Minimalist Lifestyle: Why Others Got Started will give you a little peek inside the window of souls that craved a simpler life. Let me start this post by saying I’m not a minimalist. I’m not even close to being one.
If you’re looking to pare down your life, you can find tips on this post 21 Simple Living Ideas: Easy Ways to Simplify Your Life.
The idea of minimalism intrigues me. I believe in creating a simple lifestyle and minimalists know how to do that.
I’ve seen plenty of articles that talk about ways to become a minimalist, but not too many on why others took the leap into minimalism and what motivated them to stay on course.
I’m planning my move across the country as I type this post. You can imagine the fun I’m having.
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” – William Morris
One thing I know for sure is that I have way too much stuff. I like homes that looked lived in – my blog is about cozy living after all.
But…I also believe you should pare down to surround yourself with things you love. Not too much, not too little, but just right. Goldilocks had the right idea.
Finding out why the reasons others took the journey to let go of their possessions and evaluate what they needed in their lives was an inspiration to me and I thought it would be meaningful to my readers as well.
Most of us lack time. Between working, commuting, taking care of our families, having friends, the upkeep of our homes, and everything else life has to offer, finding time for self-examination can be difficult.
Taking inventory of what works in our lives and what doesn’t is one of the most important things to do regularly.
I know I’m guilty of not doing this very much. Significant life events like moving across the country have a way of bringing this self-reflection to the top of the to-do list.
Sometimes getting started doesn’t have to mean knowing everything that you want out of life. You can begin by knowing want you don’t want in your life anymore.
One minimalist wrote, “At the end of the day, less is more.”
More Free Time
More Money in the Bank
More Space in Your Head
What is a Minimalist?
Becoming a minimalist means learning to live with less. According to merriam-webster.com – minimalism is a style or technique (as in music, literature, or design) that is characterized by extreme sparseness and simplicity.
Letting go of clutter, excessive financial obligations, and even the noise you allow in your day-to-day world are the tools to simplifying.
What Does a Minimalist Life Look Like?
Everyone’s version of a minimalist approach to life is different. You’ll have to decide what’s best for you and your family.
I’m not the right person to write a how-to article on minimalism. My journey on getting rid of things has just started.
Unless my life takes a complete u-turn sometime soon, I don’t think I’ll ever be qualified to write an article like that.
I can, however tell you what minimalism is not.
One of my neighbors behind me has a beautiful lawn that she takes meticulous care to make sure there isn’t a leaf, weed, or plant out of place.
You pull up to her house, and you see a green lawn, about one inch tall that looks like a minimalist lives there.
This scene sounds good, right? On paper, yes.
For a year, I’ve had to listen to her various noisy mechanical tools (leaf blower, yard edger, bush trimmer, etc.) ripping into the woods. My neighbor is retired and this is her project.
From sun up until sun down those machines were running. She has about 1 1/2 acres, so it took her awhile to get through it all.
As an extra bonus, she had a burn pit and would have it going about every three days – burning green material which caused a smoke hazard in my neighborhood.
Burning is legal in my area, but you’re not supposed to burn green material.
Various other neighbors begged her to stop burning, because one of my neighbors was dying of cancer and couldn’t breath. Another neighbor has allergies and called the fire department frequently to see if there was something they could do.
The burning, noise and elimination of plants didn’t stop.
In the beginning of July this year, I noticed something different. I could actually hear the birds singing.
The tranquility lasted for months. No more noise. I couldn’t believe it. What on earth happened that changed the situation?
I saw my neighbor recently while out walking not too long ago. She had shoulder surgery early in July. She can no longer hold gardening machinery because holding them caused irreversible damage to it.
Now she hires a company to come out to handle her lawn care. It’s a team of guys that come in for an hour or two once a week and there’s peace.
I hope you see the point I’m trying to make. Sometimes what looks like minimalism, really isn’t.
The amount of time, noise and destruction that comes with a picture-perfect lawn ended up not being good for anyone, including her.
You take the opposite of that story, and look at the people that transform their landscape by adding native plants and take care to provide wildlife habitat and you’ve got a low-maintenance yard that is beautiful to look at and beneficial to everyone.
That’s a true minimalist in my eyes.
So as I sell off and donate a lot of my possessions and ask myself over and over again, “Why do I have this?” – instead of justifying it’s existence and boxing it up “In case I need it,” – I feel lighter letting someone else enjoy the things.
Stopping to ask the question if each thing adds value to my world helps solidify leaning towards living a life on purpose.
While I’m pretty sure I’ll never be accused of being a minimalist in my lifetime, I know that I definitely don’t want to go forward into my new house with as many items as I have now.
