Before we get into the benefits of minimalism, I have a question for you…
Do you have “stuff-itis”, the constant desire to buy things and fill your home with material possessions?
If so, can you honestly say that all of the things you buy make you happy?
If you had to take a moment to think about the answer, it’s possible that accumulating material possessions isn’t really bringing you any happiness.
For many, the constant hustle to earn more money to buy bigger, better, or fancier things is a major source of stress.
Instead of making them happy, constantly striving to keep up with the Joneses is actually making them miserable.
The Greek stoic philosopher Epictetus once said:
“Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.”
That’s the real source of happiness in life – learning to be content with what you have.
There are several benefits of minimalism to consider, and many are embracing the minimalist lifestyle as a way to simplify, live better, and reduce stress.
What Is a Minimalist Lifestyle?
To understand what a minimalist lifestyle is, it’s important to understand what it is not.
First, minimalism doesn’t mean you have to live in a dump – you can still have a nice home. It means living in a home that meets your needs instead of buying more house than you can afford.
Being a minimalist also doesn’t mean you have to give up your vehicle and walk everywhere you go. You can still have a vehicle. Instead of owning a fancy car with an expensive monthly payment, however, you drive something that is both practical and affordable.
Yes, minimalism does mean practicing a lifestyle where you – for the most part – only buy the things you need, but it’s more than that.
Minimalism is also about giving up the status symbols that so many crave.
It’s about being content with owning something that gets the job done instead of desiring things that are fancy and expensive.
Being a minimalist also doesn’t mean you can’t buy something nice on occasion. You don’t have to live like a monk. If it’s in your budget, it’s okay to splurge every now and then. The key is to not make it a habit.Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants. - Epictetus #minimalism #quotestoliveby Click To Tweet
Does Minimalism Make You Happy?
Although there are many factors that go into happiness, being content with the things you own and not constantly craving things that are bigger and better can help to increase happiness.
If you buy more home than you need, for example, and you suddenly lose your job when the economy goes south (as it occasionally does), this can result in a great deal of stress. On the other hand, if you own a simple home that you can quickly pay off, your stress will be much lower if the economy takes a nosedive.
Learning how to live on the cheap isn’t complicated. Anyone can do it. It starts with a simple mindset shift.
There are other factors that can contribute to increased happiness with a minimalist lifestyle. Let’s take a look at 10 of them:
10 Benefits of Minimalism to Improve Your Life
1. More Freedom
One of the most important benefits of minimalism is it will give you a great deal of freedom in life.
If you don’t need to earn much money to maintain your lifestyle, for example, you could move to a location that makes you happier.
Instead of living in a big city and dealing with the traffic and other headaches that come with city living, you could move to a place with a lot of outdoor recreation opportunities (hiking, camping, boating, etc.).
Having more time could also allow you to strike out on your own with a business venture you’ve always wanted to pursue.
Many people hate their jobs, and being in business for yourself could allow you to do work that is personally fulfilling.
2. More Time
Why do we work? To buy the things in life that we “need”.
A great benefit of minimalism is if you own less stuff, you may be able to work less and have more free time.
If you live in a modest home that you can pay for in a relatively short period of time, for example, you won’t have to earn as much money to maintain your lifestyle.
If you don’t have to earn a lot of money to buy the things you “need”, it is possible to work fewer hours so you can enjoy life more.
You could spend more time on a hobby you enjoy just more time relaxing.
3. Grow Your Savings
The less stuff you buy, the more money you will have.
Another great benefit of minimalism is you can keep more of the hard-earned money you make. You can then build an emergency fund or start investing to save for retirement.
Earning more money isn’t just about increasing your net worth. It can also enable you to do a lot of good in your life.
Perhaps there’s a charity you would like to donate to, or you know someone who is going through a rough time financially that you would like to help.
Great personal satisfaction can come from helping others who are less fortunate.
4. Better Health
Having less stress in life is another great benefit of a minimalist lifestyle.
Working long hours at a job you don’t enjoy can be very stressful. It may even shorten your life.
If you are content with what you have and you aren’t always desiring the latest and greatest stuff, you may be able to work less or work a job that pays less but you enjoy doing more.
Stress can lead to heart disease, early ageing, mental health issues, a weakened immune system, weight gain, and many other things. Reducing stress isn’t just about being happier, it can also improve your health!
