Five unexpected benefits of Minimalism
As a Minimalist one of the questions I get asked the most is, "Why?" People don't really understand why I would choose to get rid of so much, and live with less. "Things are nice aren't they?" "Shopping is fun isn't it?" "Consumerism is harmless really, right?" It's a tricky one to answer, and I find that it's easier to understand once you have experienced some of the benefits that living a Minimalist life gives. So I thought I would take a bit of time to share with you all the benefits of minimalism that I love the most, many of which were completely unexpected.
Freedom is a benefit of Minimalism widely shared across the community as the number one thing people have gained. That word on it's own; Freedom, seems a little strange linked to Minimalism. There probably aren't many people who would say they were being held prisoner by their possessions, so what are minimalists going on about freedom for?
When you first start clearing out the excess from your home, it can feel quite difficult to part with things. You feel concerned you might need it down the road, you're worried about offending the giver of the item, or, for reasons you can't articulate, you just feel unable to let it go. Well once you start parting with the easy stuff, and the world doesn't fall apart because you got rid of that hideous vase you never liked anyway, or you've found that you don't ever use more than one frying pan at a time anyway, so getting rid of the 7 "spares" you had, hasn't been as catastrophic as you'd imagined, you have less pause for thought over each new thing that's up for debate.
This adds a kind of separation between you and your things. This bit of distance is good, and it's healthy. We are not our possessions. Once you reach this point you feel free. Free from the weight of owning so much. Free from perceived societal pressures to own the right things, wear the right clothes, present your house in a style worthy of Pinterest whilst people actually live in it. (A task I'm pretty sure is impossible!)
There's also the freedom from acquiring more. We often used to spend rainy Saturdays wondering around the shops or visiting Ikea. We called it "window shopping" but we always ended up coming home with something new we just "had to have." Now I can't actually remember the last time we went to the shops, and it's been years since we last went to Ikea. I've never been the biggest fan of shopping so I can honestly say I don't miss it one bit.
There is an amazing freedom in being content with what you have and not always chasing after more. It is easy to see why this freedom is a firm favourite amongst Minimalists.
It's not hard to see that since our priorities have shifted we now have more time. Not literally, time is a constant, we all get the same 24 hours in a day. However, since we don't have lists of wants or needs to go shopping for each weekend, we can use that time more wisely. We've also learnt to not only question what "stuff" is adding more value, but what activities, relationships, etc. We have the freedom to make space in our lives for the things we really love and value. More time for exploring, more time for seeing friends, and most importantly, more time for the beach ;)
Less stuff also means less housework, which also gives us greater freedom over our time and how we spend it.
This was one of the benefits I wasn't convinced by when first looking into Minimalism. My house isn't going to change size or shape, I'll still need to hoover the same surface area and with 3 young children the bathroom will still need cleaning with alarming regularity. So how then will there be less housework?
Well, whilst I do still need to hoover and clean regularly, the lack of stuff everywhere means I don't have to spend half an hour tidying each room before I can hoover. A minimal amount of products in the bathroom makes the less cluttered surfaces much easier to clean. The children's toys all fit into their storage units so there isn't a constant overflow, or only one order in which to put things away if you want the door to close. Their minimalist wardrobes mean we wear the same things more often, but they are all favourite pieces, so everyone is happy and the laundry in a house of 5 is actually manageable.
I am no "Monica" when it comes to cleanliness but I rarely have moments anymore when I wouldn't feel comfortable with guests descending unexpectedly. In part, because even with my whirlwind kids running through the house leaving a trail of destruction in their wake there isn't enough stuff for it to be catastrophic in it's result, but also because I have a greater sense now of what is important to me. Life is too short to worry about what people think about my house. I certainly don't waste my time thinking about how clean your house is, I can only hope you give as little thought to mine.
With each new purchase now we ask ourselves a few questions. Why do we want/need this? Where will it live? Do we have space and money for it? Will it add value? The cost of an item is far greater when we give it this sort of thought. Meaning, inevitably, we buy a lot less, and spend a lot less money.
We have found that instead of having all of this extra cash we don't know what to do with, we have instead shifted our priorities and can now afford some of the finer things in life. Like day trips, meals out, adventures and holidays. Time spent together as a family doing things that make us happy. Minimalism definitely makes it easier to manage your finances, and being able to fill our lives with experiences instead of things has made me feel richer than any figure in my bank account could.
This shift in our finances has inevitably led to more travel. We used to dream of the day we would be able to afford holidays again. Now we are finding minimalism has given us both the time and the money to be able to travel. If you follow my blog you'll know we just got back from a trip to Rome, and we have also had some great "staycation" trips more locally this year too. I love being able to show my children our big, beautiful world, and I will always be grateful to Minimalism for opening up these opportunities for our family.
These are my five favourite benefits of Minimalism, but there are a lot more I haven't listed here. If you have been exploring Minimalism I'd love to hear from you in the comments what benefits you have found? And please, if you have any questions about Minimalism or our experiences with it please do ask.
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