, television, are overwhelmed with information, work, family life, etc. The clutter and mass of what we must fit into our lives is overwhelming and overloads our already cluttered and overflowing minds.
How I became a minimalist
Maybe this situation sounds familiar to you: You are standing in front of your closet, which is literally overflowing, and you simply have nothing to wear.
That’s what happened to me. Several times!
I was about to spend a weekend in Paris with my one of my closest friends. While planning the trip, I told her that I had to buy some new clothes before the trip, because I didn’t have any suitable items to wear for Paris.
My friend all of a sudden burst out laughing and said: “You don’t have too little to wear, you have too much! You no longer see the forest for the trees!
This statement caught me off-guard. Was this true? I always regarded myself as very organized, not only with stuff but also with money. I always regarded myself as a very disciplined and intentional person.
That same evening, I stood in front of my closet and looked at the situation. What I then saw revealed a completely different person. My closet was literally overflowing. Nothing in this cabinet suggested a person who made wise decisions, neither in terms of purchased items nor in terms of money well spent.
Horrified about myself, I started decluttering my closet the following weekend. And this was not a pleasant process. Whenever I pulled out a piece of clothing my throat tightened. Not necessarily because I felt emotionally attached to the item. But rather because I felt guilt. Guilt of all the mess, guilt for stupid purchases, and guilt because of all the money spent. By Sunday evening I was able to bring 19 trash bags full of clothes to the donation center. I still felt the guilt and the shame, but I also felt liberated. It felt as if a heavy stone was lifted off my chest.
What I didn’t realize back then: that weekend, almost nine years ago, was a departure. It was the start of a journey. Not to Paris, but to myself, to the person who I truly am.
What is minimalism
Minimalism means that you get rid of unnecessary “baggage”. Like objects you no longer need or want, toxic relationships and friendships, as well as skills that no longer serve any important goal. What remains is only what brings you joy and enriches your life.
Minimalism thus maximizes the meaningful and the valuable.
Minimalism has nothing to do with abandonment, deprivation and asceticism. A minimalist wastes no time, money and energy for unimportant things and thus lives more intentionally.
Minimalism helps to find out what your goals and desires are. By means of reduction, your view and vision become clear. Minimalism helps you to discover what is important to you and what you want to achieve in life.
There is no such thing as the one and only minimalism
For some people, minimalism means limiting their possessions to 100 things; for others, it means consistently doing only what brings them joy. For most people, it means deciding for themselves what they want to spend their time, energy, and money on to achieve their goals and wishes. That’s why everyone must find out for themselves what their minimalism looks like.
There is no right or wrong.
Where does the term minimalism come from
The origin of minimalism lies in the art scene. In the 1960s, the so-called Minimal Art movement emerged in the USA. It formed as a countermovement to the painting of Abstract Expressionism. The artists focused on the simple and the clear. They often depicted geometric shapes and structures.
But minimalism is also found in architecture. Its origins date back to the 1920s, but the style did not really take hold until the 1980s. The minimalist architectural style is characterized by a simple formal language and the abandonment of decorative elements. Similar to the arts, geometry plays an important role. One of the hallmarks of the minimalist architectural style is the use of cubic forms.
In recent years, the concept of minimalism has spread from art and architecture to music and even into the personal sphere of life, propagated heavily by books and TV shows. Marie Kondo is certainly one of the most prominent examples here.
Advantages of a more minimal lifestyle
Minimalism does not only have an impact on our surroundings and financial situation, it also has a huge impact on our mental health.
Minimalism is liberating
What at first sounds restrictive has a decisive and, above all, sustainable advantage: those who live minimalistically get rid of both, emotional and material burden. Be it in form of the so-called friend who only takes advantage of you, clothes that no longer fit, or the unused sports equipment that only reminds you that you failed on your new year’s resolutions again.
Saying goodbye to this kind of people and items it can be very liberating.
Minimalism creates clarity
The less burden you carry around, the clearer your view will become. Most people carry too much ballast that literally blocks their view. A typical example is an overflowing closet and the feeling of not having anything suitable to wear. The clothes that are not being worn block the view of what is worn.
The better your view becomes by means of decluttering, the easier it is for you to
see connections and separate the important from the unimportant.
Minimalism puts you (back) in the driver seat
Those who have more clarity about their priorities and know what they want also take control over their actions. Often, we make decisions under great pressure and under the influence of external factors without being clear about our actual priorities. Minimalism can help to put you back into the driver seat. The more clarity we have, the easier it will be to take control over our actions.
Minimalism helps to focus
Minimalism means that you focus on the essentials by leaving out everything else. What remains is only what serves your goal and brings you joy. Truly important things deserve our exclusive attention. In our society, we often tend to multitask. This is not only completely unproductive (since it has been proven that our brain can only concentrate on one thing at a time) but also reduces our attention.
Minimalism creates time
Those, who get rid of unnecessary tasks, have more time.
Who no longer manages unnecessary items, has more time.
Those, who no longer spend their time with wrong companions, have more time.
It is that simple.
As such, minimalists have more time for the important tasks, more time to manage the right things and more time for real friends.
Minimalism reduces stress
Clarity, control, focus and more time for the things you truly care about provide a feeling of fulfilment. With this sense of fulfillment, we fully focus on the present. We don’t think too much about the past or worry about the future. Everything we do is truly aligned with our conviction. This sense of unity reduces emotional stress.
Minimalism therefore means one thing above all: more quality of life!
Disadvantages of minimalism
To be honest, I have not experienced any disadvantage from my minimalistic lifestyle so far. However, if you investigate the topic in more detail, you are most likely to read about the following aspects:
- Minimalism must not degenerate into fanaticism or stinginess
- Minimalism can be expensive if you give away items that you will need again later and therefore have to re-purchase
- Too many self-imposed restrictions can make life narrow and small
- There are no reserves for exceptional situations
- Creativity is restricted when everything is completely reduced and perfect
- Some people feel uncomfortable in relatively empty spaces
How you can start with a more minimal lifestyle
You may be balking at first. “What, I’m supposed to part with all material pleasures and give up shopping trips with my girls? “
No, you’re not.
Minimalism is not about rigorously banning everything, but about the fact that you have exactly enough.
It’s also not about “less is more”, but rather finding “the right amount for you” – without excess.
Therefore, it makes little sense to completely adopt the (minimalist) lifestyle of others: Only you can decide what is enough for you!
The path to minimalism also doesn’t happen overnight; it is a process.
But how do you start this process, you may ask.
A relatively simple start, without too many emotional objections (which may arise when decluttering a closet or kids’ room) is the bathroom.
You don’t need a whole weekend to do it. Take 15 minutes. Set the timer on your smartphone and start in your bathroom cabinets:
- Which makeup or medication has expired?
- Which lipstick have you never worn or liked?
- Which nail polish has dried out?
- Which towels are worn out?
Sort these things out. Keep only what you really like and what you really use. Everything else only takes up unnecessary space and needs to go.
You’ll probably be surprised by how much you can get done in 15 minutes. And the next time you open your bathroom cabinets, you’ll only look at the things you really use and truly like.