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The Surprising Benefits of Minimalism on Your Mental Health

Mar 01, 2021

Over the past few years, the push toward minimalism has gained momentum through social media influencers, podcasts, and bloggers. At first glance, it seems like these people are just telling you to get rid of your possessions. But what exactly is minimalism? At its heart, the concept of minimalism is rooted in the practice of intentionality. 

Minimalists regularly go through an internal search for what genuinely makes them happy, and typically, they live a life of valuing experiences over things. By being intentional with their purchases and the things they surround themselves with, minimalists find that what matters more is not the possessions they own. Instead, it is the experiences they have and share with those that are important to them.

Minimalism in Our World

Studies have shown that minimalism is associated with improved mental wellness and overall life satisfaction. Having less stuff sounds easy, but how does it make you happier? We live in a society where consumerism is the ruling lifestyle. We are consumed by the idea that buying this product or that gadget will make us happy. These corporations feed us a narrative that whatever they’re selling is what we need to “be happy”.

A new car or a fuller closet, that’s what will make your life better! In reality, studies have shown that materialism (a tendency to prioritize material possessions and physical comfort over other things) is linked to depression and loneliness. And this makes sense because the more items we have, the more time we spend taking care of those things and maintaining those things instead of engaging in hobbies, discovering new interests, and spending time with our loved ones. 

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe that most of us care more about our stuff than our loved ones. But let’s be honest, we live in a scary world. How many of us have scrolled through Instagram or binge-watched a TV show instead of calling a friend? How many of us have online shopped to take our minds off of the pandemic? I know I have. All we want is to feel is a sense of security.

Unfortunately, we go about it the wrong way. In the end, a cluttered space allows for a cluttered mind. The items we own will never make us as happy as the experiences that satisfy our souls' will. Nor do they compare to talking with the people that touch our hearts. 

How to Get Started

So this all sounds great, but how can we get started? Minimalism seems like a big jump from where we are, and it is hard to get rid of things. The good news is, you don’t have to do it all at once. For any new habit or lifestyle, you can always take small steps to get to your goal. With minimalism, starting simple might be the best way to go. Remember, it’s all about intentionality and being in touch with your inner self. The best way to start living a minimalist life is to spend some time with yourself and honestly evaluate your life.

Am I truly content with where I am? Where do I spend most of my time? When was the last time that I remember being completely happy? The goal for this is to change your thoughts and identify your priorities. For many of us, that would look like the people and passions we love. Having this self-awareness in our daily lives will make it easier to live minimally moving forward. But what about the things you have now? It can be easy to get overwhelmed, but there are two easy ways to figure out if the possessions you have are helping you live your best life. 

The 90/90 Rule 

Minimalists Joshua Fields Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus developed the 90/90 rule to help their audience begin living minimally. You start with a single possession and ask, “Did I use this in the last 90 days? Will I use it in the next 90 days?” If the answer is no, then you can feel free to let it go and move on without wondering what if or just in case. The great thing is, this rule is fully customizable. Maybe you use the 120/120 rule or a six-month rule. Whatever it is, make sure that you stick by it. 

The KonMari Method 

If you’ve watched Marie Kondo on Netflix, you may already be familiar with this concept. The idea is that for excess items, such as clothing, houseware, etc., you hold each item and ask yourself if this item sparks joy. It can be hard to know what this means. For each item, it will probably be different.

For a piece of clothing, it can mean, “This makes me feel beautiful and confident when I wear it.” For a household decoration, it can mean, “This makes me feel happy when I look at it.” In contrast to the 90/90 rule, which is more objective, the KonMari Method is all about how these items make you feel. Neither is incorrect; the right one is whichever one is the right fit for you! 

What’s Next?

Now, you may be wondering what happens to all the items you’re not keeping. Just because they no longer serve you doesn’t mean that they won’t be useful to someone else. Selling or donating these items is a great way to keep this practice sustainable. There are several online platforms to sell used items, and there are several organizations that will provide these items to individuals and families who actually need them. 

Now that you know how minimalism can help you and how to get started, you’re well on your way to living your best life!

Additional Resources

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