Today I'm sharing a guest post from my friend Jenn Baxter, who writes about minimalism, clean eating, non-toxic products, and emotional/spiritual health (what she likes to call "bucket list living") over at her blog Live a F.a.s.t. Life. The acronym in her blog name stands for Fabulous, Abundant, Simple and Tiny, which are qualities she seeks in her everyday life.
After reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up book last winter and using the KonMari method as a guide for decluttering my home, I appreciate minimalism more than ever! That's why I was so excited when Jenn reached out to me to share some of her wisdom regarding downsizing and living a minimalist lifestyle. I hope you enjoy! - Elaina
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When I first tell people that I got rid of about 80% of my belongings to move into a 160 square foot tiny house (yes, the size of most people’s kitchens), I usually get one of two reactions:
“Wow! That is so amazing! You are so brave, I wish I could that.”
“Wait a minute…you did what?” (Accompanied, of course, by a “You’re out of your mind” look.)
There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground when it comes to the idea of simplifying and minimalism. People seem to either love it or hate it.
But no matter which of the two camps you fall into, there’s something that you might not know about minimalism.
It actually helps you get MORE out of life.
Yes…HAVING LESS = GETTING MORE.
Why Having Less Actually Helps You Get More Out of Life
Now, before you start thinking you should get rid of your stuff just so you can go out and buy more, that’s not what I mean.
What I’m talking about is getting more of what really matters.
More time, more energy, more love, more LIFE.
See, the truth is…most of us have too much stuff. It fills up our closets, overflows from our cabinets and makes actually parking a car in the garage an impossible feat.
Being human, we tend to fill up whatever space we have. Give us a two bedroom apartment, we’ll fill it up. But move us into a five bedroom home and within no time, we’ll fill that up too.
It’s all part of the “acquire, acquire, acquire…buy, buy, buy” mentality that we’ve all been taught. We’re bombarded all day, every day with television commercials, billboards and magazine ads that tell us all about the latest, greatest thing that we have to have. And we fall for it!
Whether we’re trying to keep up with everyone else or just trying to make ourselves happy, we start to accumulate stuff in an attempt to be joyful and enjoy life.
Only problem with that is…stuff won’t bring you happiness.
In fact, it can do quite the opposite. Clutter can make you feel anxious, stressed and fatigued. You spend more time straightening and cleaning. You stress yourself out trying to find more space for all the stuff. And you constantly think about needing to “go through it.”
Not exactly my idea of living.
But when you reach a point where you realize that your stuff doesn’t define you and that it is indeed just stuff…that is when the real fun begins!
Benefits of Minimalist Living (i.e. Having Less Stuff)
1. No More Guilt
When you get rid of stuff that you’re not using, you throw away the guilt with it. Maybe it’s a gift that someone gave you that you never really liked or wanted. Or maybe you bought supplies or equipment for a hobby that you just never got around to using.
Keeping those things around may make you feel a little less guilty, but when it comes down to it, you’re still not using them. They still are just sitting there…gathering dust.
So why not give yourself permission to let them go? It’s okay that you never learned to play the guitar or never used the paint-your-own-bird feeder set your mom gave you five years ago.
You can’t do everything and use everything, but getting rid of the “guilt” items will give you MORE time and energy for things you actually want to do!
2. Free Up Your $$
You may have never thought about this…but your stuff costs money to maintain. The biggest cost, of course, being a bigger home than you actually need (to house all the stuff you have!). Remember how I said we expand to fill the space we’re in? That’s why you can buy a home and think it’s great and spacious, but then a few years later, feel cramped and claustrophobic.
But your stuff may also be costing you money in upkeep with service plans, insurance, maintenance or cleaning. Or maybe you’re still paying on a monthly payment plan for something you bought 3 years ago (and never use).
Simplifying and downsizing your belongings will help you get MORE money because everything you own will be something that you actually need and interact with on a regular basis. Not something you meant to use, or hope to use, or think you should use.
Plus, once you start feeling the freedom and excitement that comes along with downsizing…it will start to become addictive. And your entire perspective will start to switch. You will stop feeling compelled to buy things that you don’t need and be more likely to stick to only the necessities in the future.
3. Actually Start Living
Perhaps the best “more” that you’ll get from simplifying, though, is MORE life.
When you are caught up in the everyday hustle of trying to work long hours to make enough money to buy things you don’t even really need, you start to forget to actually live. Everything becomes about getting and acquiring, making ends meet, keeping up.
But once you break that chain and realize your happiness does NOT come from material things, you are free to start doing things that actually do make you happy…
Spending time with friends and family, traveling, taking up hobbies that you actually want to do and maybe even marking some adventures off your bucket list.
You start to realize that the time and money you were spending on things like apps, devices, clothes and furniture can be put toward more meaningful things that are going to stay with you longer.
And that, my friends, is when you stop surviving and actually start LIVING.
Want more tips and information on how to downsize and de-clutter your home? Check out my “De-Clutter” e-course right here!
About the Guest Author
Jenn Baxter is an accomplished writer in Charlotte, NC, who has been published in numerous print publications, as well as featured as a columnist on Beliefnet.com.
In 2015, she launched her website, Live a F.a.s.t. Life, based on her own experiences with clean living, emotional health and downsizing into a 160 sq. ft. tiny house.
Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest and get your FREE 5-part “Jump Start Guide” by subscribing to her email list here!