Minimalism and happiness: how can we improve our lives with less?

Do you regularly feel tension, stress, pressure or overwhelm? Then you might be a Wandering Mind, like us. We are sensitive and get overstimulated quickly. Therefore, most of us are looking for ways to find more inner peace, calm and happiness. Minimalism, or simple living, might be part of the answer. How can minimalism and simple living contribute to our happiness and wellbeing? In this article, we share 5 tips to start living like a minimalist. Because minimalism changed our lives! Since we apply the principles of minimalism, we have more time, more inner peace and much less to worry about.

Why do we long for minimalism and simple living?

The past decades have been centered around economic growth and materialism. Most of us felt the pressure of earning more, working harder and buying things all the time. For some, this is about getting a mortgage to buy a beautiful house. Others feel the need to be fashionable, and therefore buy new clothes each year. Or we feel our car needs to be at least as good as the car of the neighbor. But more and more people realize that this continuous need to buy more, and owning things, doesn't make us happy. The tide is turning…

Minimalism might be for you, if you want:

  • Less clutter
  • Fewer stimuli and distractions
  • Less chaos
  • More freedom
  • Less obligations
  • More quality time with the people you love
  • Peace of mind
  • Quality instead of quantity
  • More experiences
  • To enhance your creativity

What is minimalist living?

Minimalism started gaining popularity after the publication of The Minimalists on Netflix, a documentary by Joshua and Ryan, who call themselves The Minimalists. It's all about less is more, and it stimulates simplicity, utility and elegance.

Downside of minimalism

But in spite of the popularity, the term minimalism can still have a somewhat negative connotation. Some think that they might have to live in a bare house and can never allow themselves to go shopping again. They might feel like having to make sacrifices, when embracing the minimalist lifestyle. Giving up all modern conveniences of the world, to go live in a cabin in the woods, without electricity.

Minimalism is not about having less, but about making space for more

But minimalism or living simple is not about having less, but about making space for more: more freedom, more time, more joy, more experiences and more creativity. When we live a minimalistic lifestyle, we only buy and own what we really need and/or what makes us happy. Or, as decluttering guru Marie Kondo would say, only own what sparks joy.

Most of us own so much stuff, that we don't even know everything we have anymore. It's put away in cupboards or under our bed, and we don't even look at it. Decluttering, and throwing away the things we don't use, creates so much space. Not only in our house, but also in our minds.

Minimalist book tip: Spark joy!

If you want to start minimizing, and it's important for you to create a home full of joy, we can highly recommend this book. Decluttering guru Marie Kondo (the star of the Netflix series about minimalism), has revolutionized homes, and shares her tips in Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up.

This book offers a step-by-step guide on how to tidy up your home and make it a joyful, calm and organized place to be. Marie Kondo also answers questions like “where do I keep necessities, that don't bring joy”. She even explains how we can build our own personal “power spot” in our home.

Buy this book and start creating more joy!

Minimalist living is mostly about an adjustment in our way of thinking, so that we can live more purposefully and calmly. You may have seen the Netflix documentary ‘The Minimalists' (if not, do it!). Joshua Becker's quote from The Minimalists describes minimalism:

“At its core, minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from.” – Joshua Becker, blogger achter Becoming Minimalist

Minimalistic living means that we value ourselves more than we value material things. We value your time more than your stuff. Decisions are made based on what we need and what makes us happy.

minimalism and simple living

Minimalism and simple living improves our happiness

We can see minimalism and simple living as a state of mind. It's not a set of rules. When we understand and apply minimalism, we have more of what we need, enjoy everything we have, and don't worry about what we don't have. This will make our lives a lot less stressful. It gives us satisfaction. But what are other advantages of minimalist living?

  • It gives us space (literally and figuratively; space in the house and space in our heads).
  • We learn to let go of things that no longer serve us.
  • Buying less stuff means having more money. This brings us less stress and the opportunity for new (maybe costly) experiences.
  • Minimalism and simple living gives us peace. When we have too much stuff, we worry about how to maintain, pay for and store that stuff. When we minimize, we can spend this energy on important things, such as the people around us and the things we like to do.
  • Minimalistic living gives us freedom, because we are less dependent on money.
  • We have more time if we live simply, because if we need less money to buy things, we also have to work less.
  • Less clutter means more energy. Minimalists often feel more energetic, happier and healthier.
minimalism and simple living

5 tips on becoming a minimalist

Are you convinced that a minimalist lifestyle suits you? Then you can, like us, experiment with it. You can do this completely in your own way, and at your own pace. The following 5 minimalism tips can help you develop a minimalist lifestyle.

Minimalistic lifestyle tip 1 | Simplify your home

Our home is one of the most important places where we spend a lot of our time. It is therefore important that we feel comfortable in it. If you have a Wandering Mind (or ADHD, HSP or autism), you probably recognize the following. The more stuff, the more clutter, and the more disorganized and chaotic you feel. Clutter makes us feel restless. That is why it is beneficial for people with ADHD – but this also applies to others who regularly feel restless – to live a minimalistic lifestyle.

The first tip is therefore: take a close look at your home. How do you feel in your home? Maybe there are things lying around that don't add much to your life. You may find that you secretly wish that you needed less time for cleaning your house. But because of all the stuff lying around, it takes you a long time to clean everything properly. Simplifying our home helps a lot. And don't worry: minimalist living does not mean that we cannot make our home a cozy place.

We can ask ourselves the following questions. 

