I used to have it all. Big house, fine jewelry, furniture, cars, things. I had so much stuff. One day, I lost it all, and it made me realize that maybe I didn’t need all that stuff after all. And my journey to a minimalist lifestyle began.
When I hit rock bottom in 2012, suddenly, things meant nothing to me. Survival was most important, and I realized I didn’t need things to survive.
I’m gonna be honest with you. I didn’t even know what minimalism even was. Not a clue. In case you’re wondering, too, here you go.
What is a Minimalist Lifestyle?
What is minimalism?
Have you ever heard the term “less is more”? That’s minimalism in a nutshell. A further explanation would be:
- keeping things simple
- utilizing your space efficiently
- not buying into consumerism (pardon the pun)
- recycling and reusing things we already have
- not having clutter in your space
Now that we know what minimalism is, living a minimalistic life is one of freedom, peace, balanced energy, and a harmonious space without a ton of stuff and clutter.
FYI – hot tip for you! Did you know that clutter causes stress and anxiety? Yup. The more you have, the more stress you have.
How I Became a Minimalist
Remember, I mentioned earlier that I didn’t even know what a minimalist was. I literally thought it was someone who just sold everything and lived like a hermit in a wood cabin.
I know, so naive.
Here’s my story on how I started living minimalist lifestyle quite accidentally, I might add.
Right after I left my abusive relationship, my soul-searching journey began. My life was a mess, and I knew I desperately needed to make some changes. Not just practically but spiritually as well.
In the spring of 2015, I did something I have always wanted to do.
I went on a 3-week volunteer mission trip to a poor little town in Costa Rica. I had no clue what I was getting myself into. I was scared and excited (but mostly scared!). I’m not sure if I needed to see how really poor people lived or if I just needed to step out of my comfort zone.
But off I went
What transpired over the next 3 weeks shocked and surprised me.
I found a town where everyone smiled, no matter what. A town where people really were just happy to have a roof over their heads, a shoddy one at that time, but at least it existed, some food on the table and family to love them and laugh with at the dinner table.
I saw happy people and smiley faces without jewelry and cars and fancy homes. This was foreign to me. How can this be?
After three weeks in and I got it. I finally got it. I finally understood how living a plain simple life was an absolutely beautiful thing.
How I Started My Minimalist Lifestyle
Once I returned from Costa Rica, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I wanted to be around simple happy people who didn’t glorify things. I wanted to be happy like all these people were. I wanted that sweet simple easy life. A simple life where everyone was just happy to be alive. Smiling, loving and simple.
I just needed to figure out how to do that
First, I needed to trade in my hairstyling career for a freelance career. You can find out how I did that by checking out the articles below 👇
and check out this YouTube video here.
So once I figured out how to make money online, the next step was to get rid of all my stuff and live a minimalist lifestyle until I left Canada for Central America.
The task of getting rid of my stuff was long and tedious but so liberating. I got rid of pictures and books and furniture and jewelry and clothes, and, oh man, you name it, it went.
I was on a mission to become a minimalist and live a happy life like all these people. That’s all I wanted. I didn’t want things or stuff anymore. I wanted to go live amongst these amazing happy people.
My Journey to Freedom
I don’t want to make this long, drawn out, and boring so here’s what happened in a nutshell:
- became a freelance writer
- sold, donated, and trashed 95% of my things
- found a small room to rent for awhile
- picked another country to go to
- packed 2 suitcases, bought a one-way ticket, and off I went to
- Guatemala, where I still live to this day
So obviously, a lot more happened than that, but I don’t want to make this all about me (surprise! haha).
It didn’t matter what I had to do to make this happen, I was determined to live a minimalist life and be free, just like the beautiful people in Central America.
What I was really looking forward to was a life of simplicity, ease, freedom, and joy. A life not chained to possessions and ridiculous debt to pay off said possessions.
Creating a Minimalist Lifestyle in Central America
I’ve been in Guatemala for almost 8 years now at the time of my writing this article, and I can proudly say I still don’t have much stuff. I’ve had to buy furniture to move into a new unfurnished apartment recently, but other than that, I’m bare necessities here.
Very few pictures, no clocks, no fancy jewelry, nudda.
I’ve never felt so much freedom in my entire life. Had I known being a minimalist was going to bring about so much friggin joy and freedom, I may have started sooner!
Are minimalists more happy?
I’m gonna have to say a big loud yes to this one. We aren’t weighed down or stressed out by stuff or keeping up with the neighbours or being in debt.
Nothing. We are in full control of our lives, our money, our time, and how we choose to spend our time, which is usually doing things that make us happy!
Now I want to share some simple minimalist tips with you to help you get started on your journey.
13 Minimalist Lifestyle Tips to Help You Get Started
These are most of the things I had to do and go through to get started on my minimalist lifestyle, so I hope they help you. While you might not be able to get through all of them, at least make an attempt.
Starting a minimalist life is not easy and can become quite emotional, terrifying, and exhausting. If you have to go through sentimental items, call a supportive friend to help you.
1 Set aside time to go through your things
Block off time on a calendar like you would a doctor’s appointment and stick to it. Make a commitment to yourself that you are going to at least start! Starting is the hardest part.
Once you get started, you’ll be ok.
2 Start small
You can start with one room, one closet, or even one dresser drawer. Whatever you feel like doing, commit to doing it. You’re probably going to find stuff you haven’t seen, used, or worn in ages! You may even giggle a bit.
