Everyone’s interpretation of a minimal, simple life is different. We all have different lives, filled with unique experiences that have shaped us into who we are. Our reasons are diverse, yet the same for living a more minimal lifestyle compared to the cultural tendency towards over consumption in every form. Some of us may be living with fewer possessions because we can’t physically take care of more, others may be intentionally paring down what they currently own in an effort to focus on what is important to them, or to find out what is important to them. Others may enjoy open space in their homes and fewer items to clean, freeing up their time and energy for other pursuits.
Even with these differences, there remain several ‘pillars’ upon which almost all minimalists and simple living advocates would agree make up the core reasons for pursuing a minimalistic, simpler life.
Intention. Living a simpler life is an intentional choice. In our society the continuous search for the next activity, device, trip, promotion or social share easily pulls us into a fast-paced life that fills every waking moment of every day with more, more, more, unless we are intentional. Minimalism at it’s core removes everything that is not useful, relevant or loved in our lives, exposing the possessions, relationships and commitments we can’t, or don’t want to live without. When we consciously consider removing the unimportant from our lives, the majority of people find they are engaged in activities and own many things that are draining them of energy and focus, instead of contributing to their wellbeing. Make the decision to live intentionally.
Less. Minimalism means less in all areas of life. Less in relation to simple and minimal living means that you keep only those possessions, activities, commitments and people who are bringing value to your life, and who you bring value to as well. The removal of everything else gives you less; less to worry about, less to buy, less to clean and less to do. Living with less requires a deliberate removal of all things in your life that are not making a valuable enough contribution to your happiness. Most people who espouse simple living and minimalism find that physical possessions tend to be the biggest culprit when identifying what is providing the least amount of value in comparison to how much energy is spent on it. Second in line may be commitments, to which many of us have a hard time saying no, even when it means overextending our time and energy. Make the decision to live with less so you can find more meaning in your life.
Focus. Once life has been filled with more time, more energy, more freedom and more money because you are living with less, and intentionality has replaced the ever present need for busyness, focus becomes the main aspect of living simply and minimally. It’s not enough to simply get rid of things, commitments and negative relationships. Once that has been done, it takes focus to continue to live intentionally, bringing back into your life only those things that will add value, whether they are purchases, activities or relationships. Living mindfully and with awareness is what allows you to recognize advertising tactics designed to make you ‘want’, or to find the words to say ‘no’ to a commitment or activity that will drain too much of your time and energy, and to even gracefully decline or bow out of a relationship that is no longer positive. Make the decision to focus on living simply.
These pillars of intention, less and focus bring clarity, mindfulness and increased joy in life. Intentionally living with less and keeping your focus on what you value most, will bring contentment and happiness. Make the decision to let these pillars of minimalism give you strength and focus on what is truly important.