Minimalism is often perceived as an extreme practice, but Joshua Becker, founder and editor of website Becoming Minimalist, says it doesn't have to be. There are no real rules and contrary to what is commonly believed, it's not the practice of going without. "While it is true that you will have less, it’s less of what you don’t need, and more of what you want, like time and money.”
Becker feels that we’ve reached a saturation point with the possessions we've accumulated at which the items don't make us any happier. “Material belongings become more of a burden than a blessing,” he says.
Becker’s own journey with minimalism began about 10 years ago. While cleaning out his garage and watching his son play alone nearby, he realized that the belongings he was organizing were not adding value to, but actually detracting from his life and keeping him from what he really wanted to be doing. His story and subsequent stories he's shared on his website have inspired millions around the world to “find more life by owning fewer possessions.”
Here's how you can live a happier, more fulfilling life by practicing minimalism.
How do you begin?
There’s no need to feel overwhelmed or anxious about minimalism. Remember, there are no rules, and you only do what you are comfortable doing. “A little minimalism is better than none at all,” says Becker. Begin with the easiest space or room by purposefully getting rid of all the items you don’t need or use, like clothes that haven’t been worn for a long time and kitchen implements that you don’t use.
Becker says resist the urge to simply reorganize, which is almost always just a temporary solution, and instead sort your belongings into four groups: trash, give away, keep and relocate. Take your time with this process and carefully consider where each individual item best fits.
Need help? Learn about the infamous KonMari Method and the "life-changing magic of tidying up."
How do you get the kids on board?
Becker says that kids are usually good at embracing minimalism. Among other benefits, the process will empower them to make their own decisions and to learn about living within limits. Demonstrate your own commitment by tackling one of your own spaces first, and give your child a small space like a closet or toy box to sort through. Let them choose what to keep, based on what toys fit into that amount of space.
What should you do with all the belongings you no longer need?
Do your research and donate to a local charity that you believe in. You can also have a garage sale, drop them off at a consignment store, or sell the items online to recoup some of the money spent. For the items that are at the end of their lifeline, check to see if they can be recycled before throwing them into the garbage.
What are the benefits of living minimally?
After making just one small change, Becker predicts your simplified space will feel peaceful. Your home will be easier to clean and keep organized, resulting in more time to spend doing what you really want — and you'll have the money to do so. Plus, you’ll be a positive example for your kids, as they will learn to be less focused on consumption and kinder to the environment.
What do you do after the purge?
Resist excessive consumerism and purchase less. If you're having trouble, consult the above image of the "Buyerarchy of Needs” by Sarah Lasorovic. Make better use of what’s already available to you, prior to making a purchase. Buying should be your last resort.
Concentrate on spending your time and money on pursuing experiences, rather than stuff, and you're bound to feel more fulfilled.