Minimalism for Every Area of Your Life

This article about millennials and minimalism on Becoming Minimalist is a really great overview of why I've opted to pursue minimalism in the past year. I've watched older generations succumb to unfulfilling careers because of a society driven obsession with the pursuit of more things. It's apparent that a subsection of millennials (i.e. the subsection so often discussed in the media) are moving away from this, opting to pursue their passions and spend their money on travel and experiences rather than expensive furniture and cars.

However, minimalism goes beyond just consumerism and buying habits. It can be applied to every area of your life to clear out the physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental clutter that builds up in modern life. I've put together a list of simple ways to use the philosophy of minimalism to improve every area of our lifestyles.

Beauty: Use up all of your products before buying new ones. This will help you keep your bathroom and vanity areas clean and simple and, of course, save a lot of money.

Fashion: After determining what you want your wardrobe to look like, categorize different pieces by Own, Replace, and Need. Make the Need category your top priority, think hard about buying things from the Replace category, and avoid buying anything from the Own category.

Consumerism: Consider every single purchase an investment. Before you make a purchase, evaluate the long-term value of that item. Will it be useless or go out of style within the next year, five years, or ten years? Will it contribute to any facet of your well-being (financial, health, creativity)? Do you already own something that will suffice? I've mentioned above my philosophy on buying clothing and the same can be applied to any purchase.

Food: Nutrition is an area that I believe is commonly over-complicated. There are endless fad and deprivation diets, complicated meal plans, and foods that are good for you one day and bad for you the next. I suggest following the simple philosophy of Michael Pollan which states: "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants."

Living Space: Keep in mind the idea that the traveling eye in a minimalist space should not be distracted as it moves across the room. Minimalism doesn't necessarily mean an empty apartment with nothing but the bare essentials---decor is welcome! Just give it some thought beforehand and only display the very few things that you absolutely love and that make your space feel calm. 

Waste: Keep reusable bags in your car so that you always have one on hand. This will prevent you from having to use plastic bags if you forget to pack a reusable or if you make an impromptu trip to the store. Additionally, buy a few mesh produce bags to reduce your grocery footprint. Finally, create a zero waste kit to keep in your bag. This would contain things like a reusable metal straw, metal spork, reusable water bottle, and a cloth napkin. 

Mind:  I read a great quote on Becoming Minimalist in which Farnoosh Brock said, "We should start choosing our thoughts like we choose our clothes for the day." And another good thought on Cup of Jo about having a bouncer for your brain. It certainly takes practice, but through meditation and intention, we can control our thoughts. You have to find what works for you, but here's one method that works for me. For general mind clutter, I like to go through the alphabet one or two times, assigning a name or word to each letter (i.e. Apple, Banana, Cauliflower, etc). This sounds silly, but it distracts your mind by focusing it on something simple and meaningless, thus creating a sort of mental reset.

Technology: Delete any apps that you haven't used in the past month. Clear out old numbers from your contact list. Each month, upload your photos to your computer and start fresh with an empty camera roll. 

Fitness: This area's complexity is similar to nutrition. Of course, it's totally fine to have in depth fitness routines that you follow but I think that it can be so overwhelming for most people that they often choose to do nothing instead. The simple truth is to move more. Take a walk with your coffee/tea in the morning or go for an evening run after work. Choose leisure activities that involve movement---bike riding, hiking, tennis, swimming, skiing. If you feel tired and unmotivated to do an intense HIIT workout, then don't do it. Do a nice yoga routine instead. 

Relationships: Approach your relationships (family, friendships, romantic) with the intention of simplicity and value. Take stock of the relationships that drain you and the ones that fulfill you. Disconnect from the former and cultivate the latter, focusing on removing the ego from the equation. Strong relationships can, in fact, be simple provided both parties focus on connecting, loving, addressing problems, and practicing gratitude.