The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Minimalism

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Up until a week ago, I thought minimalism was throwing away everything you own and sleeping on a cot. 

In case you were wondering- I was wrong.

 I became interested in the idea of minimalism because of the promise of creating a simpler life. After all, I created a whole site about running a home simply and efficiently... (it is this one, don't think too hard ;) 

So I decided to indulge my wandering mind. I did a quick search on Pinterest (the source of all knowledge) and before I knew it, I was fascinated with the concept of minimalism!

The benefits of minimalism stretch far beyond organization and keeping a clean house, though those benefits have been clearly shown. 

What I became interested in, was the minimalistic mindset. I have always had a strong sense of connection to home. I have a deep desire to make my home a haven and not a burden. 

We often times feel overwhelmed/anxious/upset when we walk in the door and only see a to do list. 

I have to wash the dishes, vacuum the rugs, clean the toilets, buy the groceries, fix dinner, fold the laundry, mow the grass...

Before you know it, walking into your house is no longer a sigh of relief but is adding to the stress of everyday life. Minimalism strives to create intentionality not complacency. At its root, the minimalistic mindset eliminates needless things and focuses only on things that bring joy. 

So, what is minimalism?

As I read more into the minimalistic mindset, I realized that defining minimalism is difficult. It is not a cut and dry, black and white definition; because it is a mindset, a lifestyle, a way of life.

I read 'What is Minimalism' from The Minimalists and here is how I summed it up.

Minimalism:

allows you to live a purpose driven life (whatever purpose that may be)

frees the mind and spirit from discontent

provides an escape from the excesses of the world

 shifts focus from nonessentials to essentials

Much of minimalism focuses on self reflection and thought. Allowing yourself to be okay with silence, blank space, and time to rest provides the mind with a deeper understanding of itself. 

Focusing on a purpose, only comes after your self reflections leads you to discover said purpose. Are you tracking?

So. When you reflect, and find that the source of your stress begins in the home, what do you do?

According to the minimalistic mindset, you get rid of things that don't bring you joy, and focus on the things that do. 

If your home stresses you out- eliminate the bulk of your possessions to focus on a cleaner, easier to maintain house.

Ok, but why does this matter? 

There are many benefits to living a minimalistic lifestyle, and there are many brilliant minds discussing it. 

less stress

 Photo:  No Side Bar  

Photo: No Side Bar 

Allison from No Side Bar touches on the stress reducing benefits of minimalism, saying: 

Imagine a world where you didn’t have to come home to a cluttered house, didn’t have to wake up early on a Saturday morning for something you didn’t really want to do in the first place, and didn’t have to show up at the office every day for a job that made you feel like your soul was dying.

Positive Outlook

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Melissa has a fantastic article about the mindset shift that comes along with minimalism. She says, 

After you embrace the minimalist mindset, you no longer feel like you always need more. You no longer tie your happiness to what you own, thinking if once you get the latest and greatest “thing” you’ll feel happy. You stop believing you’ll be happy as soon as you make your next purchase.
Your happiness and self-worth are no longer dependent on what you own. You realize the things you own are here to serve you, either by being useful or bringing you joy. What you own does not define you as a person or determine your happiness.

Focus on things that matter

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The minimalistic mind focuses on what is important, not what is popular. Each person has to discover what is important to them in their own journey. Rebecca comments on her  shift in focus here, saying:

I wanted to do more things. I wanted to be busier. Because I thought busy meant I was living a productive and full life.
Minimalism taught me the opposite. I don't have to do everything. And I don't even want to anymore.
I've become very selective about what I spend my time doing. I have fewer hobbies than I used to. I only do the things I really love now. And I have fewer social obligations than I used to (which wasn't many to begin with), because I learned that I need more time alone than I thought I did.
My priorities shifted from being busy to spending more time with coffee and cats.

Decrease in household tasks

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So, who doesn't want to spend LESS time doing laundry and other household errands? Eliminating clothes and other items in your house makes sure that less time is spent cleaning, and being 'busy' with tasks and more time is spent intentionally. Rachelle comments on her huge decrease in time spent running errands saying a typical day resembled this:

It would look like a quick stop at Lowes to look for a new light, then swing by Home Goods for a few picture frames and a new bathroom rug, a look at new tables at World Market and then stop by Target for some new tank tops and kids clothes. I would proceed to spend well more than I had intended too on any and everything I fell in love with, all while appeasing my children with their popcorn.
Since minimalism, I have cut out about 90% of my errand running. So much of my errand running, purchasing, and item replacing was out of habit. Pausing before purchasing has helped to break my habit. 

Your home becomes a sanctuary

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This is my favorite benefit of minimalism. Making your home a sanctuary is one of the most important things to me and one of the reasons I am devouring any resource I can get on minimalism. Mia's site is a fantastic resource for those considering minimalism. Her guest post from Sheila Price highlights the benefits of minimalism for introverts and says this about the home:

Minimalism helps introverts create the sanctuary they so desperately need. A minimalist home is uncluttered. It is calming because your home is only filled with things what you love and make you happy. And, a minimalist home isn’t too large for you to handle and keep clean, so you aren’t exhausted from trying to keep up.

Where do I start?

I know it can be overwhelming and scary to begin something new. I have done my best to make a simple list of things that you can do TODAY to begin your minimalist journey. I hope you enjoy, I want to hear about all of your awesome successes!

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