Simplifying life and minimalism as a way of life seem to be growing trends in today’s stressed and materialistic world. It causes me to ask a question, “Is this all just a new cool thing to do or is there really something of personal value to be gained from these age old concepts”? After being my own guinea pig and putting the theory to the test over a number of years I can now say without a shadow of a doubt that simplifying life by eliminating unnecessary possessions and commitments as well as always being mindful of keeping life meaningful, has led me to understand that this is the only way to achieve true personal freedom and it is unbelievably fantastic.
“The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more,
but in developing the capacity to enjoy less”
– Socrates –
Why do you want to simplify your life? Do you want less clutter, more free time, do you want to work less and play more? Maybe you are seeking a greater purpose in your life and mental clarity. Well I believe all of these are great reasons to pursue a life of minimalism and adopt a tiny lifestyle.
My journey into minimalist living began around 6 years ago when I moved into a 38 sq/m apartment. Now to many of you reading this you may be thinking that this is a mansion in comparison to your tiny house but for us it was a massive downsize. We like most people throughout the developed world were living in a 150 sq/m house, so it was a massive downsize. At first it was hard to let go of all of the possessions but we persevered and eventually got down to the bare minimum and haven’t looked back since. If you are reading this and you are considering the idea of downsizing your life and living more simply, do yourself a favor and give it a try. What’ts the worst that could go wrong? If it doesn’t work you can always go back to how you are living now! I am sure you will soon agree though that there is no greater feeling than that of the freedom which comes from owning less material possessions, living in a small, tidy home and thereby having the time to do that which nourishes the soul.
After living in many small homes over the years and always remaining mindful of keeping life as simple as possible, I have learnt a thing or two about minimalist living. Here are my top 4 steps to get you well on your way to living a life of simplicity, purpose and becoming a few steps closer to that elusive idea called freedom.
1. Eliminate clutter – I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “A cluttered house, is a cluttered mind”. The secret with this first step is not to overwhelm yourself, so start really small. Choose the smallest room in your home and just set an intention to de-clutter this one room. A question which I find really helpful when deciding to keep an item or when shopping for new things is this; “Is this item useful in some way (Eg. a fridge, a kettle, a bed etc.) or does it improve the beauty and simplicity of my home (Eg. a beautiful piece of art)”?
2. Un-schedule – Take a good look at your typical week and write down everything that you do. Now for each item ask yourself, “If I stopped doing this, would it improve the quality of my life and my loved ones”? If the answer is yes then you need to do whatever you possibly can to get rid of it. Now I know some things like that terrible job you have can’t be eliminated immediately but just cut out whatever you possibly can.
The trouble we have these days is that being busy is actually praised and people strive to fit more into their days for fear of wasting time or not feeling important enough. By cramming more in to become ‘busy’, we tell ourselves that if our lives are so busy we must be important and our lives must matter. Well I believe we are all important beings and all of our lives matter but not because you are busy. We need to decide what is most important and get rid of as much of the mundane crap that leaves us feeling empty and stressed.
“Being busy is a form of laziness – lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.”
– Timothy Ferriss –
One of the biggest culprits of wasted time is T.V. Around 2 years ago now my wife and I made a conscious decision to live without a T.V for a while as a bit of an experiment to see what kind of impact it may have on our lives. So when we moved places we didn’t take our T.V and didn’t buy a new one. It has been such a simple experiment but the effects have been profound. We now spend a lot more quality time together of an evening which has been great for our relationship. Instead of watching T.V of an evening we cook, read, talk, meditate and sometimes watch a movie or documentary on our laptops. We can both honestly say that we are less stressed, more productive and our relationship is stronger than ever. What could you do with that hour of T.V time every night? It could be as simple as watching an inspiring documentary instead of the news or maybe planning your move into a tiny house.
3. Go tiny – Now that you have successfully eliminated clutter and un-scheduled a few unimportant items from your life its time to make the all important and rewarding move to living tiny. Downsizing your life and living tiny has so many benefits. Here’s just a few:
– A very small mortgage or no mortgage at all
– More free cash to enjoy yourself with
– More free time as you will no longer need to work as many hours
– Psychological and physical freedom
There are many ways to downsize your life and go tiny and no single one is the right way. Everyone is different and has different tastes and needs. It also doesn’t matter how small or big your new home really is. The point is to downsize even a little from your current living arrangements to free up some cash, time and mental space. There is no rule book that says you must live in a 30 sq/m tiny house. Just do what appeals to you. For some people that may stepping down from 250 sq/m to 150 sq/m. Whilst for another person it may be scaling down from a 50 sq/m apartment into a 30 sq/m tiny house.
4. Enjoy your new free time – Now that you have eliminated clutter, taken back control of your schedule and downsized into a smaller home you will have created some invaluable free time. Use this new found free time to do something that makes you truly happy and do it on a regular basis. This could be a long walk, dinner out somewhere with loved ones, reading a good book, writing, exercising or whatever hobby you may be in to. It really doesn’t matter what, just have fun! We as adults take life too seriously a lot of the time and forget to enjoy the moment. Look at kids playing and you will notice that they don’t have to consciously think about having fun, they just do.
Check out Graham Hill below in his great TED talk: “Less Stuff, More Happiness”.
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Article by Adam Simmonds. Get in contact with me via email: [email protected]