Inside: Here you’ll find three important minimalist principles EVERYONE can adopt to live more purposefully and joyfully.
Yeah, that’s right. I said everyone.
Now, I typically take a more “you do you” approach to minimalism, but there is so much more to becoming a minimalist than reducing the number of material possessions in your home. Besides, contrary to what you’ll find portrayed in Google images when you enter the search term, “minimalism,” living as a minimalist doesn’t mean your walls are white and your furniture, uncomfortable. It doesn’t require you ditch your Insta-Pot in exchange for a Dutch oven, or your plastic toothbrush for a bamboo one. Sure, it certainly can if that’s what you’re after, you do you. (See? There it is).
But there really are no rules or requirements when executing minimalism because it’s a lifestyle meant to serve you, not the other way around. It’s bendable, shapable, adaptable to your individual uniqueness. It’s for making your own so that your lifestyle aligns with your priorities, not mine. Not The Minimalists’. Not Marie Kondo’s. Not some picture-perfect minimalist family you’ve been following on Instagram. And certainly not with what your friends and family assume minimalism should look like either. Just yours.
Minimalism is meant to make how you spend your time, money and capacity reflect what you value most. How you execute it should therefore be unique to you.
This is why I believe, even if you’re uninterested in or unable to declutter your space right now, every single person can benefit from adopting a minimalist mindset.
Here are three minimalist principles everyone should implement in order to live each day with greater intention,
1. Intentionally Reduce Decisions
A minimalist mindset is one that is always on the lookout for ways to reduce the number of decisions we must make and simplify daily routines. Not because we’re lazy, but because we know our time and energy is valuable and limited. With fewer frivolous decisions draining away our bandwidth, we’ll have more energy left to invest in the things that matter, more energy to create meaningful work, and a greater capacity to show up present for the people and moments that matter.
I love these words by Lisa Avellan of Simple and Soul. She sums it up perfectly.
“Creating routines that require little to no decision making is a daily act of self-compassion.” -Lisa Avellan
Intentional simplicity is about working smarter, not harder.
For example, I pack my kids the same lunch every single day. Sure, now and then they’ll get hot lunch- typically if syrup is a condiment- or I’ll occasionally send along leftovers. All in all, most of the year, they are eating the exact same lunch, every single day.
I don’t do this because I’m out of lunch ideas… well, maybe some days. No, I do it because routines such as these leave me with a greater capacity for more important things throughout my day, and our mornings run smoother because of it. I can pack lunches blindfolded.
On top of simplifying lunch packing, I’ve also simplified our meal plan to the point where it’s almost ridiculous, and I keep a minimalist capsule wardrobe, wearing my same favorite outfits on repeat.
Which areas of your life if intentionally simplified, would reduce the number of decisions you make and free you up to find more joy, calm and purpose in your day?
2. Choose Quality Over Quantity
Choosing quality over quantity is a principle typically associated with how minimalists makes new purchases. It says, for example, that it’s better to own fewer, high quality tops you love, than thirty low-quality ones that make you feel wonky when you wear them or won’t last through more than a handful of dryer cycles. However, this concept extends much further than stuff. Deciding to choose quality over quantity can influence how we use our time and attention as well.
Having less stuff in my home has given me a space I’m much more capable of managing. While I used to shop clearance racks at outlet malls as if it were my part time job, I now would much rather own just a handful of higher-quality items I’m certain will last.
However, it’s important to me that we clarify that buying “quality” items, doesn’t mean high-end, trending, name-brand items from expensive boutiques. You can find quality anywhere from big box stores and high-end boutiques, to garage sales and thrift stores. Shopping thrift stores being my personal favorite. I recently found an adorable, high quality wool flannel on the rack at Goodwill for $4. Bam!
When we choose to own fewer high-quality items instead of keeping an overabundance of low-quality options, our stuff will last longer. On top of that, we’ll reduce waste, save money in the long run, and keep clutter from accumulating within our home. Thus, creating for ourselves fewer decisions and a home that is easier to maintain.
