I the summer of 2005, I got my first summer job. I worked at a factory assembling roller blinds. It was a tiring job but I was finally making some money on my own. I was 16 back then. How did you think I spend the money I earned that summer? English lessons? GYM membership? Books? No, I’ve spent all of the money I earned to buy new clothes. I wanted to be like the other kids, the cool kids, who were wearing cool sneakers and expensive jeans.
Why do I share with you the above? Because we caught this mindset from very little. Even though we are all different, we embrace uniformity. We look at what others have and we try to copy them. Look, act, sound like them.
In addition to that, we associate owning fewer things with poverty and inability to take a good care of ourselves and our family. Above all, we think that having less things, wearing pretty much the same clothes day after day, means that you’re a failure. At least that’s what others want you to believe.
In order to “fit” according to the outside world, you must obtain things like:
High paying job.
A car for each family member above 18.
A ton of clothes.
Vacations and restaurants on demand.
If you don’t have any of those, you’re an outcast. If you have 2 out of 8, you’re slowly climbing the social ladder. If you have 6 out of 8, your focus is on the two you lack. Meaning, you’re still not truly happy. It’s a vicious circle of sadness and dissatisfaction.
Contrary to our understanding, breaking free from this never-ending game of catching up with the Joneses, is not through getting more. It’s the opposite: having less.
In this article, I’ll share with you the main benefits of the minimalist lifestyle starting with:
1. More Free Time
Minimalism is something more than just a lifestyle, it’s an idea, a belief that you only need X amount of things, the right amount of things, not too little, not too much, in every aspect of your life. This includes clothes; jewelry; tableware; glassware; gadgets, and etc.1 Fewer things, or let say the right amount of possessions will give you something more than just a clean and tidy wardrobe, and home in general. It will save you time. A lot of time.
As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, I was quite a fashion addict. I’ve wasted money on clothes like crazy. Some of them I didn’t even wore a single time in my life. And when I was about to go out, I’ve spent something even more valuable: my time. At was preparing for at least an hour. “I’m a boy, and I shouldn’t be wasting so much time,” I thought. But I still did it back then.
My girl does the same thing even now. Like most of the girls, she spends a good hour (or let’s say two) doing her hair and deciding what to wear. Our bedroom looks like massacre when she starts preparing – clothes and make-up products scattered around the room. I tried several times to persuade her that she doesn’t have to own so many clothes and that less makeup is better, but as you can imagine, it was a lost fight.
Hopefully, I was able to overcome my obsession over time. This translated into more free time and more saved money. When you have fewer clothes to choose from, this makes the decision quite easy, also, it gives you a lot of additional time.
Each new thing you obtain is a potential time-waster. For example: Purchasing a coffee machine will require some time for cleaning it. Owning more clothes will require more time arranging them. Having a collection of hats will not only take more of your space, but it will also require your time, again, for cleaning. This is something really important but often neglected by a lot of people. Think about this when you go to the store next time: “Will this new thing save, or waste my time? And how much of it?”
2. Less Things To Worry About
If you become a person satisfied with less, a minimalist, you will probably never have to ask yourself the following question: “What should I wear on my best friends birthday party?” Ok, you will, but you will know the answer as soon as you ask the question.
Why? Because you have only a handful of options. Everything else is long gone.
Imagine a world where you don’t constantly ask yourself: “What am I going to wear?; Did somebody posted something new on social media?; What are we going to eat today?”
Imagine you already know the answer to these questions. How would you feel? Relieved, calm, focused. Well, this is what minimalism can give you. By focusing on the essentials, you will block the hundreds of thoughts trying to conquer your consciousness and make you worry about things you don’t have to worry.
If you don’t own a car, you won’t have to worry about paying for repairs, right? Less things means less things giving you a headache, thus you gain clarity and better direction in your life.
3. More Money
Obviously, by restraining yourself from purchasing more goods, you will have more money at your disposal.
If I track back all of the money I’ve spent on clothes since I was 16, the amount will be probably more than $10,000. Most of the items I wore only once and there are even pieces that I never wore. I remember that I was focused on the volume of clothes, not their quality. I was purchasing a lot of stupid things only to have something different to wear every single day. Why?
Well, if we examine the reason people purchase clothes, gadgets, goods in general, we will see that one of the main reason people shop like crazy is the dopamine injection they receive.2 But not only that, owning different things also gives you confidence. So, if you doubt yourself, you will more likely purchase things you don’t actually want, so you can impress people you don’t actually care about.
“We buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like.” Fight Club
I don’t know what kind of work you do for a living, but aren’t you irritated by the clutter around your workstation? I was.
The drawers on my desk were constantly full of papers, pens, other small things I didn’t actually need. The top of my desk was sheltering dozens of things. It was impossible to work in such a mess and I spend a lot of time cleaning things up.
Now, it’s quite different. I removed the useless stuff and I kept only the things I really use. This simple exercise saves me precious time when I sit to write. No longer looking for a pen or paper.
This is what I have on top of the desk:
Wireless headphones that are basically on my head when I’m working.
A coffee mug , full of coffee of course, put on top of a coaster.
A water bottle.
The prior list was longer than this article.
Productivity is the natural outcome of living a minimalist lifestyle. It’s much easier to focus on your work when you have fewer distractions around you.
5. Greater Purpose
Let’s see what other people care about, what society makes us desire:
Really high salary.
The latest gadgets – the new iPhone for instance.
Being famous on Instagram.
Admired by everyone.
I think these are the essential things that will make you look like a rock star in the eyes of others according to the latest research.3 Think about the above things for a moment. Do you really think that these things will make you really happy and satisfied? Where is the love? Where is the friendship in all of those things?
At the end of the day, people want to go home and have a decent conversation with their loved one. To shut their eyes and feel satisfaction knowing that they did something good for someone else. Money fame and fortune are not enough. If you look at the people who really make a difference, you will see that they’re not simply trying to make another million, they’re are doing work that is helping others.
If we put aside the desire for more money and more things we don’t really need, we’re left with only one important thing to pursue: helping others. There is nothing more sacred than that. All religions are based on this philosophy. You will be trully satisfied with yourself only when you do work that is focused towards making the world a better place.
Minimalism will help you in that direction. By removing everything else that is trying to consume your mind, waste your time and money, you will be left with a desire to help the world and the people living inside of it.
It’s up to you to decide what life you will live. You have the opportunity to do more of what you love and less of what you don’t. Minimalism will help you in that direction.
Once you understand that things won’t make you happy, you will focus your efforts towards experiences and work that will improve the world around in a good way.
There is salvation from the pointless desire for more. The better alternative to consumerism is creating. Create a better life for yourself and for the people around you. Minimalism is a way to find a light in this shattered world consumed by darkness. Simply reach out.
There is a very good Swedish word that best describes the idea of balanced living. This word is Lagom. Even though they have their differences, for me, lagom and minimalism are synonyms.
When you’re considering buying something new, you’re basically anticipating a reward, which in other hand creates a chemical inside your brain called dopamine. You know the friend dopamine? He makes you feel good.
Ok, it’s not according to the latest research but I’m sure you know what I mean. All of the above mentioned things are considered a “must have” if you want to be called successful in our current world.