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Consumer Behavior

5 Reasons Why You Should Consider Becoming a Minimalist

A messy space makes for a messy mind. Here's how you can clear them both up.

Stephan Bredenkamp / Unsplash
Source: Stephan Bredenkamp / Unsplash

In a world that often glorifies abundance and consumption, a new trend has taken hold: minimalism. At first glance, it might seem like just a stylish way to declutter your home, but the roots of minimalism run much deeper.

From a psychological perspective, our physical homes are often analogous to our inner worlds—and when our physical space is in disarray, our mental space often is, too. Physical clutter can be a constant reminder of disorganization, and it can spill over into our minds more easily than we might consciously be aware of.

If you think the minimalist lifestyle is nothing but a fad, consider a psychologist’s take on its benefits and how quickly they can be reaped. You might just change your mind.

The Link Between Minimalism and Well-Being

Minimalism has emerged as a lifestyle choice characterized by low consumption, voluntary simplicity, and an intentional reduction in material possessions. People who embrace this lifestyle tend to shun excessive acquisition and opt for behaviors like thrifting and pro-ecological practices, all while seeking to live more meaningfully.

Research from the Journal of Applied Positive Psychology aimed to explore the impact of minimalism on happiness, life satisfaction and interpersonal relationships. Rather than accumulating items for their perceived value or status, minimalists rather focus on what brings them joy and utility.

Moreover, minimalists often swear by the fact that having fewer possessions brings a greater sense of freedom and fulfillment. In the authors’ attempts to assess the validity of these claims, the following key themes were identified—effectively illustrating how minimalism contributes to enhanced well-being:

  1. Autonomy. This theme encapsulates the feeling of freedom and liberation that comes with choosing a minimalist lifestyle. Participants in the study described how they previously felt “trapped” or “burdened” by their possessions and societal expectations. Through minimalism, they gained autonomy, and were able to align their lives with their personal values and feel more authentic. Minimalism provided an escape from the monotonous cycle of consumerism, allowing them to pursue a life that felt true.
  2. Competence. By reducing clutter and simplifying their environments, many participants reported gaining a greater sense of control and order. Before embracing minimalism, they often felt overwhelmed by “chaos” and “confusion.” With fewer possessions, however, they experienced reduced anxiety and stress. Through minimalism, they found it easier to manage their surroundings and, consequently, their lives.
  3. Mental space. Participants described minimalism as creating “mental space,” resulting in a clearer, more focused mind. This connection between external and internal order allowed them to save mental energy, helping them enjoy an enduring sense of lightness and clarity. The absence of physical clutter led to less internal chaos, thus supporting the idea that our surroundings can directly impact our mental state.
  4. Awareness. Minimalism also heightened participants’ awareness of their values and what truly mattered in life. The newly created mental space facilitated reflection, mindfulness, and savoring. By reducing distractions, they could focus on their own growth and learn from new insights—ultimately allowing for a deeper appreciation for the world around them.
  5. Positive emotions. The combination of autonomy, competence, mental space, and awareness led to an increase in positive emotions among the study participants. They reported feelings of joy, peacefulness, and a general sense of well-being. The shift to a minimalist lifestyle appeared to serve as a catalyst for these emotions, as it enabled them to break free from the stress and anxiety that often accompanies a consumer-driven society.

Minimalism doesn’t just represent a shift in lifestyle. In reality, it can offer much more than just physical organization to those who commit to it—a transformative journey towards greater well-being and more meaningful, contented living.

How to Make the Switch to a Minimalist Lifestyle

There’s no denying that society is driven by consumerism, excessive consumption, and materialism. It can seem impossible to break free of these principles. Knowing that it takes convincing and support to do so, minimalist communities have developed over time—creating spaces and bodies of knowledge that support and empower individuals hoping to make the switch.

If you’re hoping to shift towards minimalism, consider the “deliberation station” posed by a minimalist and simplification coach. Before you make your next purchase, ask yourself the following questions about the desired item:

  1. Have you thought about it for at least two weeks?
  2. Does it solve a genuine problem that you have noticed?
  3. Do you already own something similar?
  4. Is buying it worth giving up progress towards your next financial goal?
  5. Would you still use the purchase five years from now?
  6. Do you know if or where you can place it in your home?
  7. Can you be productive and happy without it?
  8. Is it a high-quality item with a reasonable price tag?
  9. Is your mental state calm and neutral right now, or altered by internal/external forces?
  10. Would the purchase be driven by intention or impulsivity?

If you lean towards negative answers more so than positive ones, consider it a sign that the purchase won’t serve you or your space. Continue this habit, and you’ll be on your way to minimalist living through your efforts in curating a simplistic and intentional space.

Minimalism is about stripping away the unnecessary, leaving only the things that truly matter. When we declutter our spaces and consume with conscientiousness, we simultaneously clear out the emotional and mental clutter that has been weighing us down. With fewer distractions, we are better able to focus on what really matters and make room—both physically and mentally—for a mindful and fulfilling existence.


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