This made me wonder how others were able to go from one extreme of excess to the other of a minimalist lifestyle and what were their reasons.
The answers were insightful. I think you’ll think so too.
Cozy Living Group:
Since you’re interested in creating a life you love, I’m guessing you like all things cozy living. I created a Facebook group called Creating a Cozy Life with over 51,000 like-minded souls.
It’s a group where we share recipes, pictures of things that leave you in awe, and ideas on how to make your life just a little bit more snug. Join here to be part of the virtual cozy cabin.
Here are the Minimalist Lifestyle: Why Others Got Started Reasons:
Minimalist Lifestyle Reason #1 – They became minimalist because of constant moving.
Several people were part of families that frequently moved for their jobs. Some were military, and others were relocating for the best career advancement opportunities.
After going through the work of a few moves and feeling overwhelmed with the process of repeatably packing, transporting, and unpacking their household, they decided it would be easier to live with less so future moves wouldn’t be so difficult.
The sheer magnitude of having to move once again, caused so much stress and anxiety. A change had to take place.
The other aspect of moving a lot is that the more items you have, the more expensive the move will be.
Paring down not only made economic sense, but it made an inevitable task less daunting.
Minimalist Lifestyle Reason #2 – Embraced minimalism for the sake of the planet.
Looking for ways to lessen our footprint on the earth makes sense.
You can not only learn to live with fewer things, but you can support companies that make and sell their wares ethically.
I try and buy my food from local farms that sell organic produce. It’s one habit I adapted years ago that I’m proud of staying the course.
Minimalist Lifestyle Reason #3 – Family members were hoarders, and they wanted to break the cycle.
One minimalist had to go through her grandmother’s things when she passed away. She decided right then and there that she didn’t want her children to go through the same thing.
Another minimalist felt that her parents spent most of their free time hunting for more things to hoard at garage sales and found that they had a meaningless attachment to “things.”
She felt sad that in place of spending quality time with her, they valued inanimate objects instead.
A few of the people watched the show “Hoarders,” and it scared the living daylights out of them.
One member cleaned out people’s homes for a living. Having to handle so much stuff every day made her realize how little she needed in her life to make her happy.
She opted for a of her home with more white space and dropped out of the rat race at the same time.
Minimalist Lifestyle Reason #4 – Some found the minimalism through the gift of giving.
When one of the member’s friends fell on hard times and lost everything in a fire, she went through her things and gave her the “extras” she had laying around.
She found it gave her joy to give away to others in need, so she continued the pattern until she became a minimalist.
Minimalist Lifestyle Reason #5 – Getting their free time back lead to a minimalist lifestyle.
A lot of the people that transitioned to minimalism had found that their weekends were spent running errands and cleaning their homes.
They found that by owning less stuff, there was less to clean. As they saw their free hours starting to compound, they decided to get rid of even more things.
One person hated the task of moving things when she cleaned. She decided to have fewer things to move.
Minimalist Lifestyle Reason #6 – Wanting to live on the road in an RV prompted a few people into becoming minimalists.
If an item wouldn’t fit in a future travel trailer, it had to go. Several of the people in a minimalist group dreamed of living a life in an RV.
They were transitioning into jobs that would allow them to be a digital nomad, and paring down their stuff became a priority.
Minimalist Lifestyle Reason #7 – The minimalist lifestyle resulted after divorcing a spouse.
A few people realized after going through nasty divorces and bickering over who would get what, that none of it mattered in the end.
They found that by holding onto items, they were trying to hold on to the past, and they found true freedom by letting it all go.
One group member found herself in a lengthy, messy divorce. She was left shattered and having to pick up the pieces of a broken marriage with two children to weave a new story.
Her spouse went on to start a shiny new life with the woman he left the family for, and she was forced to downsize into a smaller home and life. When she moved all the belongings from her former house into her new one, she realized it all didn’t fit the original picture anymore.
Determination to give her children a fantastic childhood led her to minimalism.
Minimalist Lifestyle Reason #8 – Choosing quality over quantity led to minimalist living.
After having to replace item after item because they were cheaper quality, some of the minimalists decided they would rather have fewer things of premium value rather than a lot of things that fell apart.
Investing in higher-end well-made clothes prompted one member to start a capsule wardrobe. After that, she started on her home. She picked furniture that was comfortable and would hold up for years and got rid most of her excess.
One person mentioned that if you want to have nice stuff, you have to take care of it. If you don’t, that stuff becomes junk. She chose to get rid of everything she didn’t want to take care of in the future.
Keeping the “good” stuff in the back of the closet for special occasions was no longer an option. Now wearing those quality pieces daily became part of every day life.
