That’s the average number of items in an American household.
With hectic and cluttered lives and the pressure to constantly buy more, ramping consumerism has become commonplace.
Consumerism as we know it started at the beginning of the 20th century. And as time went by, mass production and globalization have made a wide variety of goods available to all, placing consumption at the center of our existences, permeating our everyday lives, and structuring our daily practices.
And so, we live in societies where we believe material possessions are key to our happiness and well-being. The more we own, the better we’re supposed to feel.
But is it the reality?
Numerous studies show that the more you buy, the unhappier you get.
It might sound counterintuitive but being less materialistic leads to a more mindful and happier life.
In this article, we’ll detail exactly what “less is more” means and where the concept originated. We’ll then highlight the main benefits of minimalism before sharing some tips on how to achieve a minimalist lifestyle.
What Does “Less Is More” Mean?
”Less is more” is a proverb meaning that having fewer things is better than having too many things. The expression suggests that there’s great value in simplicity, and we can, in fact, accomplish more with less.
That’s because having less allows you to focus on what really matters and gives you the time and space to reflect on your goals and achieve clarity about what makes you happy in life.
But more than a simple proverb, “Less is more” has become a lifestyle millions have embraced over the last few years.
Whether it’s a cluttered brain or a messy room, too much stuff can create chaos, preventing you from being happy and achieving fulfillment.
“Less is more,” also called minimalism or minimalist life started as an art movement in the 1960s. It refers to artworks stripped down to their most essential elements. With minimalist paintings, what you see is what you see. Minimalist artists never seek to convey a feeling or an emotion or reproduce an image of reality.
Of course, a minimalist style has moved beyond the boundary of art and is now all about living a simpler life–with simple being defined by each individual. It’s about personal style and ways to simplify your life without burden. It’s about intentional choices on what matters for the life you dream of.
Why Is Minimalism On The Rise?
While until a few years ago, material possessions were the ultimate goal in life, these days, younger generations are yearning for more meaningful lives and favor experiences over material possessions.
Current economic uncertainty, combined with the long-lasting effects of the pandemic on our lives and the desire to preserve Earth’s natural resources, underpins the minimal movement. Minimalist fashion and art deco are represented by neutral color palettes, soft textures, minimalist lines, simple sculptures, and elegance. It’s a form of abstract expressionism and mindset.
Top 5 Benefits Of Minimalism
While there are many more benefits to taking a “less is more” approach to life, we’ve highlighted some of the most significant ones below.
1. Achieving Peace Of Mind
What if we told you there’s a clear connection between your physical possessions and mental health?
Studies show that people who live in cluttered environments are more prone to stress, anxiety, and depression. According to research, living among clutter prompts the body to release higher levels of cortisol, a hormone the human body releases in response to stress.
Therefore, clearing out your closet or sorting your drawers can tremendously impact your mental health, helping you reduce stress and achieve peace of mind.
Think about it this way; the fewer things you worry about, the more peace you get.
Look back at the last time you had a proper clear out of your home or bedroom. Sure, it might have been a while ago. But can you remember the relief and calm you felt once you were done?
A clean and tidy space will help alleviate stress and anxiety and allow you to enjoy the calm oasis your home should be.
2. Giving Your More Freedom
“We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.” – Dave Ramsey.
Dave Ramsey is right (on some things).
Many of us possess or want to possess things we don’t really need just because we feel pressured to do so by social norms and want to impress others. So, we work hard for them, sacrificing our work-life balance and even sometimes staying in a job we don’t like.
After all, the need for acceptance is a basic human instinct, and it’s completely normal to want to fit in. But fitting in by doing things you don’t want to do so that you can acquire more things you don’t need can also hold you a prisoner of social norms as you let them dictate your lifestyle choices.
Now, imagine how it would feel to let go of all this pressure and only do what you genuinely want to do?
If you didn’t need to buy all these things, you could afford to take more days off, enjoy quality time with your loved ones or travel the world. Perhaps, you could also afford to change careers and do something that gives you purpose and that you’re genuinely passionate about.
Living a minimalist lifestyle will allow you to break away from things, live a free life, and be content with what you have.
And this is ultimate happiness!
3. Increasing Your Productivity
Piles of paper on your desk, a cluttered dining table, or clothes on your bedroom floor might seem harmless enough.
Yet, they’re anything but!
Clutter tends to have a negative effect on our brain. Our brains like order and clutter is a constant reminder of disorganization. And this relentless visual distraction drains our cognitive resources, impacting our ability to focus and reducing our working memory.
Many studies have shown that decluttering your home or work environment can significantly boost your productivity. One study, in particular, revealed the benefits of decluttering on our ability to process information and increase our working memory, thereby increasing productivity levels.
4. Spending More Time Enjoying Your Hobbies
Women make 301 trips to the store every year.
That’s over 400 hours a year spent in shops. And to put this in perspective, this figure represents 8.5 years spent shopping over a typical person’s lifetime.
What’s more, 96% of adults report participating in retail therapy.
That’s a lot of people spending a lot of time trying to keep up appearances and maintaining a certain lifestyle, buying things they don’t necessarily need or want. And this precious time could be allocated to doing things they love, helping them grow personally.
