“The secret of happiness is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.”
One of the biggest status indicators in society is the things you have.
Society taught and conditioned me to believe the path to success and happiness is to accumulate things. But to afford the fancy clothes, the fast car, or the big house, I must have a well-paying job.
This was only possible if I did well in school.
As a result, I followed that path to the letter and bought the luxurious car.
It felt satisfying but ephemeral.
I didn’t feel successful or happy.
I thought I had to purchase more things to reach significance and happiness. Therefore, I worked harder to earn more money so I can buy joy by displaying my achievements with material objects.
But the feelings of success and happiness never appeared.
Determined to fill this void, I forced myself to look elsewhere. That’s when I started valuing experiences instead of things.
Those events forged unforgettable memories and vivid emotions stayed within me. But to create those wonderful times, some physical things are required.
They add value to my life.
This is the core principle of minimalism.
Becoming a minimalist doesn’t mean living with just the bare essentials, but it’s about owning things that truly add value to my life.
For example, my road bike is important to me because I use it to train for bike races and to stay physically active.
For someone who doesn’t ride, the bicycle wouldn’t add any value to his or her life.
Each one’s definition of minimalism is different because everyone has dissimilar values and beliefs.
Minimalism Can Be Your Solution
According to the statistic of the professional organizer Regina Lark, the average U.S. household has about 300,000 things.
That is a lot of stuff!
Many forms of advertisement encourage your love for consumption.
The negative effects of having many things can overwhelm you by creating unnecessary mental and financial stress. This is also not mentioning the large physical space required to store the extra things.
By deeply understanding what brings values to your life, you can remove the things that don’t.
In return, you will have more time to focus on the activities and people that do.
You’ll free up the clutter and eradicate the physical and emotional burden of carrying on the additional “weight.”
It’s a powerful way to reduce excess and simplify your life.
When you only own things that truly bring joy to your life, you can live a more meaningful life because everything you have serves a specific purpose.
To help you declutter and prevent purchasing unnecessary things, ask yourself these questions.
“Does this add value to my life?”
“What is the real “cost” (time, money, opportunity, etc.) of buying this?”
“How could my life improve if I don’t buy this?”
You may feel differently about getting rid of things that have sentimental value.
These could range from a small pin to a huge house.
For example, one of my favorite hobbies is traveling.
Every time I visited a new country, I bought a postcard and added it to my collection.
But what I have discovered is I don’t need them to remember all those wonderful memories.
The recollections are inside me. The emotions, feelings, and experiences rise by seeing the souvenirs.
But I don’t need to keep them to retain the memories. As a result, I have stopped collecting postcards from my travels.
Before I threw them away, I took pictures of each.
Now every time I see them, I think of the adventures of navigating through each country. In addition, I take videos of my trips with people who I have met along the way to remind myself of the fun times.
Taking photographs of your sentimental things is a great way to hold to those memories virtually. This will reduce physical space as well as mental stress for having to take care of them.
But be aware of creating excess mental clutter with too many pictures.
The Importance of Your Environment
The concept of “subtraction” can also be applied to relationships.
Do you have those that drag you down and pull you away from your goals?
What about negative people (energy vampires) that drain your energy?
Would you like to surround yourself with others who lift you up?
Your surrounding plays a key role in your life because it influences you in subtle yet impactful ways.
When you’re consistently exposed to an environment for a long period of time, you will eventually adapt and become it.
For example, if you’re aiming to be healthier, you will be more successful when you confine yourself to nutrient-dense food and spend time with people who’re into healthy living.
However, if you surround yourself with poor nourishment and engage with those who don’t prioritize their wellness, you will have a difficult time achieving your goals.
That’s because you’re the product of your environment.
If there are people who pull you further away from your dreams, you should consider reducing your interaction with them.
By doing so, you’re expressing self-respect by choosing what is most important to you.
For extreme measures, you might have to eliminate all interactions with those who embody detrimental influences.
This might be cruel, but you must do what is best for yourself.
There’s no right or wrong. You two are no longer a right fit together.
You have outgrown the other person.
By doing so, you give yourself the opportunity to meet other like-minded people.
When you strictly and strategically surround yourself with those who have similar values, you will excel and progress faster and farther than you ever have before.
The purpose of minimalism is to remove things that don’t serve you. In effect, you can have more freedom to do what you deeply value.
Your best investment is always in yourself and one of them is your time.
When you declutter and live with less, everything that remains is important because it adds value to your life.
The added meaning is in the form of having more time to pursue a new hobby or spend with a friend.
The opportunities are endless.
The benefits of living with the essentials include having less stress and anxiety.
By eliminating the excess noise, the unnecessary things, and negative people from your life, you can start focusing on living a worthwhile life.
If you would like to read more about minimalism, please check out The Minimalist Blog.
They have inspiring stories and more ways to help you declutter your life.
Minimalism is not for everyone and the choice is entirely up to you.
I am on a mission to help as many people as I can. But I can’t do that without your help. If you have a second, please share this article with anyone who you may think will find it valuable and helpful.
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MacVean, Mary. “For many people, gathering possessions is just the stuff of life.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 21 Mar. 2014. Web. 01 Jan. 2017.