5 ways I’ve minimalised my life – and why by 4Youth Community Member
Minimalism is a great idea. But bringing this way of life from your Pinterest board into your home, appearance and habits can be tough. It requires commitment, concentration, and consideration – three Cs that, for some, can be chores. Everyone’s ambitions and appetites for change are different. Rather than doing your utmost to imitate a single minimalism guru (as lovely as they are), it may be more helpful to consider one or other of these entry points – and if you’d like to dig deeper, I’ve linked my supporting research.
“Everyone’s ambitions and appetites for change are different.”
Reinvent your inventory
Decluttering! Easier said than done in a world chock-full of pretty, shiny, purchasable things. But if you’re looking to improve self-esteem, it’s worth jumping in – recent research from Japan (Aso, 2018) shows that people aged 12-54 who took part in four weekly workshops about health and living spaces improved substantially on clinical self-esteem questionnaires.
Redirect the debits
Financial trouble is a ditch everyone should avoid falling into in the first place, but if you find yourself in it, there are significant steps you can take to get out. If your spending habits easily get out of control, ask your bank about a basic bank account. Basic bank accounts are designed for people with bad credit scores, or other vulnerabilities that make it harder to preserve money. They’re similar to any other account – you can make withdrawals from ATMs, set up direct debits and standing orders, and use online banking, but you won’t be eligible for perks like overdrafts or cashback. If you’re on good ground financially, it’s still worth keeping track of your direct debits and regular spending, even just by keeping them in a note on your phone.
Try being timeless
The practice of living in a minimalist way has also been called ‘voluntary simplicity’ or ‘deconsumption’. But is achieving ‘voluntary simplicity’ simple? According to B?o?ski & Witek (2019), it can be as straightforward as slowing down and honestly considering purchases. What does this look like? Investing in one high-quality dress as opposed to eight terribly-made pieces, using local sharing and freebie apps, and most pressingly, resisting the pressure to impulse-buy – a superpower the shops don’t want you to gain! Personally, I combine this with strategy 1 by thinking ‘one in, one out’ when I’m about to buy something – have I recently done sufficient decluttering to sensibly allow this new shiny thing into my life? I know it sounds harsh, but I’m happier for it.
Switch the socials
In his book Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World, Cal Newport advocates taking an audit of your technology use, including social media. Digital minimalism, he says, means that “you focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that strongly support things you value, and then happily miss out on everything else”. So if you want to get away from Facebook’s toxic echo chambers and creepy ads, but can’t bear to miss out on the latest scorching memes, perhaps a more focused platform is the answer. I’ve found Pinterest to be an ideal replacement space for inspiration, useful tips and mindless amusement, without the constant badgering to ‘connect’ and ‘share’ my every thought. Alternatively, you could simply try a day or two without any kind of scrolling. See what strange and wonderful things are waiting around the corner.
Make more moments
It’s worth asking, why the surge in minimalism’s popularity? Has the whole world decided to become an Ikea? Uggla (2019) notices that people living minimally in the USA and Europe lean towards conscientious, activistic, even radical justifications for their choices. Polish minimalist bloggers express wanting the greater freedom that comes from owning few material possessions, while Americans adopt minimalism out of wanting to save money and time. One common theme in people’s self-reported minimalist journeys is being able to find a deeper sense of self and meaning after they have offloaded their unnecessary stuff: the fast pace of a life built around constant consumption and novelty is destabilising to a person’s identity. In other words, after stepping out of the rat race and saying no to keeping up with the Joneses, it’s easier to move towards the things you really wanted all along.