It’s the Wednesday after holiday traditions that are essentially the polar opposite of minimalism…Thanksgiving dinner and Black Friday/CyberMonday shopping. Maybe it’s an odd time to be talking about the benefits of minimizing. Or maybe it’s the perfect time. Because the main point of minimalism and mindfulness is to make space for noticing the good in your life.
Minimalism is the philosophy that scaling back your possessions and consumption can cut stress and increase happiness. Yes it can be taken to certain extremes …like the “tiny house” phenomenon. But the essence of the idea is a really nice example of a boundary. And boundaries are an important part of becoming more mindful.
A boundary is simply a decision you make to oversee yourself in some way. When you put a line in the sand and make a decision to limit something (like the amount of “stuff” in your life), it gives you guidance for many decisions that will come thereafter. This is the benefit of a boundary.
That line in the sand, helps you keep your authentic values in mind when other people’s agendas may be pulling at you. Suddenly there is a different consideration in mind about shopping for example: ”Do I really need the newest gadget they just released? Will it really hit the mark I need it to? Or am I maybe yearning for something more intangible?” …or…. “Why am I spending so much time looking for a new outfit for the holidays…Will different clothes really make a meaningful difference in my level of joy at those parties? Or is this just a habit of searching for new stuff?”
Some form of boundary to what you feel you “must” have, can help you act more in line with your authentic priorities… Like spending time connecting with those you love (instead of searching for or caring for new things), a peaceful living space (instead of clutter and stress about finding the right organization system), or an environmentally considerate lifestyle (instead of autopilot habits of consumption).
A boundary like some form of minimalism gives you concrete limits to the stress that comes with fixating on “stuff.” And stress is the arch-rival of mindfulness. People often look to mindfulness to help them mitigate stress. But there is a level of stress where mindfulness techniques can’t do it on their own. Lifestyle surgery may be needed….something big like a leaving a toxic job or something small like re-prioritizing the importance of “stuff”. That combination can help you see and feel more deeply about the good things in life….the things you really care about.
Do what it takes to be able to notice the good as often as it’s present. Notice it and drink it in. If clearing some clutter and making more conscious choices about consumerism help you have room to be more present to the good stuff (aka love and joy), then it might just be worth a try right?
For more on minimalism visit https://www.theminimalists.com.
Jessica is the creator of The VisibleU™ Method. Over the last 19 years she has helped hundreds of busy adults create more balance in their personal and professional relationships.
Jessica received her master’s degree in Applied Psychology from New York University, and completed mediation training at the Columbia University School of Law. She has held numerous clinical roles, managed clinical operations for a national EAP, and advised executives on employee-relations concerns at Fortune 1000 companies.