Imagine if people spent 400 hours painting, exploring new places, sailing, catching up with friends, playing with their kids, or playing sports every year instead. Imagine if YOU could spend an extra 400 hours a year doing what you love.
You’d feel much more fulfilled and energized.
Living a minimalist lifestyle will allow you to free up time and energy to enjoy leisure activities that will benefit your mental and physical health.
5. Building A Better Financial Future
One of the most tangible benefits of living a minimalist lifestyle is that you’ll immediately save money.
It’s pretty straightforward; the less you buy, the more you save.
It might not seem like much, but buying a sandwich press because it was on sale, three pairs of socks because all of your socks are currently in the washing basket, or the latest iPhone because all of your colleagues have it, adds up at the end of the month, leaving you with little to nothing to spare.
Saying no to things you don’t need will allow you to increase your savings quickly. And this will motivate you and make you forget all about the material things you didn’t need in the first place.
Having more money to spare at the end of the month can allow you to build your wealth over time and lead to financial freedom. For instance, you could pay off your debt much faster and start investing your money.
The power of compounding will then allow you to accumulate returns and reinvest them to generate even more earnings.
How To Achieve A Minimalist Lifestyle?
Minimalism isn’t about being boring or getting rid of most of your things and living in empty rooms. It’s more about identifying what adds value to your life and brings you joy and parting with things that don’t. This way, you can eliminate the clutter that burdens you.
Whether you want to start the process of living a more minimalist lifestyle or have already started but are finding yourself stuck, here’s a little guide we put together to help you:
Be Clear On Why You Want To Live A Minimalist Lifestyle
Decluttering your home, workspace, and life, in general, can be challenging. That’s because it might be hard to part ways with some of your things.
Perhaps some of them have been with you forever, and you’re getting nostalgic thinking about letting them go. Or you might think that you’ll get to use some of them later and don’t want to toss them away in case you have to buy something similar down the road.
Yet, chances are, if you’ve barely used these items, you won’t need them in the future.
Being clear as to why you’re doing it can be critical as it’ll help remind you of your goal, fuel your motivation and keep you going even when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Perhaps you want to create more space in your home, save money, limit your carbon footprint, or all of the above.
No matter the reason, knowing why you’re doing it is the best way to ensure you successfully move towards a more minimalist lifestyle.
Take It One Step At A Time
You’re inspired and ready to start.
But don’t try to do everything at once and be a superhero. The best way to declutter your space and your life efficiently is to take it one step at a time. After all, to achieve your big goals, you first need to achieve smaller goals.
Let’s imagine you want to declutter your home, as well as your digital life. You’ll need to break down these big goals into smaller milestones.
For instance, if you want to declutter your home, start with one room and list all the spots that need decluttering in this room. It could be cleaning and reorganizing the closets, drawers, and shelves. Once you’ve listed all the spots that need reorganized, assess a realistic time frame.
Working on your goals a little bit daily will make the whole task much more manageable. And this, in turn, will allow you to stay motivated as you go.
Besides, think of this as a lifestyle change that will help you live a more fulfilling life rather than a project you have to finish.
Minimalist interiors focus on creating white space and removing all the stuff that doesn’t add value to your life. There’s minimalist art that you can highlight while maintaining a minimalistic design. Aesthetics matter, but the focus is clutter-free.
Minimal-style closets include capsule wardrobes with a few staple items and clearly labeled bins for items you need to keep. You’ll have kitchen cabinets that inspire you to cook because they hold all your most prized cooking possessions. You’ll save time in the morning with uncluttered drawers in the bathroom.
Get In The Right Mindset
Mindset is key to a “less is more” attitude and lifestyle. It’s about finding joy and gratitude. It’s about being satisfied when you need to throw out something old and promoting self-care and loving yourself.
Find your zen. The minimalist seeks simplicity, usefulness, and clarity with less focus on material possessions and more focus on value in life. Clear the clutter so you can focus on your priorities and goals.
We get it. You’re ready to get started and de-clutter everything—uh—yesterday.
Opening a garbage bag and dumping everything you don’t want to keep is quick and easy.
Yet, someone else could use your items or recycle them.
One of the best things you can do is donate your clothes to someone you know or a charity. You can also organize a big garage sale or sell them on the marketplace. Lastly, as mentioned before, certain items can be recycled. So, read up about the recycling options for things you can’t sell or donate.
You should only throw away things you can’t sell, donate, or recycle.
Ready To Take The “Less Is More” Approach?
Fear not. The “less is more” approach isn’t about downsizing to a tiny home or giving up all possessions. It’s a voluntary simplicity with a simplistic design.
Living a minimalist lifestyle can allow you to create a life of more. More time and energy to spend on the things that matter. More money to spend on experiences and doing the things you love. More joy in your life. More clarity on what makes you happy.
After all, like Socrates once said, “the secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.” So, embrace the process to remove the unnecessary, and enjoy the ride to simplifying your life, mind, and home.
Theresa Bedford is a syndicated freelance home and travel writer with regular contributions to the Associated Press wire and MSN. She helps everyday people love the life they have through simplicity, organization, and prioritization.