Since learning about minimalist living, and applying it to my life, I’ve come across tons of different definitions of what living simply actually means.
Some purists go fully hardcore on how they define it, and others (like yours truly) have a broader and more conceptual take on minimalist living.
So right now, I’d like to share 10 different definitions of what minimalist living means to me and how applying these definitions has totally transformed my life.
I’ll kick this off with my broadest and most favorite definition ever. And in the spirit of minimalist living, it’s super simple.
My Ultimate Minimalist Living Definition #1
Ok, here’s my purest, ‘no fills’ definition of minimalist living:
Minimalist living is a personal journey that removes the things that aren’t truly important from your life, so you can focus on the things that bring you most joy.
Boom. That’s it in a nutshell. And on the flip of that, here’s what I think minimalist living is NOT:
- Throwing all your shit out and living in a cardboard box
- Turning into a douchebag that only wears black polo necks and eats rice cakes
- Living in a sterile icebox with as much character as a tupperware container
But back to what it is and how it can help you increase your happiness and health. Let’s press on with these awesome definitions.
Minimalist Living Definition #2 – Living intentionally
For me, this has been a life changer. And that’s not something I say lightly. Living an intentional life has transformed everything for me – my health, fitness, home, relationships and finances.
It’s changed my outlook on life and it’s transformed me into a new and happier person.
Living intentionally simply means knowing what you want in life and making the right decisions everyday so that becomes the life you lead.
Living with intention means saying no to the things that aren’t important to us so we can say yes to what matters most.
― Crystal Paine
To live intentionally, you gotta have a super clear vision of what you stand for. Then, all you need to do is make sure that every decision you make (no matter how small or how hard it is) remains 100% true to this vision.
I figured this out by first discovering my personal purpose.
Then I set out goals that would help me move towards my awesome purpose.
Now (and most important of all) I take action every single day to make these goals become a reality.
Even if you have zero interest in minimalist living, you should absolutely live with intention. It’ll help you create a clear path for your life and stop you wandering aimlessly through your days. You’ll control your destiny and reach your personal purpose.
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Minimalist Living Definition #3 – Not giving a fuck about what others think of you
Nothing complicates your life and consumes more of your precious headspace than caring about what other people think of you.
As you embark on your journey of minimalist living, you’ll undoubtedly face resistance from people around you. In fact, anytime you deviate from what’s considered ‘normal’ you’ll face challenges from others.
But it’s important to remember that ‘normal’ will never be exceptional, so always take the path less traveled.
I’ve encountered external resistance from others, usually to the things that have ended up making me the happiest of all; putting myself out there through this blog, going vegan and of course, living a more minimalist life.
From friends who mock you, to people who discourage you, and those who don’t even take the time to listen, you’ll experience it all. But you know what? When you get resistance from others, take it as the ultimate sign that you’re on the right track. Instead of listening to the criticism and pulling back, lean into your shit and go harder than ever.
See, when you put yourself outside of your comfort zone you grow. But by doing this, you make others feel outside of their comfort zones. And they don’t like it. They feel uncomfortable. So they snear or judge or rationalize things by saying that you’re crazy.
I recently got an awesome email from Daniel DiPiazza over at Rich20Something.com that nailed this.
He broke it down by saying that people who criticize you or dismiss you for doing something different just don’t understand your “why.”
They don’t understand why your dreams and passions mean so much to you.
And that’s all good.
It’s perfectly fine to live a life that others don’t understand.
And it’s absolutely ok to be the misfit or the outcast. In fact, it’s usually an awesome indication that you’re finding what’s truly important to you. You’re finding yourself.
As Daniel says, the only thing that ISN’T ok is giving up your unique personality or hiding your gifts and passions because someone else shamed you into shrinking from your potential.
So today, go out and live life on your own terms. Don’t give a fuck about what others think of you.
In due time, all those haters will ultimately realize you were just living ahead of the curve. And they’ll be left scrambling to catch up with the real trailblazer; you.[optin-monster-shortcode id=”yhoa5oovqd-post”]
Minimalist Living Definition #4 – Thinking smartly and strategically
‘Strategic thinking’ is something that’s usually associated with the business world, as a tool to increase profits, streamline how a company operates and gain competitive advantage.
‘Snooze fest’ you might say, and I hear ya.
But ditching the corporate jargon for a sec, let’s just think about this one. See, if this is a proven way to get the best results in the world of business, then why not apply it to your personal life too (which is infinitely more important)?
From the point of view of minimalist living and leading a happy life, the act of ‘strategic thinking’ takes on a new and more exciting definition:
Strategic thinking is the manner in which people think about, assess, view, and create the future for themselves and others. It’s about thinking creatively and systematically so that you achieve the future you want.
Strategic thinking will help you to act quickly at the right time and in the right way, so that you get the most amazing results from your efforts.
Strategic thinking means always considering the impact of the decisions you make right now upon things in the future.
