I have been a minimalist for several years now, and this lifestyle has done wonders for my mental and physical health. However, it didn’t happen overnight.
I recently read an article by a woman who has subscribed to this idea that she could sell all her stuff, pay off her debts and go travel the world. She was complaining that she wasn’t getting enough money for her stuff to make a significant dent in her debt and that she would ‘wait until the end of the month’ to see if it would work out. She had already decided that minimalism was some kind of scam, that it would only work for privileged white men with 6 figure jobs who had a lot of expenses to be reduced from the start.
Yes, if you are pulling in 6 figures it’s going to be a lot easier to save up a ton of money by living simply, but this isn’t minimalism. If your ultimate goal is to have a pile of cash to spend on something else you should be looking at expense management and savings techniques, not minimalism.
I didn’t start with a 6 figure job, I started homeless and earning scarcely more than minimum wage.
I don’t have a pile of cash in the bank thanks to minimalism, but I got much needed dental work done, made a start on my studies, moved country and started working for a non-profit organization that aligns with my beliefs, I am able to travel, and have a beautiful home and wardrobe that is quality over quantity. These things happened over 4 years, so while I can look back and see the dramatic effect that minimalism has had on my life now, it would have been impossible to see one month in.
On the physical side minimalism has done great things for me, but what really matters most is not my beautiful simple apartment or my eco-friendly clothing or even my great job. The part of minimalism that has been most valuable to me is challenging and removing the negative ideas that advertising and society’s expectations had placed on me. Minimalism is as much, if not more, mental than physical. It is a tool to help you identify what is important to you and to pursue that goal unimpeded by stuff. It removes the social pressure to look and live a certain way. It smashes the idea that your value as a human being is measured by your things. Saving money is often, but not always, a side effect.
For years before minimalism, I felt like I wasn’t good enough.
For years before minimalism, I was scared to try anything new, because in my mind I was already a failure.
For years before minimalism, I felt like I had no future.
I was depressed and lonely, I didn’t date or really socialize because I was paralyzed by these thoughts of not being good enough. I watched TV because it took me out of my own life and into someone else’s.
Once I started thinking about living more simply and intentionally my mental state changed. I became calmer, happier, more confident and sociable. I put myself in the position to meet interesting new people, and they were attracted to my positivity. I made new friends and I met the most wonderful, intelligent, kind man who is now my fiancee! Good human connections led to opportunities and bit my bit my life got better. I was more grateful for the things I already had and took joy in simple pleasures I had previously taken for granted. The more my mental state improved, the more my circumstances improved.
5 years ago I couldn’t have imagined that my life could be this good. I could not have imagined that I could be this happy. Minimalism wasn’t a magic wand that fixed my life, but it was a tool that I used to fix my own life.