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6 Unexpected Ways a Minimalist Home Can Boost Your Life

  • Joshua Becker The Minimalist Home
6 Unexpected Ways a Minimalist Home Can Boost Your Life

Minimalism, as I’m referring to it, is not about taking something away from you; it’s about giving something to you. My definition of minimalism is “the intentional promotion of things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from them.” As I sometimes like to say, minimizing is actually optimizing—reducing the number of your possessions until you get to the best possible level for you and your family. It’s individual, freeing, and life promoting. It’s a makeover that you can do on your own, in your current house, just by getting rid of stuff.

I’m not a guru, counselor, or life coach. I’m not going to discuss mindfulness with you, delve into your childhood, or encourage you to map your future. And I don’t want to make unwarranted assumptions about you, because I don’t know exactly where your journey is taking you. Everybody is different.

But I have observed certain basic moves that I believe every new minimalist has to make at some time to reach out and seize the potential that having a minimalist home offers. These steps will get you well on your way across the bridge from dreaming to doing.

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1. See the Potential in Yourself First

1. See the Potential in Yourself First

Minimalism is not about checking out on life. Just the opposite: it’s about en­gaging life better. And that will never happen without a hopeful mind-set.

The way I look at it, somewhere between the hucksterism of “You can do anything you want!” and the defeatism of “Poor me, I’ll never amount to any­thing” lies the truth. Positive thinking is powerful. It just isn’t miracle working. But that needn’t stop any of us from having a realistic faith that we can level up our significance.

So never, ever sell yourself short. With more resources in your kit thanks to minimizing your possessions, you can try new things and make changes that once seemed out of reach. So go ahead and dream big dreams about what you can do with your life. With your collection of stuff shrunk to a rational size, you really do now have the opportunity to expand in personal influence.

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2. Allocate Your Resources to the Things That Matter Most to You

2. Allocate Your Resources to the Things That Matter Most to You

The second step in maximizing the rest of your life is to begin directing your resources toward those values you already hold dear—those things that moti­vated you to pursue minimalism in the first place. Maybe being debt-free is a high value for you. Great. Take the financial savings you’re getting from mini­mizing your home and use it to pay down your credit card and loan balances. Or maybe traveling the world is important to you. Then plan your first trip itinerary, budget the money, set aside the time for it—and go!

Your highest values may never change in your lifetime. Or maybe they will. But regardless, start with what matters to you now and shift resources there. Along with these resources, you’ll shift the emphasis of your life.

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3. Learn When to Say No

3. Learn When to Say No

In The Minimalist Home, we focus on minimizing possessions around the house. But the skills acquired in weighing benefits against burdens with our household objects are skills we can apply in less tangible parts of our lives too, including our schedule, commitments, and relationships. We don’t have total control over how we spend our time and who we spend it with, but we have some choices we can take back from others or from societal expecta­tions. And saying no to distractions means saying yes to our dreams.

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“…we have some choices we can take back from others…”

“…we have some choices we can take back from others…”

Just as some of our possessions are not bad but just not worthwhile enough to keep around, so some of the things we could spend our time on have some value but don’t help us in achieving our greater purpose right now:

No, I can’t work overtime this weekend. Little League season is coming up, and I promised my son I’d teach him batting.

No, I’d better not go to that cheesecake place after the movie. I’m halfway to my weight-loss goal, and I don’t want to lose momentum now.

Thanks anyway, but I’m afraid not. (I’ve got something else great I’ve got to do!)

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4. Nurture Gratitude; Grow Generosity

4. Nurture Gratitude; Grow Generosity

Minimizing your home gradually changes your attitudes toward both what you hold on to and what you give away. That is, it encourages gratitude and generosity. Both attitudes can help you in becoming the person you want to be.

 

Gratitude. 

When you not only don’t have too much stuff but also don’t want too much stuff, you experience a contentment that the person who lusts after the latest gadgetry and crowds in more furniture will never know. When your collection of possessions is down to just the stuff you need, then you not only notice them more but also appreciate them more. You feel satisfaction and peace. Gratitude arises within, and that’s a more attractive quality than greed will ever be.

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“Minimalism allows you to live a more selfless lifestyle.”

“Minimalism allows you to live a more selfless lifestyle.”

Gratitude also reminds us that we have so much to give others—the connection to its twin attitude:

 

Generosity.

Minimalism allows you to live a more selfless lifestyle. If you’re no longer trying to live a life of get, get, get, you can begin living a life of give, give, give. You become a generous person, the kind of person who waters this parched world of ours.

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5. Look for a Greater Purpose Outside Yourself

5. Look for a Greater Purpose Outside Yourself

Ultimately, if we’re attentive, we’ll glimpse a greater peak in the distance—one we may not have seen when we began this journey. It’s a purpose beyond our­selves. A purpose bigger than ourselves. One that’s worthy of the life we’ve been given to live.

For some, this purpose is centered on their family: their spouse, kids, par­ents, or other relatives.

For others, this may be a specific cause: the homeless, the environment, animals, children, the disabled, addicts, or something else.

Still others might discover that in their career or work they are able to find greater purpose by serving others and not merely earning a paycheck. What passion burns within you? What opportunities present themselves? What needs do you have the ability to meet?

Enjoy the personal rewards of minimizing your home, by all means. But go further to look for and attach yourself to purposes outside yourself.

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6. Get Moving

6. Get Moving

I describe a home as both a safe haven from the storms of life and a port of departure into experiences of greater service and significance. That means you’re the ship. And a ship is meant to move.

Eventually you’ve got to cast off the mooring line and set sail. Sign up as the coach on your daughter’s softball team. Fill out the volunteer application at the nonprofit downtown. Tell the registrar you’re ready to resume your college studies.

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“…only a ship in motion can reorient its navigation.”

“…only a ship in motion can reorient its navigation.”

We make progress only when we’re moving.

True, you may never reach the destination you have in mind. You may change course not once but many times, accomplishing different things from what you originally intended. But only a ship in motion can reorient its naviga­tion. And often the new opportunities we discover as we’re heading somewhere else are actually better than we could ever have anticipated.

JOSHUA BECKER is the founder and editor of Becoming Minimalist, a website dedicated to inspiring others to find more life by owning less. The website welcomes over 1,000,000 readers each month and has inspired millions around the world to consider the practical benefits of owning fewer possessions and given them the practical help to get started. The Minimalist Home: A Room-by-Room Guide to a Declutter, Refocused Lifeis a following up to his 2016 best-seller (Wall Street JournalUSA TodayPublisher's Weekly, Amazon, Audible) The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own.

Adapted from The Minimalist Home: A Room-by-Room Guide to a Decluttered, Refocused Life. Copyright © 2018 by Joshua Becker. Used with permission from WaterBrook, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.

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