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The Psychology Behind Minimalism

Updated: Apr 25, 2020

Minimalism. What is it? Minimalism is an incredibly strange thing to consider when someone is used to living while being surrounded by so many things. When you hear someone talk about minimalism, they often describe it as a "lifestyle" or "way of living". But the concept is so far out of what you grasp in your current lifestyle, that your mind automatically thinks it means living in an empty house or never having things you may need. But in reality, this isn't what minimalism is at all!

To completely understand minimalism, we should probably define it...

"Minimalism is all about living with less. This includes less financial burdens such as debt and unnecessary expenses. ... For many minimalists, the philosophy is about getting rid of excess stuff and living life based on experiences rather than worldly possessions."

-Christopher Murray, Money Under 30

In other words, minimalism is a way to widdle down the amount of things that burden you (material items, debt, time requirements, etc.) to focus on more important things, reap the benefits of a cleaner environment and mind, and achieve goals pertaining to the amount of belongings you own without adhering to a strict code or rulebook! Whether you want to travel the world or feel less claustrophobic in your home and daily duties, utilizing a minimalist lifestyle is the perfect way to get there.

So why is your home the perfect place to begin your minimalism journey? For starters, your home holds nearly all of the possessions you own! There've been numerous studies published about how clearing your home of clutter can make a huge impact on your headspace and ability to focus.

Think about when you walk into a hotel room for instance. When you step into a crisp, clean room containing nothing but the essentials, it has a certain feel to it. It doesn't feel empty or like it's waiting to be filled, but rather like a breath of fresh air - luxurious, even. Dead space in a home has the same effect as that near-empty hotel room. It's as if your spacious getaway followed you home. The key is to keep only essentials and objects that give that hotel room a touch of comfort only a space filled with the things you whole-heartedly love can give. But how do you know what items can give you your beautiful hotel at home?

Go Room by Room

I'm sure you won't be surprised when I say this is a HUGE project! By deciding to decrease the amount of belongings you own, you've added at least 20 new items to your to-do list. It can feel like you've bitten off more than you can chew! They key to making this enormous-feeling project feel a bit more doable is to break it up into bite-sized chunks.

Going roomy room allows you to do just this. Where is the space you spend the most time in? With everything going on right now, maybe your office? Your kids' play room? Your living or bedroom? Wherever this key place is for you, start there. If we've learned anything from Dave Ramsey and his snowball method, it's that progress that we can directly see results from makes us feel more productive and able to tackle even more. By starting in the room you spend the most time in, you'll be able to regularly see the difference and the mental impact it has. This will motivate you to move on to your next most-used space, then the next, and so on. So once you've decided on your room and you're looking through all of the many things you forgot you owned, here's how to determine what stays and goes...

Ask Yourself Important Questions

Asking yourself questions about usage, habits, and sentimental nature can help widdle down these items and help you feel more comfortable about getting rid of things you wouldn't have previously felt comfortable purging.

Ask yourself these questions while purging:

  • Do I really LOVE everything I see?

  • “If you’re not using the stuff in your home, get rid of it. You’re not going to start using it more by shoving it 
in a closet somewhere.”

  • If I saw this in a store today, would I buy it?

  • "Does it spark joy?"

  • Can I live without it?

  • What's the worst that could happen if I let this go?

  • Could someone else use this more than me?

  • When was the last time I wore/used this?

The Sentimental Objects

Where people tend to get stuck, is on items that have a kind of value that isn't defined by a price tag. Set aside things you aren't sure about or have a sentimental attachment to for the end, when it's easier to decipher yes's and no's for the not as important things to later revisit just how important these other things are. It may make decisions easier than you think. Marie Kondo knows what she's doing after all!

Best-selling author Joshua Becker really put things into perspective when he wrote, “Picture your dream home. I bet it’s not filled with clutter.” And that's exactly what excess things are.. clutter! This is something that's important to keep in the back of your mind when you're sorting through this specific collection of items that have your heart. Don't clutter your dream home because you can't get rid of things.

This doesn't mean get rid of everything, though. You're allowed to hold on to memories and irreplaceable items you'll always hold close. Just don't sacrifice your space to hold on to things you hate looking at or are tired of finding a place for. Make your home a space to relax and express YOU! So keep the items that help you reach that goal.

Donate + Sell Before Trashing

A great way to incentivize getting rid of things you a.) don't like looking at or b.)

don't have space for, is to alter how you think about it. You aren't losing or getting rid of something. By donating or selling these items, someone else is gaining something they value! Even if you may not find any value in this specific item, someone out there does and would actually pay for it!

Some people are a bit more motivated by money, so to those people I say, "sell away!" It's better to use that sort of motivation by asking yourself, "would I prefer this object or the money it's worth?" It can quickly simplify the objects you value most from the ones you couldn't imagine putting a dollar sign on.

Other people are content knowing that an object will be going to a new home where it's more wanted by donating it. It's okay to be motivated by factors other than this, but for many, this is enough incentive to get rid of half the things in their home. To those individuals, we say thank you, Mother Theresa.

New Items

Congratulations! You've cleaned out your entire home and created the perfect space. Now when you start to fill your home again, save for the quality and style of items you actually want to surround yourself with. Why waste money on items you dislike and will be more compelled to replace sooner? Find out more about simplifying your space in this article HERE.

I'll leave you with a couple quotes:

“Inexpensive is not a good reason to buy something 
and expensive is not a good reason to keep something.” 


“A home with fewer possessions is more spacious, more calming, and more focused on the people who live inside it.”

I hope you
 enjoy your now hotel room filled with the items you adore most. Bask in the beauty of empty space and have a safe week!

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