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Minimalism: Consuming less, enjoying life more

Posted on Tuesday September 20, 2022

Minimalism: Consuming less, enjoying life more

The less is best concept has been gaining popularity, particularly among the younger generation. Whether out of concern for the environment, a desire to manage their money more effectively or simply to make more room for things that truly spark joy, many people are trying to adopt a minimalist way of life. Let’s take a closer look at this trend that has grown into a movement.

What exactly is minimalism?

Minimalism means limiting your material possessions in order to streamline your living space and keep only what is actually important to you. Many studies have shown that people accumulate things in an effort to meet certain emotional needs and (falsely) improve their self-esteem. Minimalists strive to change their relationship with material things by reducing—or even eliminating—this dependence and replacing it with something more meaningful. The goal? To live a more fulfilling life with less!

Embracing minimalism to create space for what’s important

According to minimalists, cleaning house also helps to clarify things inside our heads. The main goal is to declutter our lives and start focusing on what’s truly important: experiences, objects that have sentimental value or serve a real purpose and, of course, personal relationships.

An original study conducted by psychologist Lucas A. Keefer and colleagues at the University of Southern Mississippi and published in 2012 in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology revealed that if people perceive that those close to them are unreliable, they become more attached to their possessions as compensation. Taking a trip that helps us grow as a person or doing an outdoor activity with friends instead of buying a new watch, for example, is an approach in keeping with the minimalist way of thinking.

Simplifying your budget (and your life!)

Are you in your twenties, living in an apartment and working to pay off a student debt? These are financial reasons that might attract you to minimalism. It’s simple math: The less you consume, the less you spend!

Vicky Payeur, founder of the site Vivre avec moins (“Living with less”), discovered minimalism while she was juggling school with a full-time job. She says that thanks to her new lifestyle, she was able to pay off her $16,000 debt in less than three years. Other people also took the plunge, like Carmen LeBlanc and Maxime Bernard, a couple from Moncton who decided to move into a tiny house and drastically declutter their lives.

When budgeting, what’s important is to spend our money on things that bring us long-term satisfaction, not superfluous things that we’re constantly replacing. The next time you’re sizing up a major purchase (for example, a car or computer), instead of doing complicated calculations to figure out how much you can afford, list your needs and the reasons you want that item. You might realize you can wait a bit longer before buying a home theatre, which will leave you with plenty of wiggle room in your budget to pursue other projects, big or small, that are important to you.

Being minimalist in style

Don’t think that becoming a minimalist means “settling for less”! You can be passionate about design while minimizing your belongings to the essentials. The current japandi trend, a contraction of the words Japan and Scandinavia, is proof. By combining two very strong aesthetic influences, this deco trend promotes an environment of warmth, simplicity, light and nature. The japandi mantra: “Less is best.” Own few belongings and focus on durability, quality and personalization.

Minimalism: A how-to

Decluttering your life is a personal journey that can take time but, if you stick to it, is definitely worth the effort.

Sort through your belongings 

There are several ways to sort. You can put items that aren’t used regularly in boxes, and if after two or three months they still haven’t been used, ask yourself if they need to be kept.

Some people prefer to sort based on the type of item: clothing, books, cooking utensils, keepsakes and so on. Others declutter their living space room by room, from the basement to the attic. Setting a deadline for yourself can also be a good motivator for action.

Consider donating your clothes to local thrift stores, give a second life to the Barbie dolls and LEGOs cluttering up your parents’ closets by donating them to organizations like Moncton Multiples or What Kids Need Moncton, and find out about your local Facebook Marketplace or donation pages. By letting go of things you don’t need anymore, you’ll not only make others happy, but also the planet!

Get organized

Designate a specific storage space for each type of object. This will make it easier to identify the things you don’t really need.

Pay cash for everyday expenses

Because paper money is tangible, paying cash will help you be mindful of the value of things. Although being able to pay in cash was uncommon at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when many businesses only accepted card payments, picking this habit up again may help balance your budget. Small credit card purchases may seem insignificant, but they do add up, both on your bank statements and in your living space! Be sure to use the right financial tools to plan your budget.

Look to others for inspiration

Books and shows abound on this trending topic: Faire plus avec moins (“Do more with less”) by Vicky Payeur, Joshua Becker’s The Minimalist Home, The Minimalists: Less is More, Tidying up with Marie Kondo or Tiny House Nation, whose last three seasons are available on Netflix. Online, many blogs offer inspiring posts and methods to guide you through your first steps into minimalism.

Taking the time do things right

Don’t forget the goal is also to find happiness in the minimalist lifestyle! Let yourself keep things that are truly important to you (your vinyl or book collection, for example) even if you only use them occasionally. The goal isn’t to get rid of everything you own, but rather to gradually rethink your relationship with material things and adopt a lighter, healthier approach to daily life. Try it out! The best way to experience the positive effects of minimalism is to give it a shot yourself.

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