Minimalism: Yoga for your Whole Life.
It’s not just about de-cluttering your home…
What is minimalism?
Minimalism is not necessarily about living with less, though that’s a byproduct of it; rather, it’s about clearing things (tangible and intangible) out of your life in order to make space for the things that bring you value.
It’s a hot topic in home design, architecture, and organization (hello, KonMari), but it’s not just about getting rid of clothes and nick-knacks — it’s also about getting rid of old habits, patterns, and even people that no longer serve you.
It’s why yoga has brought so much benefit to its practitioners: its focus is on pure presence and the cessation of all thoughts.
Yoga encourages you to let go of things you cannot control, of thoughts that no longer serve you, and of thinking patterns that are not conducive to your health and well-being.
Minimalism is like yoga for your life: it encourages you to value the present.
- Clear your head: you’ll find your head space is clearer when your physical space is clear — seriously, that’s scientifically backed.
- Clarify what’s valuable: is what you’re dedicating a majority of your life/time to, what you consider valuable and will make you happy? When you put things first, you tend to lose site of the purpose and meaning behind life — but when you’re laser-focused on what’s important, you have more motivation to keep pushing forward (especially when you encounter obstacles — which will happen in anything worth building!).
- Simplify your life: less is more — do you own like, 5 different bags, and never know which one is holding your keys? Do you find yourself scattering your thoughts across multiple channels (phone notes, written notebooks, random post-its) and then feeling crazy when you can’t find your to-do list, because, wait a minute, where did I put it?! Or spending too much time getting ready in the morning, deciding what to wear?
It’s why so many successful people wear self-imposed uniforms
It’s why monks and aesthetics feel so peaceful.
It’s why people who enjoy traveling the world live out of a backpack.
It’s why nutritionists and doctors always recommend to consume the freshest and least processed foods.
When you simplify your life, things just flow more smoothly.
- Gain control of your finances: by consuming less, you spend less. Pretty simple math, right? And then it gives you extra money to spend on all those things you established as valuable in #2.
- Give you more time to spend on those valuable things in #2: when you’re spending less time stressing about things you don’t have (that you don’t actually need), cleaning up your house nonstop because you have too many things collecting dust, or searching for those lost keys and to-do lists… you have so much extra time for the things that matter.
- Be more environmentally friendly: plastic pollution is a BFD nowadays (by year 2050, scientists have projected that the weight of plastic will outweigh the sea life in the ocean — scary!), and the harmful chemicals in cleaning products and fast-fashion are bad for you and the environment. By using less, you’re doing more — and better — for you and our planet.
- Improve your health: you’ll find that as you de-clutter your home, workspace, and schedule you’ll start to de-clutter your diet choices, naturally.
- Reduce your stress & increase your happiness: less things = less stuff to stress over. Less stress = more happiness. Less really is more.
Sounds great…how do I apply these principles to my life?
- Clear your workspace: remove everything from your desk and put it all in one pile/bin. Remove each item, one by one, and ask yourself does item serve me? If it does, find a place on your desk to put it. If it doesn’t, put it in a giveaway pile.
- Clear your wardrobe: do the same as above. Closet tip: after clearing out the giveaway items, turn your hangers the opposite way from how they usually face. Every time you use a clothing item on the hanger, turn the hanger back to its “normal position.” Every 6 months, go through your closet — any of the hangers still facing the funky way are for giveaway.
- Clear your thoughts: Whenever you start to have negative thoughts, spend a minute or so with them — what’s causing them? Is it an attachment to an outcome that’s not serving you? Is it a result of a person or a relationship that does not serve you? Let go of these things, just as you let go of the tangible things. Tip: make this easier on yourself and just go to a yoga class 2–3 times a week.
- Clear your finances: Follow these simple budgeting rules — if you can’t afford to buy 2 of them, don’t buy it, and spend less than you make. Does this seem simplified? Well, because it is — but this doesn’t work if you are turning your cheek to debt (listen, every average American has it — in fact, the average American is $38,000 in debt). The good news is, if you’ve got debt, minimizing your consumption will give you more money to clear your debt.
- Keep your groceries clean: most states in the US do not tax perishables — consider purchasing things that only fall within this category — minimizing your options with this simple guideline will not only help your wallet, but will also help your health!
Another strategy: use 1 reusable grocery bag per person in your home. Grocery shop once a week, and do not buy more than 1 bag’s worth of food per person.
- Hold on to memories, not things: a lot of the things you hold onto are held because there is an emotional attachment to them. The truth is, your memories live inside you — not inside your things…especially things that stay in storage for years and are only stumbled upon by accident (or during a move).
Having trouble letting go? Take photos and save them to your cloud — this takes up no space at all, and is much easier to sort through sporadically. Alternative strategy (this one takes a bit of time/effort): pack up all of your belongings as if you’re moving tomorrow. For one month, “live” out of the boxes. After that month, give away/discard of anything still in the boxes that you haven’t needed for living.
- Apply the 30-day rule: if you want something new, wait 30 days. Still want it? Go ahead and buy it — it’s clearly a value-add if you’d wait 30 days for it. Chances are, however, you’ll find you don’t really need it.
You don’t have to get rid of everything you own, or every relationship in your life, but you can use minimalist principles to start to reduce the unnecessary things around you that are causing you stress or getting in the way of the things that, as expert Marie Kondo would say, bring you joy.