By thinking strategically about how you can simplify your life, you’ll remain focused on the big picture and you’ll make the right decisions to get you to where you want to be.
You’ll be much more proactive, prepared and ready to take advantage of any opportunities that will help you on your way to a blissfully uncomplicated life.
Minimalist Living Definition #5 – Owning the right stuff
This is super important. Minimalist living isn’t about owning no stuff, it’s about owning the right stuff. I don’t believe in clutter, but equally, I don’t believe in throwing all your shit out.
So for me, minimalist living means owning things that make your life easier.
I’ve read a lot of blogs by people that boast ‘hey, I own less than 50 things’. Big whup.
It’s not about how many things you own but how useful the things you own are. As long as your possessions have a role to play in simplifying your life and getting rid of stress, then it’s all good. In fact, it’s all awesome.
Using this as my guide, I recently hired a big skip and cleared out all the junk and useless items I own. The only things I’ve added back since are items that will help me live a more enjoyable and stress free life.
That’s my take on it, try it out.
Minimalist Living Definition #6 – Building smart lifestyle systems
Your mission here is simple. It’s to reorganize your life so that you remove all the unnecessary time drains, and instead focus your energy on the things that will make you healthier and happier.
By building smart lifestyle systems, you’ll streamline how you live and you’ll enjoy a more focused and optimized life. These systems will help to ‘trim the fat’ from each day and you’ll operate in a leaner and smarter way, saving you time and energy that can be re-injected into the things that are most important (like your personal purpose).
Here are some of the systems I built into my life that have changed things dramatically for me. I’ve become more productive, healthier and happier as a result. Straight up.
- Rising early
- Making exercise inevitable
- Creating an amazing morning routine
- Developing a minimalist home workout
- Grouping tasks and errands together
- Bulk cooking my meals
- Practice daily meditation
- Becoming a vegan
Minimalist Living Definition #7 – Reducing so you have more
There are HUGE benefits to getting rid of stuff you don’t actually need. Seriously, don’t underestimate how freeing this actually is.
By removing excess clutter from your life you lift a massive weight from your shoulders and feel truly liberated.
It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential
– Bruce Lee
Start by carrying out a big cull on your stuff, removing the excess items that you don’t need or haven’t used in long time. This will help you to re-train your brain to enjoy what’s left and appreciate the little things.
Once you’ve achieved this, you can go even further and trim the stuff that remains.
And here’s a a great suggestion that I learned from a minimalist blogger by the name of Beginner Beans. If you’re too scared to chuck all your crap in the garbage in case you need it later, simply create an ‘out box’ in your home. Put the stuff you’re thinking of dumping into it but leave it in the out box for two weeks. If you need it during that time, take it back out. If you don’t, say good bye forever. Nice system, I like it.
Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful
– William Morris
Minimalist Living Definition #8 – Transforming the spaces you inhabit
Here’s a challenge that will absolutely improve your well being and productivity. Why not commit to transforming the space (or spaces) you occupy the most into an amazing oasis of tranquility?
To give you an example, one of my personal goals for 2015 is to transform my home into an ideal physical sanctuary where I can retreat and re-center whenever needed. I’ve been working hard on this by organizing my spaces, decluttering what’s around me and investing in smart items that make my home more beautiful and peaceful.
The results have been astonishing and have really improved my quality of life.
Minimalist Living Definition #9 – Being mindful
Here’s the deal; I recently started to meditate. And let me be honest, I’m still a total newbie. But last month was my best month so far. I meditated 14 times for 5 minutes each session. That’s a total of 1 hour solid meditation for the month.
And that mightn’t sound like much, but let me tell you something. I’ve never been calmer and more collected in my life. It’s absolutely amazing. I find it so much easier to navigate stressful situations in a measured and responsible way. People react differently to me as a result. I’ve become the rock, the unshakable and reliable one that others look to.
A clear, focused and uncluttered mind is at the core of the minimalist living philosophy. Try meditating and you won’t look back. I use the Mindfullness app which will guide you through a 5 minute meditation session – so all you have to do is get comfortable and listen. Highly recommended.
But let me take the concept of being mindful beyond meditating.
Here’s another game changer:
Mindfully complete every task you start.
Try applying this principle to all tasks, no matter how small. If you’re in your kitchen and take something out of its place, mindfully put it back when you’re finished. Mindfully finish everything you begin without exception.
Applying this technique to even the smallest of tasks will help you to retrain your brain so you become more consistent, more deliberate and more intention in all your actions. Plus you’ll have one tidy ass kitchen.
Minimalist Living Definition #10 – Getting back to nature
With the amount of information being hurled at you everyday, it’s never been more important to fully unplug. You need to regularly get away from all of the crazy shit competing for your attention.
And there’s no better way to do this than getting back to nature. Exposure to nature has been shown repeatedly to reduce stress and boost well being. So go for a walk, a run or a cycle somewhere that has trees, grass, greenery and birds singing. All that natural shit. Detox and recharge on the regular.