There’s a misconception that those who practice minimalist living are giving up something. It’s really just the opposite. When you choose a minimalist lifestyle, you get rid of unimportant things so that you have more time and energy to devote to what really matters to you.
In other words, minimalist living is about getting rid of distractions instead of giving up possessions.
For some of us, having too many things we don’t need is a distraction that takes our attention away from important things. For others, converting to a simple, minimal lifestyle means we need to stop running around so much, attending so many functions we don’t enjoy and trying to keep up with the out-of-control lifestyles of our friends or coworkers.
Those who promote living a 100 Things Challenge — living with fewer than a hundred possessions — are placing a lot of focus on only one aspect of the simple life, and that just isn’t right. It certainly isn’t complete.
Collect Experiences, Not Stuff
Many of us were programmed by our parents or by society in general to get as many possessions as possible to prove how successful we are. But true success come from finding contentment in experiences and not in possessions.
We don’t need different clothing for every season, a shiny new car or an iPhone to be content.
We also find that some of the information we’ve been given about life isn’t quite true. We’re told that successful people have a home of their own, but having a home ties us to long mortgages and living in one place. And it comes with the responsibility of making repairs and keeping the yard manicured.
Living a life free from excess possessions means having more time and energy to devote to collecting meaningful experiences. For some, that means living out of a backpack and traveling the world. For others, it means living in a cheap apartment and spending money on opera tickets or a health club membership.
When you collect experiences instead of stuff, you benefit from them as long as your brain continues to work, not just until the thing you bought breaks.
Strive For Happiness, Not Wealth
Contentment isn’t enough for most who seek a minimalist lifestyle, however. It’s happiness we’re after, and minimalism is the only way to find it for those of us who feel our lives are completely out of control.
Throwing away useless things creates happiness for many minimalists. Making do with the t-shirts they already have instead of buying a dozen new polo shirts generates happiness too. Eating in and not eating out can create satisfaction that leads to greater happiness as well.
Benefiting from carefully chosen experiences instead of running around without any real purpose in life generates true happiness.
Rarely are happiness and wealth linked.
Minimalist living is about finding happiness by reducing stuff, processes and relationships in your life until you reach the smallest possible collection that serves you well.
When you find true happiness, you’ve found the best, grandest version of life. A streamlined life without a lot of excess is much more likely to supply that kind of happiness than one that’s wasteful and out of control.
Fortunately, minimalist living is a journey and not a destination. That means you can take small steps today — like decluttering a drawer or blowing off an unnecessary event — and get a little closer to the contentment and happiness you deserve.