It’s important not to overwhelm yourself. Remember what your goal is here. To live a simple minimalist lifestyle so you can be free. Stay focused on that.
3 Get prepared with boxes and bags
Make sure you are fully prepared to start decluttering a room. There’s nothing worse than being in the middle of something, having to stop, and then forgetting to get back to what you were doing. We’ve all done that.
Gather boxes, tape, bags, labels, and whatever else you need to organize the things you are getting rid of. This way, there won’t be too many unwanted distractions.
4 Limit distractions
This is a big job, and it will be overwhelming. The last thing you need is one distraction after another. If you’re too easily distracted, you’ll stop and may never get back to completing this task.
Turn off your phone, put a do not disturb sign on the door, and tell your peeps you’re busy. Do whatever it takes to limit distractions.
5 Prepare your mind, clear your head
You are going to come across things that bring up memories, some good, some bad. Whatever the case may be, make sure you are mentally prepared.
I always tell people it’s a good time to start listening to calming zen music or even meditate prior if you have to, but whatever it takes, make sure you are ready for this. You’re going to be getting rid of things you have held on to most of your life.
That takes a lot of courage.
6 Release attachment to things
Don’t cling to that old picture Aunt Betty gave you when you were 14. It’s covered in dust and cobwebs, so what does that tell you? So many of us hang on to old sentimental things, yet we have them packed away so deep we don’t even ever see them anymore.
What’s the point? Aunt Betty is dead. She won’t mind if you toss it. Don’t be so attached to your things. They’re all just things.
7 Remind yourself why you’re doing this
You are doing all this because you want to start living a minimalist lifestyle and have that life of freedom, peace, joy, and harmony. You will have to remind yourself often.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of “Oh, I’ll just keep this one thing,” and the next thing you know, you haven’t got rid of anything. Don’t do that. Stay focused. Remember your why.
8 Use the check and chuck method
This is actually kinda fun and super simple. When you pick up an item, check your feelings. Do you feel anything, nothing, icky, angry? If you have any negative, toxic, or void emotions about an item, it gets chucked.
No matter what. It’s the one you have warm fuzzy feelings about that will be hard to get rid of.
9 Minimize your space
If your spouse just died or you are recently divorced, you may find that your house is too big for you. It’s ok to put that baby on the market, sell it and downsize.
So many women are doing that these days and feeling so much freer than they ever have in their lives. I know this is the home you raised your children in and lived your whole adult life in, but you will hold on to those memories forever. You don’t need to hold on to the house.
Let someone else create memories in it now.
10 Curb your spending
Stop buying stuff you don’t need!! Period. There’s nothing more to say here.
11 Start a savings account
If you don’t have one, now’s the time to start, and you can start small by putting $10 a week in, then $25 a week, or whatever. You can make this a savings account so you can travel more! Future bucket list trips.
12 Create a budget
Find out where your money is going. Most of us spend money on things we absolutely don’t need. Find a good budget tracker app and start keeping track of every penny spent.
You’ll be surprised to find out that you are probably wasting a lot of money on things you don’t even need, want or use anymore.
13 Find things to do that bring you joy
So many of us think things and money bring us joy and happiness, but nothing could be further from the truth. When we start getting rid of our things and embark on a minimalist lifestyle, we will want to fill our time and days with things that bring us joy.
Go volunteer, pet a puppy, visit a senior’s home, go hiking, road tripping, whatever. Find things that make you happy!!
Is a Minimalism For Everyone?
I’m not saying you have to sell all your stuff and move to a third-world country (but it sure is an eye-opener). What I did was bold and ballsy. Not for the faint of heart.
So is living a minimalist life for everyone? I believe, yes, it can be. Maybe not to the extreme that I created, but certainly, it is attainable by all. If you want it, that is.
You can start small. You don’t have to get rid of all your stuff like I did. Maybe just start getting rid of the stuff that means nothing and weighs you down.
You could hold a yard sale and get rid of this stuff OR you can donate it to shelters or other organizations that will accept gently used items.
Joshua Becker is the king and guru of living an extreme minimalist lifestyle. You might enjoy this video from him. If you are thinking about becoming a minimalist, I suggest you subscribe to his channel to learn more.
(This article contains affiliate links so if you make a purchase I may make a small commission –my disclosure is here)
You might also really enjoy this book “Minimalism Room by Room:
How Do I Start a Minimalist Life
Sadly, most people don’t even know how to begin living a minimalist lifestyle. I didn’t know where to begin. It was overwhelming and stressful, and I remember being full of anxiety and fear.
Oy. I was a mess, to be honest.
I can’t remember how many times I wanted to throw up. I asked myself over and over again, “Do you know what you’re doing? Are you sure you want to do this?”
So many questions, but honestly, I just took a big deep breath and made the decision to start and do it.
Things Don’t Make You Happy
Remember, your stuff doesn’t validate you or make you happy.
Things (our stuff) are band-aids we put on our unhappiness wounds because they cause temporary happiness and seal the wound. You could spend your entire life buying happiness band-aids, or you can heal yourself from your wounds and get rid of the things (and people) that weigh you down.
The choice is yours.
Also, keep in mind once you start selling your things or downsizing your living space, how much money you will save!! Woot!! That in itself is amazing. You could go on mission trips too then!! Or just go on trips, period.
Go live life. Go do things. Go be free!!!
Peace and Love