A lot of people think being a minimalist is akin to being a monk—living a sort of ascetic lifestyle in which you deprive yourself of “wordly” things simply for the sake of it.
Others regard minimalists with polite curiosity (why ever would you WANT to have an empty house?), or write us off as a bit quirky (since when is it quirky to count how many socks you have? ;-) ).
What gets lost in most considerations of minimalism is the true joy that can be found in the lifestyle. I think that’s the number one reason most of us adopt it: to make ourselves happy.
To this end, I’ve decided to wax philosophical today on the top ten benefits of being a minimalist.
1. Less stuff = less stress. The fewer possessions you have, the less you need to worry about maintaining, repairing, insuring, protecting, and paying for them.
2. Less stuff = more freedom. Possessions are like anchors, tethering us to our houses (to store them), and our jobs (to pay for them). When you don’t have a houseful of stuff, you’re much more mobile and able to take advantage of opportunities as they arise.
3. Less stuff = more time. It takes time to plan for, research, and acquire a purchase (from driving around to stores, to surfing the web for consumer reviews). And it takes time to clean, maintain, and keep stuff in order once you own it. The less stuff you buy, the more time you have for other (more pleasurable) pursuits.
4. Less stuff = more money. The less you buy, the more you save. And who wouldn’t be happier with a little more money in their bank account?
5. Less stuff = less pressure to keep up with the Joneses. When people know you’re a minimalist, they don’t expect you to have the latest and greatest toys and status symbols. In fact, they don’t expect you to have anything at all. (Actually, I’d love to see the Joneses become minimalist, and the competitive non-consumption that results.) :-)
6. Less stuff = less to clean. I prefer not to spend my weekends dusting around tchotchkes, and corralling wayward items into drawers, bins, and closets (and I suspect I’m not the only one!) What’s more: when you’re a minimalist, your house is more likely to look halfway decent when someone drops by unexpectedly.
7. Less stuff = more opportunity to be creative and resourceful. I love the challenge of meeting a need, or completing a task, without purchasing something “extra.”
8. Less stuff = a greener planet. The fewer things you buy, the better for the environment. Rampant consumption is a terrible waste of the Earth’s natural resources.
9. Less stuff for me = more for others. The resources of our planet are finite. When we over-consume, we take more than our fair share—leaving less for others, and future generations. A minimalist lifestyle helps restore the balance.
10. Less stuff = more joy. The fewer possessions you have to fuss over, the more time you have for friends, family, flowers, sunsets, and the beautiful things in life. And that—more than any consumer item—is the source of true happiness.