5. Better Relationships
A funny thing happens when you stop worrying about trying to impress people with your material possessions. Your relationships with friends and family can actually grow stronger.
People who try to impress others by owning a lot of stuff are often concerned with fitting in with certain groups of people. People who aren’t pretentious, on the other hand, aren’t concerned with social status. Because of this, they may have a larger circle of friends than those who are trying to “fit in.”
It’s also possible that your relationships with those you love may improve, too. Instead of working long hours to earn as much money as possible, you may have more time to spend with your family.
6. Do Work You Love
We’ve briefly touched on this already, but it’s worth exploring further.
It’s truly surprising how many people work long hours in jobs they hate just to buy things they don’t need to impress people who really don’t care. It’s like watching the sad spectacle of a hamster running furiously in a wheel. The hamster never gets anywhere and becomes totally exhausted in the process.
If you stop caring about what others think and adopt a minimalist lifestyle, you may be able to get off of life’s hamster wheel and do something else. Money isn’t everything. Working a job you truly enjoy that gives you a sense of purpose is worth far more than a job you hate with a high salary.Many people work long hours in jobs they hate just to buy things they don’t need. This is why minimalism can have so many powerful benefits. #minimalistliving #minimalism Click To Tweet
7. Better for the Environment
One of the most obvious benefits of practicing minimalism is that it’s better for the environment.
Most of the stuff you own is eventually going to wear out and end up in a landfill somewhere. And just think of all of the packaging that comes with new purchases.
The less you own, the less you are contributing to harming the environment.
Many minimalists shop “used” as much as possible. While you can save big on buying used products instead of always buying things new, you are also helping the environment by creating a second life for people’s unwanted items. This helps to keep these things out of landfills.
Yet another way that being a minimalist helps the environment is when you live in a small home instead of a mansion. Heating and cooling large homes requires a lot of energy – and that energy is often produced by the burning of fossil fuels.
8. More Self-Confidence
When you become a minimalist, you no longer tie your self-worth to how much stuff you own or how much money you make. Your self-esteem is derived from real things that matter – friends and family, hobbies, accomplishments.
A boost in your self-confidence can lead to other things in life, which can further influence your self-confidence. It’s like a virtuous cycle that continues to perpetuate itself.
Example: With an increase in self-confidence you might set a goal to try something new, like hiking the Appalachian Trail or losing weight to improve your health.
After accomplishing your goal, it will further boost your self-confidence and possibly lead to you setting and accomplishing new goals.
9. Less Home to Clean and Maintain
Owning fewer things may mean less work. Some things require a lot of work to maintain. If you own a large home, for example, you may have to spend your days off from work cleaning, mowing, and doing other household chores.
Owning a small home isn’t just about saving money on the purchase price and property taxes. It’s also about saving time on cleaning and maintenance. This allows you to spend more time doing the things you really enjoy.
It allows you to have a life instead of working every day of your life on something.
10. Peace of Mind
Lastly, another great benefit of minimalism is it can give you peace of mind.
Not having to worry about what people think about you and your stuff can be very liberating.
Not having to constantly worry about earning enough to make the next payment on your mansion can lower your stress, improve your health, and help you sleep better.
When you learn to be content with what you have instead of always craving something new, it’s like being set free from a mental prison.
You are no longer bound by the shackles of consumerism.
You can spend your time and energy pursuing the things in life that really matter – like nurturing your relationships.
Benefits of Minimalism – Final Thoughts
When many think of minimalism, they often have the wrong idea.
They imagine people living in poverty and not having the things in life they need – like food, clothing, shelter, and other things.
But that’s not what minimalism is about at all. As a minimalist, you can still buy all of the necessities of life. You can even buy some nice things if you want.
The idea is to not get caught up in the trappings of excessive buying – of avoiding the accumulation of material possessions as a source of happiness or to impress others.
Epictetus may have lived nearly 2,000 years ago, but his words about being content with what you have still ring true today.
Owning more stuff doesn’t always lead to happiness. There are many very wealthy people, in fact, who are downright miserable.
Cyrus Vanover is a professional financial writer who has written for companies of all sizes. He is also the author of the personal finance book, “Earn A Debt-Free College Degree.” His goal is to help families save money, make more money, and achieve financial independence. Based in the mountains of Virginia, he enjoys hiking the local trails, listening to 80s music, and reading books on military history in his spare time.
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