I’ve been intrigued with the idea of minimalism for several years now. Zen Habits, my favorite blog and the inspiration for this blog, introduced me to the concept. The site itself has always been very clean. It doesn’t have colors, ads, pictures or videos. It just has reading material, and extremely inspiring, practical and positive reading material at that. Leo, the blog’s author, found out many years ago that simplifying his life lead to greater happiness.
I never forgot the insightful things I read in those early days of following Zen Habits. I had recently moved out on my own and had not yet bought too many things. Over the past 5 years of living on my own, I’ve managed to acquire very few things, and I believe I’m a happier person for having not done so. As I wrote about early last year, I manage to keep my apartment very clean, organized and clutter free. It’s easy to do because of my lack of stuff. I like it this way.
But minimalism isn’t just about owning few things, it’s really an entire way of life. It all boils down to learning to be content with what you have. It’s about realizing that stuff and things aren’t the key to happiness. Outside of actual things, minimalism also has to do with simplifying your life and what you think about, put your energy towards and what you spend your time on.
Personally, I have experienced less stress, less anxiety and more peace by simplifying my life. I’m far from living a minimalistic life, but at a minimum, I believe that it’s a direction I want to go.
Here’s how my minimalistic thinking has had an effect on my life. I buy very little and therefore, don’t spend much money on buying things. I have very little and therefore, I live in a clean, clutter free environment. And, I have very little at work and therefore, I work in a very clean and clutter free workspace.
I believe not only is having less stuff good for you at home, but I think it’s good for you at work too. I used to use post-it notes a lot. But after a while, I had them sticking everywhere. That’s a bad way to stay organized and be productive at work, believe me. I now use a notebook and a filing system. As a result, my office is kept very minimal and I love it that way. I don’t get stressed the second I get to work. I make sure that everything is picked up and that there are no papers laying out when I leave every day, so when I get there in the morning, it’s a peaceful experience.
On the home front, I pick up everything before I leave for work each day and when I get home from work, it’s a peaceful experience. I do the same before I go to bed each night so that when I wake up each morning, my morning is a peaceful and enjoyable experience. Who wants to wake up to a heaping mess. Not me. Who wants to go to work to a catastrophe? Not me. Having less, accumulating less and keeping on top of keeping things picked up and cleared out can go a long way in maintaining peace of mind.
The big question with the minimalist way of life is, how does it affect your finances? I think it’s pretty obvious that it would be a positive for the money situation.
Less stuff and less need for stuff = Having to go buy less stuff and having to fix less stuff = Greater happiness
The two are related in my experience. I believe a lot of my financial progress over the past few years can be attributed to my minimalistic thinking as opposed to the way I used to think. I used to strive for my next big purchase. A minimalist would think, “I’m good. I don’t need more stuff“. And that’s exactly how I’m thinking more and more these days. After all, if I have less need for things and therefore less need to spend money, I’m going to be able to save a lot more of my income and require less income to live on each month, meaning reaching financial independence a lot earlier in life.
And because you need to hear all about this from the people who inspired me in the first place, I’m going to ask that you do some clicking over to their sites. There’s no money in it for me if you do, but I really believe that you should. This stuff changed my mindset and no doubt made me think deeper about what really matters in life (and it’s not stuff):
- Zen Habits – My all time favorite
- Mnmlist – A sister site of Zen Habits
- Becoming Minimalist – Another outstanding site
- The Minimalists - A good one as well
If these guys don’t inspire you to rethink your love of stuff and the life that it brings you, I don’t know what will. Read some articles over at those sites and let’s discuss. Feel free to post your favorites below.