Instead of saying yes to every opportunity, extracurricular activity and task, get picky. Using your time like a minimalist means you’re more intentional about what you say yes to.
When you say yes to every engagement and opportunity, you leave yourself with less capacity for the ones that are truly important to you. Using your time with intention begins by first learning how to say no and then developing an understand for when to use it. Not everything is meant for you. Not every opportunity should be pursued. Knowing how you should be spending your time becomes a whole lot easier when you know who you are, where your skills lie, and your areas of weakness. If you want to know more about yourself, I highly recommend looking into the enneagram.
Whether you like it or not, your capacity is limited. Stop overextending yourself and committing to any and everything. Instead, invest it in the things that matter most.
Showing up, present, whole heartedly and attentive, is another way we can implement the principle of quality over quantity into our lives. I tend to be very easily distracted, turning my attention from where I currently am to anything that pops into my brain.
My kids refer to it as my “Mmm hmmm mode.” It’s pretty much my superpower. “Mmmm hmmm mode” is when I suddenly become distracted and usually occurs when I’m trying to multi-task. I used to think I was really good at multi-tasking, but really, I was just very good at giving a fraction of my attention to multiple things at the same time.
In the words of Jim Elliot, “Wherever you are be there.”
3. Stop Letting Changing Trends Dictate Your Style
Last year we gave the interior of our home a fresh coat of paint. It was time. How a child can manage to fling his body into a love seat with such force that it flips backward and crushes the corner of a wall is beyond me. I guess in his defense, we have been building them indoor ninja obstacle courses since they could walk, so it’s probably on us. This is likely why some families take a whole, “don’t jump on the furniture” approach to parenting. Hindsight.
I knew it would be quite a few years before we painted again so I wanted to get the paint color right. I decided on light gray with a hint of beige. You know, a perfect greige.
After approximately four thousand trips to Sherwin Williams, and about eighty-five thousand small squares of varying shades of greige painted on my living room walls I still couldn’t decide. They all just seemed too… well… gray. Now, let’s move past the obvious lesson on the trouble with too many choices and becoming overwhelmed by decision fatigue in order to address what took me way too long to realize.
I don’t like gray walls.
While it looks wonderful in other people’s homes, we are more of a tan family. I thought I wanted gray walls because gray walls are in style right now. However, after fifteen years of home ownership, I’ve learned how quickly, and frequently home decor trends change. It’s so important to know what you like apart from what’s trending, so you don’t get tossed around by paid advertisement and everyone else’s opinion. Don’t let new or changing trends tell you how or when to update your home. Discover and then own your style.
It doesn’t just start and stop with paint colors either. From jeans to boots to wall art, knowing what you like will help you avoid being pushed and pulled by every changing trend.
Is Minimalism for You?
After four years of writing in the minimalist space I’ve learned that creating a minimalist home isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Not everyone is interested in clearing out the clutter, building a capsule wardrobe, wearing a uniform or willing to live with fewer material possessions.
I’ve also learned that though one may want to create a minimalist home, there are plenty of factors that get in the way. Significant others may disagree, time constraints may prevent progress, work requirements can make decluttering next to impossible, physical health can be a major hurdle and then there’s this whole pandemic thing.
However, adopting these three minimalist principles, no matter your relationship with stuff, can help you craft a life that energizes you. Even if you don’t think minimalism is for you, a minimalist mindset is something that will lighten your load, bring clarity, increase your capacity and help you to feel less overwhelmed.
If you are considering minimalism, but unsure of where to begin or currently find yourself stuck in the process, here is a resource that will help…
Need Some Serious Decluttering Motivation?
Here we will tackle 3 common decluttering obstacles so you can let go and get uncluttered for good. If you’ve ever gotten started and then gotten stuck, this FREE resource is for you!