  • What items do you no longer use, but are still there? 
  • What do you really need at home?
  • Can you bring things to the thrift store?
minimalism changed my life

Minimalism tip 2 | declutter; let go of what you don't need

Our second tip to start living like a minimalist, is related to the first tip. Declutter! “Everything you own is a burden that you have to carry on your shoulders,” someone once said to me. I didn't quite understand what he meant at the time, but now I think this is a powerful statement. Everything you own needs a place, a place in your house and a place in your mind. It can break, wear out, and it can get in the way. It may need maintenance, or you're afraid you'll lose it, or it might break.

Think about all the stuff you have, and ask yourself:

  • What really makes you happy? 
  • What items do you really use, and are there also items that you no longer use but have not yet dared to get rid of?
  • Take a look at your wardrobe. What clothes have you not worn in over a year?

The less stuff you have, the more peace you will experience.

In New Zealand, I lived in a camper van for a year. Obviously, I owned very little stuff. With everything I bought, I had to think about whether I really wanted to buy it, because the space in my camper was limited. Then I noticed for the first time how much peace of mind it gave me to own little. I realized that we actually need very little to be happy.

José, founder of Wandering Minds

minimalism changed my life

Tip 3 | consume less; take a look at your buying behavior

One of the most important components of minimalist living is thinking carefully about what we buy and consume. With everything we buy, we can ask ourselves if we really need it, or if it will make us really happy (and not just for one week). Sometimes, we buy things because we are looking for distractions, are bored or unsatisfied with our life. We are trying to fill a feeling of emptiness in ourselves. Or we might be insecure, and feel that these new clothes will give us the confidence we are looking for. Or we are tempted to buy something, just because it's on sale or cheap (and usually comes from China).

When we start minimizing, we sometimes have to ask ourselves some unpleasant questions. This is part of the process.

While we are in this process, we will notice that we start living more and more consciously. We suddenly realize that the clothing from Primark or other cheap stores is not only of poor quality, but that it probably also involved child labor and that we don't feel comfortable with this at all. When we get to choose a new iPhone after a year, we may realize that we don't like owning a product that was made by someone who lives and works in China in terrible conditions. That phone could probably last another year.

Minimalist book tip: Spark joy!

If you want to start minimizing, and it's important for you to create a home full of joy, we can highly recommend this book.

Decluttering guru Marie Kondo (the star of the Netflix series about minimalism), has revolutionized homes, and shares her tips in Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up.

This book offers a step-by-step guide on how to tidy up your home and make it a joyful, calm and organized place to be. Marie Kondo also answers questions like “where do I keep necessities, that don't bring joy”. She even explains how we can build our own personal “power spot” in our home.

Buy this book and start creating more joy!

tips on becoming a minimalist

Consuming less was (and is) a process for me too. It's definitely a process I enjoy. In 2020 I tried not to buy anything new for my wardrobe. Only second hand clothes. I regularly visit different Thrift Shops, and I'm also a big fan of apps like United Wardrobe and Vinted. I am increasingly going for quality, and I no longer feel the need to go along with all the trends that blow over after a few months.

I also minimized a lot in terms of care products. Where I used to use day and night cream, shampoo, facial cleaner, tonic, conditioner, deodorant, perfume, masks, toothpaste, body lotion and so on, my toiletry bag now mainly consists of baking soda and some essential oils such as tea tree oil, grapeseed oil, argan oil and mint oil. This is not only better for the environment, but also for my wallet and my health.

Learning to consume less is a process, and we suggest you enjoy it! Don't expect yourself to stop consuming at all from one moment to the next. Make sure that you consume more consciously, then you will automatically buy less (unnecessary things). A great side effect is that you enjoy the things you buy more, because ou have chosen these items very consciously. They improve your life, they make you happy.

Minimalist lifestyle tip 4 | Be thankful for the extra time you get to enjoy

When we start living minimalistic, we will notice that we have more spare time. We have less to clean up, spend less time shopping, and if we do it really well, we also have to work less because we need less money to buy things.

Enjoy these extra free moments. Be thankful for the extra time you have now that you've mastered the minimalist lifestyle. Fill this time with something meaningful. There are tons of wonderful experiences you can have in life other than staring at your phone or watching Netflix.

Fill your (new) free time with things that make you happy, and show gratitude. This will make the transition to a minimalistic lifestyle so easy and enjoyable!

minimalism and happiness

Minimalist lifestyle tip 5 | What do you really want?

If you are going to embrace minimalism, it is important that you know what is really important to you. What matters in your life right now? Pay some attention to your vision of life, and your core values. What things in life are essential to you? What do you find important and what do you enjoy? Do you want to contribute to life in a specific way? What really makes you excited? When do you feel happy, proud and loved?

Don't say “no” to what you don't want, but “yes” to what you do want instead.

  • Instead of saying ‘no' to using plastic, say ‘yes' to separating waste and buying plastic-free products.
  • Instead of saying ‘no' to that social obligation you don't really need, say ‘yes' to quality time with that one friend

Living a simple and minimalistic lifestyle: are you up for it?

For me, as an adult woman with ADD, a minimalist lifestyle is a blessing. I have more time to do yoga (which I need to feel good), meditation, enjoy my friendships and spend quality time with family. Minimalistic living gives me peace of mind. A nice bonus is, that I don't lose stuff anymore. In addition, it feels better to keep the impact on the environment as small as possible, and I just feel great in my house without clutter.

José – Founder of Wandering Minds

Not everyone is ready to take the first steps towards a minimalist lifestyle. Are you considering living like a minimalist? Why (not)? What are your thoughts? We are so curious about your story and process, please share it with us in the comments.

minimalism and happiness tips

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