Minimalist Living means breaking your every day down to the basics. No need to uproot your life and move to a log cabin out in the woods. Every one of us can bring a little more minimalism into our lives — all day and every day, starting right now.
Freedom, simplicity and easygoingness in our daily lives — three things we all find ourselves wishing for at some point or another and that minimalist living could help us find. Yet, in today’s modern world, the simplicity and ease we wish for often elude us: consumption, material possession and self-improvement appear to be the more prevalent values of the day.
A strictly minimalist lifestyle sounds to many like an off-the-grid life fueled by sacrifice. Here is the good news: you can indeed actively participate in everyday modern life while at the same time employing minimalist strategies granting you a greater deal of freedom.
Our tips for living a simpler lifestyle are aimed at helping you on your way to making small but pivotal changes to regular routines and habits, all of which will make your life simpler and easier — and they’ll also make you a little bit happier.
1. Walk More and Leave Your Car at Home
As comfortable and convenient as taking your car may be, just leave it at home once in a while. Choose one day out of the week (stick to it!) and if the distance allows it, walk to every one of your destinations — whether that be a commute to work, a trip to the grocery store or meeting up with friends.
Why? Going by foot prevents you from getting wound up while stuck in rush-hour traffic and avoids the subway rush. The walk to and from work gives you time to concentrate on yourself. Plus, there’s no gas or electricity required: The only energy you’ll need to burn is your own. That is why walking is an important part of minimalist living.
2. Ask Yourself More Often: Do I Really Need This?
“Do I even need this?” That’s not as trivial a question as it seems. We’re all guilty of buying things we don’t really need merely because they’re cheap, readily available or happen to be in style. However, as “Fight Club” character Tyler Durden said: The things you own ending up owning you — because we worry about them, we bother and concern ourselves with our possessions. If you want to live a simpler life, start living with less and stop buying stuff you don’t need!
3. Cook for Yourself Using Fresh Ingredients
Processed and semi-processed foods are anything but minimalist: They’re packed full of additives. “Real” food doesn’t need any of those. Try cooking yourself: With fresh, simple and local ingredients from your area, with time and at your leisure. It’s better for you and the planet — and not to mention: There’s nothing like a home-cooked meal to lift your spirits. See how it fits in with minimalist living?
4. Reduce Your Meat Consumption
With cheap prices at discount grocers, it’s easy to forget that meat should really be a luxury good. Less is more when you buy quality products. Cracking down on your meat consumption saves money, reduces your environmental footprint and opens your eyes to new perspectives. And doesn’t knowing that no animal had to die for you feel good? There’s a reason why a lot of well-known people who are vegetarians and vegans are also living a minimalist lifestyle. Not convinced? Here’re some of the benefits of eating more vegetables or even going vegetarian. But don’t put pressure too much on yourself, everyone has to start somewhere.
5. Grow Your Own Food
This idea for more minimalist living is not as hard as it may sound: You too can cultivate your own homegrown herbs or vegetables right there on your window sill or even on the smallest of balconies. Your payout is a range of additive-free ingredients neither wrapped in plastic nor shipped halfway around the world — you get to eat whatever’s in season. Even if it’s only sprouts or a couple of tomatoes, growing your own food is rewarding and leaves you with a feeling of joy.
6. Get Out of the City and Experience Simple Living
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and switch up your routine by spending a weekend outside every now and then — without the excess of a luxury hotel: at the lake, in the mountains, rent a cabin or bring your tent far away from the city. The tranquility, simplicity and proximity to nature won’t just do you some good but is also (as long as you’re not tooling around in an SUV!) more sustainable than spending the weekend shopping. Get out and explore for yourself what true minimalist living can be and how it feels.
7. Drink Tap Water Instead of Bottled Water
We all have an endless source of the only beverage essential to survival at arm’s reach at home. So anybody persisting in grabbing bottled water on the go only has themselves to blame. Minimalist living means calling it quits with overpriced bottled drinks. Drink tap water instead — it saves money and makes your life a little simpler. Make sure to check out our tips on how to clean your reusable water bottle.
8. Switch Off Once in a While
The TV’s babbling in the background, the dryer is running, you’re recharging your phone and all the lights in the house are on — shut everything down once in a while. Actively reducing your electricity use will automatically help you towards living a more minimalist lifestyle. It will also make you happier — once you receive your utility bill if not immediately.
9. Repair Things Yourself
Minimalist living doesn’t only entail making do with fewer possessions. It also means extending the lifespan of the things you have. Try your hand at making repairs yourself the next time something stops working. This is often much simpler than you’d think. At the same time, you’ll learn to appreciate everyday household objects and your abilities.
10. Clean Out Your Closet
There’s more than a good chance you’ll find old clothes that you haven’t worn in ages and probably never will. You don’t need to begin by emptying your closet in heaps like some “seasoned” minimalists.
However, radically clearing out your closet (without immediately filling it back up) can prove quite satisfying. One more step on your journey to simpler living: The less you have hanging in your closet, the less time you need to spend agonizing over what you want to wear in the morning — and the more time you have to spend on more important things in life.
Tip: You can apply Marie Kondo’s KonMari method: only keep what “sparks joy”.
11. Buy Package-Free Products
Less packaging means less (unnecessary) waste. This also means less time spent on unpackaging, disposal etc. — and, of course, less harmful plastic in the oceans.
The farmer’s market or your local grocer is a good place to start. Once you’ve stumbled upon a plastic-free store — currently gaining in popularity — you’re golden. Just make sure to bring your reusable bag for your groceries.
12. Take More Time for Yourself
Minimalist living also means not always chasing after entertainment and company at the drop of a hat. Carve some time out of your day for yourself, for things that you actually enjoy. Rise early for a morning workout, do yoga, practice some mindfulness exercises, go for a walk or just do nothing.
Everybody finds calm and relaxation in their way. Important is not how but whether and how often you can find some time for yourself. If all else fails, plan set times for yourself. One or two hours a week all to yourself can’t be too out of reach.
BTW, purposely missing out on stuff is an actual thing now and it’s called JOMO: The Joy of Missing Out. Doesn’t that sound nice?underlined orange are partially partner links: If you buy here, you actively support Utopia.org, because we will receive a small part of the sales proceeds. More info.
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