Minimalism focuses on only owning things you need, not accumulating waste and reducing clutter. But the principles of minimalism also apply to how you live your life. I recently posted about how medical school was a real struggle on my wellbeing and general happiness. During this time, I realized I had to make some life changes and I immediately went back to the theories behind minimalism.
Making minimalist decisions in terms of my belongings had worked really well for me, I loved the freedom and it definitely reduced my frivolous spending. I had briefly read about the use of minimalism in lifestyle when researching the concept. Though not everyone takes the steps I made to reduce your life clutter, most keep it on the physical level. But I found it really helped my mindfulness and personal success by making these changes.
- Reduce the social clutter
Don’t go to events for the belief that you need to or should go; go because you want to. Spend time focusing on the people you like and not people you don’t like but spend time with anyway. Its really not worth your emotional time and effort. I’ve taken a big step back from my worries of it people like me or not; I realized I was wasting precious time on these insecurities and not on my actual friends or other stresses. Its definitely about focusing on the people that matter to you; and not worrying about people’s perceptions of you if you don’t go to social events.
There are people at Uni who are attending a multiyear social event because it is a perceived social requirement and not because they want to. They are worrying about whether to go or not, wasting their time worrying about what people will think of them even though they know that it’s going to be an effort to go. Why?! This is such a waste of precious emotion and time! Pick the important parts of life, embrace them and don’t waste your hard-earned time.
- Long-Term and Short-Term Goals
Write lists! It’s a perfect way of dividing your time and focusing on the important things you need to complete. The trick Is not to make the classic ‘To Do’ lists but develop a list of short-term and long-term goals. Short-term goals focus on what needs doing, that day, that week and even that month. Divide up these goals accordingly. Things that need doing but have no real deadline make monthly goals, or if you want to donate 5 unused items to charity a month, add that to your monthly goals. Short-term goals roughly defined are your ‘to do’ list, but all the negative connotations have been removed and replaced with the feeling of accomplishment when you complete them.
Long term goals are your major targets and life goals; things you may want to complete but aren’t bucket list worthy. Some of my long-term goals include a yearly savings aim, or a cumulative target for work over the year. Some examples of mine include: pass first year and complete my Duolingo French course. I’ve become to stray away from the bucket list concept as I have become disheartened as I’ve not crossed anything off for a while and when things are super long-term goals, like five to ten years. My ‘bucket list’ still exists, but it contains items that will take over 18 months to 5 years to complete.
- Drink Less, Eat Better
Having a cleaner, healthier lifestyle is a great way to give your body some love and attention. Reduce the clutter in your fridge and get rid of items you never eat. Eating fresher food, not necessarily just fresh food. But less takeaways, less ready meals and eating more fish, vegetables and white meats. I’ve reduced my red meat intake both for health and costs effectiveness; increased my fish and vegetable intake, and the difference is profound. I feel happier and the feeling of ‘heaviness’ after meals has gone, yet I always leave satisfied.
I’ve also made the decision to stop drinking. Though not a heavy or frequent drinker I have occasionally had a drink or two on a night out with friends, just to feel social and accepted in a pub or club. I realized recently when I made the decision not to attend most of my freshers events, that the knowledge I was going to have to go and probably have a drink was always a grey cloud on an event, and often I would get to the end of a night out and regret having the couple of drinks I had.
- Take a moment to reflect
Always take a moment to reflect on what you are doing and whether you’re a being a successful human being and managing your life well. This can be a moment of meditation on the bus, or a 20-minute yoga routine in the evening. Take a moment once a month to look over your goal making process, are you achieving your goals, are you setting enough or too many? Are you feeling good about completing them? You need to ask these questions to yourself in order to keep things working for you and getting maximum efficiency with your time. This by no means you can’t spend the evening watching crappy tv or playing computer games. Just don’t waste time on things that don’t interest you or make you miserable.
- Take time to give something back
Though not completely a minimalist ideal, I try to find a small amount of time to give something back. To the local community, to charity or even help a friend out. The positive feel good returns will help you keep motivated and often help you live minimally. Donating items to a charity shop cleans out your clutter and helps people who really need it. It can be as simple as always trying to stop and give directions or watering the neighbour’s garden whilst their away.
The decision to make these life changes has really helped me over the last week to feel less stressed and more motivated to keep going with all the work I have to do. It’s made me less socially anxious about going out and allowed me to find the time to do things I enjoy like baking and reading. I’ve put the positive steps in place and the reminders to complete them and really living by the desire to live cleanly with reduced stresses, and social expectations.
Living happily is a matter of choosing to fulfill the positive demands of your inner-self over your societal expectations – Edmond Mbiaka