I’m not comfortable with the minimalist label but I am drawn to the idea of living more with less. I like to call myself a simple living enthusiast.
What’s the best way for a “non-minimalist” to begin the journey towards a simpler life?
I recently asked this question to some of my favorite bloggers who are minimalists and/or simple living experts.
Some suggest starting with the physical world whilst others feel that the process begins with a change in mind-set.
Their response to my question has provided me with invaluable insight as well as practical tips for my journey in simple living.
I hope it will do the same for you.
Joshua Becker… Becoming Minimalist
The most important first step is to find a quiet moment and ask yourself this question, “How would my life improve if I owned less stuff?” We never ask ourselves that question. Instead, we constantly think our life will get better if we just owned more… or better… or newer… or trendier… because that’s what society has told us since the day we were born. But when you sit down and ask yourself the other question – probably for the first time – you’ll be surprised how quickly the answers come. And when they do, you’ll find conviction to pursue a new and better path.
Courtney Carver… Be More With Less
The best way for a “non minimalist” to begin the journey towards a simpler life is to remove the labels and comparisons.
What you call it (simplicity or minimalism) is much less important than what you do with it. Your version of simplicity will look different than someone with a different approach or living situation. Once you give yourself permission to make this YOUR journey, you can take advice and move forward without fear or judgement.
Lorilee Lippincott… Loving Simple Living
I believe the best way for a ‘non-minimalist’ to begin a journey toward a simpler life is to dream and read about it. When people talk about minimalism they often first think of things… and getting rid of things, but that isn’t what makes a simple life.What makes a simple life is change in the mind.
Once the mind decides it wants less and simple, it becomes (almost) second nature to purchase less and get rid of excess. Grab a cup of tea and dream about what you want your life to be. Read about it. Then simplify as you see areas in your life that don’t line up with these new ideals.
Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus… The Minimalists
Weather someone starts with all of their material possessions or just one room, they should carefully consider what’s truly adding value to their life.
Colin Wright… Exile Lifestyle
Take a step back and figure out what’s important to you. Not what you think is supposed to be important to you, but what’s really, REALLY important. The stuff that makes you happier than anything else. Then, start removing the stuff that doesn’t help you get/do more of that.
Markus Almond… Brooklyn To Mars
Anything that doesn’t have sentimental value and hasn’t been used in the past year should be discarded. Whether it’s donated, recycled or thrown away, getting rid of things that don’t hold value is a great place to start.
Jill Gaupin… The Minimalistas
The best way to begin this liberating journey is to spend some time thinking about the changes you want to make to streamline, to simplify, your lifestyle. Make a vision board. Journal your thoughts. Explore your feelings behind why you want to make a change. Connect with others who embrace simple living. And then start taking action.
Tammy Strobel… Rowdy Kittens
There are many small steps you can take today to start living more simply. First, clear off one surface in your home. For example, a reader recently sent me a photo of her uncluttered desk. She spent the evening organizing stacks of papers, mail, and other random belongings that were cluttering the surface of her work space. Now that it’s organized she’s able to sit down to pay her bills and she feels happier. Taking that one small step made her life feel a whole lot simpler.
Second, ditch the television (or watch a whole lot less). Television is a huge time suck and by watching less, you’ll have more time to do the stuff you love, like taking a long walk in the evening or reading a good book. And last but not least, let go of excess stuff. Start by giving away ten belongings each week to friends or to a charity of your choice.
Mohamed Tohami… Midway Simplicity
I would recommend that you start with a small experiment.
There is a very interesting experiment that I’ve done called The One Week Closet Experiment. I learned about the idea from Dave Bruno’s book The 100 Thing Challenge.
Here’s how to do this experiment:
Open your closet and pick up enough clothes for one week.
Store these one week clothes in a separate section in your closet.
Over the next month or two, only wear from the items in this section.
Evaluate the result.
I promise you’ll be hugely surprised!
Rachel Boreing… Intentionally Simple
When you’re beginning to simplify your life, a good place to start is your schedule. Stop over committing and learn that it’s okay to say no to some things. Once you have breathing room in your schedule, life suddenly seems a little simpler.