Even though she had less clothing items to pick from to wear, she feels happier with her clothing choices now.
Some of the people mentioned that they had closets without one inch of space, but finding something to wear everyday was a challenge.
Once their closets emptied, they found that finding the perfect outfit to put on became more manageable.
Not only were their closets clutter-free, but it took less time to get dressed and their wallets were fuller.
Minimalist Lifestyle Reason #9 – Minimalism became a priority for starting over in life.
A complete re-do was in order for one minimalist. She decided she wasn’t happy in her life and it was time to make changes.
Her “things” became associated with her old way of living, and she decided she wanted a clean slate.
Selling and giving away her stuff, let her begin the journey of creating a life on purpose.
Another person had gone through hard times and found that some of her things reminded her of those events.
She decided to donate anything that had a negative “vibe” to the item. Her home now is filled with things that give her total bliss.
A few of the people had to flee abusive relationships with just a suitcase. They learned that safety was way more important than things.
Creating a minimalist design aesthetic is having only having necessary things that are functional and/or bring you happiness.
Minimalist Lifestyle Reason #10 – Turning a house into a cozy minimalist home.
One member didn’t like to call herself a minimalist. Instead, she liked the word “mediumist.”
Her priority became turning her “blah” house into a cozy minimalist home that only housed things her family loved.
Every family member now gives his or her approval on purchases that take up space in the common areas of their home.
She feels her home is now a welcoming beacon for all her family and friends, and everyone seems to want to gather there.
Minimalist Lifestyle Reason #11 – The minimalist lifestyle became a gateway for peace.
When anxiety took over, one minimalist found herself struggling to stay afloat.
She decided there had to be a better way to live. When she evaluated all her material possessions, she realized that at least half of the items rarely got used.
Her home also housed projects that she would get around to “someday.” The more she would ignore the projects, the more the project pile grew.
She decided to keep only the things she needed and cut out everything else. A digital purge was also in order.
Her priority became being at peace at all times, and she revolved her life around it. While anxiety can still take hold now and again, she found it’s happening less and less.
The reward was a clearer mind and a state of tranquility.
Minimalist Lifestyle Reason #12 – Owning fewer things became a hate-to-clean minimalist dream.
Some people like to clean. Then others absolutely hate the task.
Several people in the group recognized they fell in the latter group and decided to take things into their own hands by not having very much to tidy up.
While they disliked the process of cleaning, they did enjoy an organized home. Everything was evaluated on the value it brought to their environment and how hard it would be to keep the item cleaned.
Knick-knacks became outlawed in these homes, and they craved a simple decor that rarely got out of control. They adapted the minimalist lifestyle and never looked back.
They ended up enjoying their homes more because they knew their weekends wouldn’t be filled with completing chores they disliked.
The clean lines of their home kept them motivated to stay the course.
Minimalist Lifestyle Reason #13 – Leaving a legacy of valuing relationships and experiences became the driving force of a minimalist lifestyle.
Some group members noticed that their children became desperate always to have the latest toy or clothing.
They decided that leaving a legacy of not valuing material goods was something they wanted to instill in their kids. The only way to accomplish that task was to be an example.
When the parents changed their focus on creating meaningful moments with others, they found their children changed their perspective too.
They are now able to walk into stores without the kids wanting something new to bring home.
Minimalist Lifestyle Reason #14 – The desire to simplify their surroundings as the world becomes more complicated.
Turning on the news these days can have you feeling like the world’s spinning out of control.
Mass shootings, politics (on both sides), glorifying violence and the never-ending messages of never being “enough” can cause even the most upbeat person to feel powerless.
Several people felt since they couldn’t control the world-at-large, they would be at least able to control their personal environment.
Everything that was in their homes had a positive value and need. Things that didn’t make the checklist were donated to help make the community a better place.
Now when they go out into the chaotic world, knowing that they will have a warm and comfortable place to land when they went home made it a little more bearable.
Minimalist Lifestyle Reason #15 – Narrowing their interests down so they can learn to excel lead a few minimalists to let go of excess.
I can relate to this idea. If you’re a person that loves to start projects, but never really finishes them, then this reasoning is for you.
A few of the people admitted to continually starting something new before finishing previous projects. As a result, their home was filled with things begging for completition.
They decided to change this pattern and only bring into their home a new project after all the other ones had been mastered.
Instead of being seduced by shiny-light-syndrome, they learned to focus on relishing the feeling of accomplishment that comes with the end of a task.
As a result of this new focus, their homes had less clutter and brought less anxiety to the homeowners because they no longer had endless lists of things that needed to be done.
