The Gist


The New Year is the perfect excuse to change up our lifestyles. And in a world that's increasingly getting full of clutter and junk, what could be better than a nudge towards minimalism?

/ 20 January 2021

There are a lot of definitions floating around on what minimalism really is, especially most recently when the so-called “trend” started making waves through Netflix documentaries, dedicated YouTube channels, inspiring bloggers, and more. But at the very core of it, minimalism is a lifestyle—much less a passing trend than what other people think—which basically means minimizing distractions to focus on what really matters.

Having less possessions, decluttering homes, and removing every unnecessary thing in our lives are mere facets of what the term “distraction” means. This is also what most people like to focus on when they tell themselves they can’t live a minimalist life, pinning it on their insatiable desire to buy more, spend more, and consume more. And although that could be where the lifestyle starts, it’s NOT what minimalism is all about.

What most people fail to realize is that to “minimize distractions to focus on what really matters” is the key message of this lifestyle. Sure, getting rid of our material belongings can play a part on that, but it’s not the main goal. Those things just tend to follow when you finally realize what you want to focus on.

On top of that, it’s not only material things that you have to reflect on when making the shift. You should also reconsider how you spend your time (do you spend hours mindlessly browsing social media?), who you spend your time with (cut out those toxic people!), and the things your mind zeroes in on during your quiet times (are you thinking about what you’re going to eat later, when you’re supposed to be meditating?).

It might be rough to start, especially when you’re so used to browsing online shops for things you might need, but not really, and trying to plan how else to vamp up your space or your wardrobe. But there are a lot of benefits that outweigh these costs.. or the lack of it, anyway.

Some benefits of minimalism include:

  • Making space for what’s important. When you realize that more than half of the things you own are things that you no longer really need, you’ll have a lot of leftover space to fill up with things that actually matter. This can vary between photo albums, tools for your hobbies, or lively plants—it all depends on what you believe would enrich your life more. Or, you could also choose to leave those spaces blank. After all, seeing open spaces visually can also clear up spaces in our heads.
  • Freedom. Owning so many things could feel quite stressful in the long run. After all, the more you have, the more you have to lose. With less objects to tie you down, you’ll feel a lot lighter to move around in the world (and it’ll be a ton easier to move from place to place as well).
  • More time for hobbies. Instead of figuring out how to redo your room, or catching up on the latest TikTok trends online, how about taking on some hobbies you can do with your hands? Knitting? Yoga? Working out? Gardening? These activities could help nourish your mind and body.
  • Peace of mind and better mental health. You know when you break up with someone, and delete all of their photos on your phone, or throw away all the gifts they gave you—and it makes you feel lighter and ready to start anew? That’s basically what will happen when you rule out the possessions, people, and activities you want to get rid of. Without filling your head with unnecessary “things,” you’ll feel a lot happier and at peace.

Still, any lifestyle change needs some time to get used to and fully commit to. Which means you won’t have a minimalist mindset overnight. To start, try jotting down on your journal everything you think is important for you, including hobbies, material things, and maybe even people you want to keep close. Also, you could go through your “follow” list on social media as that could be a major contributor to all the clutter in your life—both through unnecessary news, ads, and influencers you don’t even watch anymore.

There are a lot of resources online that could inspire and motivate you, such as The Minimalists: Less is Now and Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things on Netflix, to name a few.