Vappu Aneri… The Cat’s Meow
I think it’s a change in mindset that is needed first. One should really think about their life, priorities, and values, and then have that vision in mind always.
Sometimes it works well to start out with the physical realm, de-cluttering one’s possessions, perhaps right-sizing the living conditions, and then the mental change follows.
Anyway, all of the de-cluttering in the world is of no use (and can be harmful if you re-purchase and re-clutter again) if there is no shift at a deeper level.
Joel Zaslofsky… Value of Simple
Some of my best friends are not minimalists, but have lives of simplicity that most people would be envious of. For instance, I have a friend who immerses herself (quite literally) in a float tank and teleports her mind to another place. She achieves a state of raw simplicity unlike anything else I’ve ever seen or heard. But spending money to get into a sensory deprivation tank isn’t the only way non-minimalists can achieve simplicity.
Another friend practices gratitude throughout the day and the calming effect creates this radiating wave of simplifying. Practically speaking, I think the easiest way for non-minimalists to achieve simplicity is reading blogs, articles, or stories about the topic. Letters from a Stoic by Seneca comes to mind as each person can pick out the ways they want to incorporate simplifying into their lives without the disruptive effects that minimalism can have.
Patrick Rhone… Minimal Mac
It may seem simple but…
Make sure to ask “Why?”
I think so many of us begin a journey to a particular destination (in this case, simplicity) without really asking this simple question. What is it about your current lifestyle that is not working for you? What it is that is causing friction? Why would simplicity and/or minimalism help?
How often do we find ourselves far down a path, a choice, a decision, without knowing why? How often do we find ourselves with a new shiny device, and new piece of software, a new way of working, without knowing why? I would argue that for most it is far too often.
In fact, I believe that, if we stopped to consider this question more often, and faced it with introspection and honesty, it would lead naturally to a life lived with purpose. Which, to me, is the whole point.
Brooke McAlary… Slow Your Home
In a word: Small.
Small is absolutely the best way to begin the journey towards a simpler life.
We are taught that we need to go big, go hardcore, go for it all, and that’s all well and good. But when you’re just beginning a journey like this – one that is life-long – to try and tackle everything right away is the best way to fail.
Instead of de-cluttering the entire garage, start with the kitchen drawers. Instead of the toy room, just clear out the car. Instead of your wardrobe, start with your handbag.
You are more likely to get these small tasks done in one sitting, rather than become overwhelmed with the bigger tasks and give up altogether. Once you have some victories, you will be far more likely to succeed when you do tackle the bigger jobs.
Rachel Jonat… The Minimalist Mom
Take note of what truly makes you happy. Write it down. Bring more of it into your life. That could be down time or hobby time or sleep or a long distance conversation with an old friend. When you focus on the stuff that really gives back to you, and that you can give yourself to, it becomes clear what stuff you can let go of in your life. A new food processor or sweater or the skis you’ve been hanging onto for seven years thinking you’ll start again, they seem much less important and valuable and they’re easier to let go of.
Nina Nelson… Shalom Mama
If you want to begin the journey towards a simpler life, but don’t want to be a full-fledged minimalist, don’t worry. Take note of the things that are causing clutter in your life. Are you over-committed to activities outside your home? Does your house feel like it’s stuffed to the brim? Do you just do too much laundry? Identify what needs to be simplified and write down what steps you can take to simplify them, like saying no to a committment (or four) or decluttering your house (be it one room or drawer at a time). Realize that it won’t happen overnight, but that’s ok. Just take action. Every. Day.
Thank You All for Your Awesome Contributions!
You inspire us to step out of the fast lane, SLOW DOWN and begin a life, uncomplicated.
I guess the “best way” to begin a simpler life is not defined by what you do, but by the fact that you choose to do, on purpose. And you guys have given us a ton of ideas to get started. Thank you!
Now it’s our turn to take action.
What will you DO to simplify your life? Share your goals in the comments below.
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