They are no longer seduced by the newest novelty project that they cross paths with.
Minimalist Lifestyle Reason #16 – Creating a financial portfolio motivated one minimalist to stop buying things and instead start buying investments.
What an exciting idea. One member embraced minimalism because he wanted to swap one obsession for another.
He had been focused on having the best of everything which included his home, car, and toys. His focus shifted when he learned the power of building investments.
Selling his big home and living simply allowed him to build passive wealth that gave him what he really desired – freedom.
Several people had a desire to retire early. They realized they would never be able to do this unless they gave up their desire for more things and adapt a minimalist lifestyle.
One person recognized that although they loved boating, the boat ended up being a hole in the water in which they poured money.
They found that by going on boating adventures with their friends that owned boats, they got the same result and only had to contribute a share of the cost instead of the entire bill.
Minimalist Lifestyle Reason #17 – Seeing first-hand the unhealthy relationship other people had with objects spurned one minimalist to transform her life completely.
One minimalist worked in the funeral industry. It was there she witnessed families fighting over possessions before the funeral took place.
Instead of grieving for the lost loved one, the priority became who was going to get what from the will.
She vowed that her family would be raised differently by learning that things aren’t what’s important in life.
Minimalist Lifestyle Reason #18 – Frustration with never being able to find things lead to the minimalist lifestyle for one person.
How many times have you gone looking for something, only to have to spend a good portion of your day ripping apart your home in the search?
My hand is waving in the air right now. It’s so frustrating!
The constant search for things lead one person to completely overhaul her life. Now everything has a place, and she can easily find everything.
This reason alone would be good enough to start the journey.
Minimalist Lifestyle Reason #19 – Focusing on creating happy memories instead of spending money on stuff became the objective of one minimalist family.
There was a common thread that weaved through the minimalist group, the desire to become happier.
By focusing on what matters, most participants found that minimalism was a by-product of having the right priorities.
Spending time with their kids and loved ones brought them more joy than anything else, so if that meant having less stuff to clean, repair, and put away – they were willing to make the sacrifice.
The living room became their starting point. What was once a cluttered space, now looks clean and comfortable. After seeing the positive change of one room, finishing the rest of the house was easy.
They ended up better for the change. Looking at the lives of others on social media no longer interested them because they were happy with the life they were creating.
The journey brought them a stronger sense of self.
Best Minimalist Blog:
There are a few blogs that talk about the minimalist lifestyle.
Here’s my vote for the best minimalist blog out there:
Mr. Money Mustache – Can I tell you how much I (heart) Mr. Money Mustache? The only thing bad about the blog is that he only posts new content on average once a month.
He’s entertaining and definitely marches to his own drum.
How to Start a Minimalist Challenge:
Make a commitment to yourself to start looking at what you bring into your home and life.
The simplest way to begin is whenever something comes into your world, and you have to release two or more items in exchange.
I love this idea because there isn’t pressure to get “x” done by “y” date.
You could also look for one thing every day to either sell, donate, or throw away. In one year, you’ll have 365 fewer things to worry about.
Best Books on the Minimalist Lifestyle:
We’ve reached the end of Why Others Adapted the Minimalist Lifestyle. I hope you enjoyed it!
In between writing this article, I decided to tackle cleaning my kitchen. Within ten minutes, I broke two bowls.
I guess the universe agrees with me that it’s time to down-size.
Whether you’re suffocating in stuff, or only just needing to pare down a little bit more – I hope the collected wisdom from others helps you on your minimalist style.
You can start small by shifting through cards, and letters like one minimalist did and getting rid of the ones that made her feel bad.
Diving in and committing to eliminating half of her possessions was another member’s goal. She wanted all her things to fit into a small space because her ultimate goal was to buy a tiny home.
When you focus less on your outer world, you will have more time to find inner contentment.
The is a personal journey. For some, it’s a slow process and others are able to adapt to the vision immediately. Both will get you to the finish line.
One minimalist mindset group member took what she learned from simplifying her life and began teaching others how to do the same. Minimalism became her career.
Finding that the meaning in life had absolutely nothing to do with the things in her life lead one group member on the path.
What is your “why” in wanting to simplify your life? Your thoughts can inspire others. Let me know in the comments below.
I wish you the best on your new journey of decluttering your life. I’ll be on right along side you, going through my things – so know that you’re not alone.
If the minimalist movement sounds like something you’re interested in, start with baby steps and see how it changes your life.
Thanks for stopping by!
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- Path to Simplicity: 25 Simple Living Ideas
- Depression Era Habits to Try Today
- 13 Tips for a More Peaceful Home
- 31 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress