Why minimalism leads to greater happiness

​I watched a wonderful documentary on Netflix last night.

It was called ‘Minimalism’.

Minimalism is something I have become more focused on over the last 10-15 years. I try to live my life in a manner where all my possessions could fit into two large travel bags. Thus, if I ever decide that I need a change of environment, I can quickly move. With my business, I have needed a little more stuff than can fit in two bags, but I have kept my possessions to a small amount.

The people in the documentary were taking the same approach to life. They gave up high-paying careers, where they could afford almost anything, to live a simpler life where they only bought what they need.

As a result, they are focused on much fewer things and they are:

  • ​Happier
  • ​Less stressed, as they have less to worry about
  • ​More successful as they can give more time, money and resources to the things, and people who really matter to them
  • More joyful as they get to spend more time with people with similar values

​It’s not rocket science.

The less cluttered your life is, the more you can focus on the people and things that really matter. Consequently, you achieve better results because you get more done in the areas which bring you the results and rewards you really want from life.

In fact, you are less focused on the results because you derive more joy from doing the things that you really love and value. Life becomes more about the actions you take and the experiences you enjoy; and less about the outcomes. Focus really does have that dramatic effect on your life.

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​What is minimalism?

​There are many definitions but rather than provided a definition for minimalism, I will outline what it means for me; in a practical way.

Minimalism is the realisation that the true value of life does not come from the amount of stuff we own or, people we are friendly with. When you pursue minimalism, you identify what is important to you and, who is important to you. Rather than distract yourself with possessions and people that don’t add real value to your life, you give most of your time, energy, attention and resources to the people and items that bring you real joy.

Therefore, minimalism is the realisation that less really is more; as long as the less that you choose to focus on is the people and items which give you the most joy.


It is anti ‘blind’ consumerism

​Minimalists are not against buying stuff. If they really want something and, know that it will add great value to their life; not only will they buy it but, they will spend well on it to make sure that they are getting the best quality.

What minimalists are against is ‘blind’ consumerism i.e. buying things without giving any real thought to the value it will add to their life.  They believe that if people only bought the items that added real value to their life; they would be much happier and healthier. Also, it would reduce the damage we are doing to our planet due to the insatiable desire of people to buy stuff for the sake of buying it.


​Key takeaways from the documentary

​The following were the key points that I took away from the documentary:

​1. Possessions don’t bring happiness

Why minimalism leads to greater happiness drowning busyness

​If there is something missing in your life and, you don’t feel complete in some way; it is highly unlikely that you are going to be able to fill that void with anything you can purchase.

Any joy derived from items we purchase only comes from the things they allow us to do. In order for you to receive value from the items, the things they allow you to do must be things you really want to do i.e. they are important to you.

For example, I don’t own a car. I have no great need to drive as public transport meets my needs. Therefore, a car would not add any great value to my life. In fact it would be a large and unnecessary expense, as well as just being something else for me to worry about.

So, before you buy something, ask yourself the following questions:

  • ​Is this really going to add value to my life?
  • ​If so, what exact value is it going to add?
  • Does the value which will be added justify the expense and/or hassle that comes with purchasing and owning the item?

​2. Know who you are

Why minimalism leads to greater happiness edit your life

​Many people choose to spend large sums of money in the pursuit of happiness. However, they have no idea where they should spend their money as they have no idea who they are or, what is important to them.

When you don’t really know who you are; you will always be at the mercy of advertisers and marketers. You will see thousands of ads each day and, every one of them will tell you how, in some way, that their product will make your life better and thus make you happier.

When you really know yourself, you can see through these ads. You realise that while they may have benefits for other people, if they do not sit with your values and who you are, they are not going to be of any value to you or make you happier.

For example, when the iPhone first came out, I kept buying each new version as I felt that they made me happier. However, I was always worried about losing them or having them stolen. Then, one day, I asked myself what I really wanted from my phone. The answer:

  • ​To make and receive calls
  • ​To use my email
  • ​To access the internet
  • To send and receive text messages

​Any modern smart phone can do these things and, most of them cost much less than an iPhone. So, while I still have a smart phone, I buy the best value model to do what I need it to do. And, as it was not expensive; I don't worry about losing it.

​Related

​If you struggle to identify who you really are, check out Values Based Living.


3. Know your purpose

Why minimalism leads to greater happiness keep it simple

​There is a common misconception that minimalists don’t like to spend money and, don’t enjoy owning stuff. This simply isn’t true. They just realise that most items don’t add really value to their life so, they own fewer items. However, the items they own are often more expensive and of better quality than those bought by people who spend freely.

When you know your purpose, you know what you are trying to achieve in life. You can then determine which items are going to help you live your purpose and, which items do not contribute to you living your purpose. So, you buy the right items to serve your needs.

While I don’t own many possessions (e.g. I don’t have a tv) I am not afraid to spend thousands of Euros on a computer or, computer equipment. I realise that they are of great value to me and my business so, the expense is justified. The same goes for training which helps me to improve the quality and value of what I offer to my customers. However, this level of expenditure is only possible because I don’t spend money on things I don’t really need.

Related​

​If you are unsure about your purpose, check out Living Purposefully.


​4. Spend time with people with similar values

Why minimalism leads to greater happiness less to do

​It is easy to think that minimalism only applies to possessions, but it is just as important when it comes to people. Having the right people in your life will bring you a great deal of joy. They will help you to be your best self, to live, to love, to grow and to develop. All of which will allow you to achieve more than you ever could on your own.

However, having the wrong people in your life will bring you down, hold you down and prevent you from being all that you could be. Some people are toxic and, they are best loved from a distance.

With the advent of social media, people have started measuring their success in the number of ‘friends’ or ‘connections’ they have. They end up spreading themselves too thin and fail to develop real relationships.

Instead, identify the most important people in your life and ensure that they get the majority of your time, attention, energy and resources.  These are most likely to be the people who share your values and vision for the world.

​Negative to Positive

​You can identify some key changes to allow you start living a happier and more positive life with my FREE eBook - From Negative to Positive.


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​5. Love people, use things

Why minimalism leads to greater happiness precise persistent purposeful

​If you stand and observe people walking down a busy street, you will notice many people glued to their smart phones ignoring all around them. Many more will have earphones in, listening to music and blocking out the world around them. These are often people who are so in love with their possessions that they fail to seek the warmth of human interaction.

The real joy in life comes from out interactions with others, not from possessions. Possessions can be replaced, peoples cannot. Don’t allow yourself to get to the point where you lose an important relationship because you failed to give the other person the time and attention that they both needed and deserved.

Enjoy your possessions but do not put them before the people who add the real value and joy to your life.

​Related

​If you would like to start moving towards minimalism, ​identifying and defining your core values will give you a great ​start. Check out Values Based Living.


​Conclusion

​Minimalism is a great way to increase your happiness. It is not about sacrifice. It is about focusing on the people and possessions that add real value to your life. This can only be achieved by decluttering your life and removing anything which does not add value. Identify where your joy and happiness come from and make more time for it. Then, less will truly be more and you will be grateful for it.