How to minimise your life – and increase your happiness

Does your life – and mind – feel cluttered? Find out how to minimise your life, and increase your happiness. 

Since mass production and advertising were invented, most of us have been wired to believe that having ‘stuff’ is good. And indeed it can be; stuff can be fun, fulfilling and even necessary.

But sometimes we get our wants and needs mixed up, especially when buying bigger and better gives us a buzz. And when we have too much, it can get complicated – not to mention expensive!

Constantly striving for the latest smartphone, designer shades, espresso machine, or whatever it is we’ve got our eye on next, makes us stressed and the attachment weighs us down. We get into the habit of looking outside ourselves for happiness, rather than finding it within.

How a more minimal life can increase your happiness

Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Millburn grew up searching for the American Dream. They eventually hit the jackpot with prestigious corporate jobs, nice cars and big houses – the  ultimate lifestyle, the envy of all. But instead of being content, they found that materialism gave them little more than stress, depression and debt.

Joshua realised something needed to change. Then he discovered minimalism; living intentionally with only what you need.

He saw that many of the possessions he’d accumulated served no purpose at all, so he took drastic action, and ditched them. You might think that’s a bit extreme, but Joshua’s friends and colleagues started noticing a difference in him; he seemed much calmer and more focused, and they wanted to know his secret.

Around the same time, Ryan, Joshua’s childhood friend, started asking the same question and soon followed suit, getting rid of anything that offered no value. What resulted was freedom. In their words; “Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around.”

The pair launched a blog not long after and so, The Minimalists was born. Today they spread their message of simple living through touring, books and podcasts.

How can you minimalise your life?

If you want try minimalising your stuff, start with these simple steps. Go through each room and examine the items one by one. Ask yourself: “Does this do anything for me?” And: “Does it bring me joy in any way?” If it’s a resounding “No”, then put it into either a donate, sell or bin pile and wave goodbye to them forever.

Minimalising doesn’t have to stop there. It can be effective in many aspects of our lives. Here are four minimalism ideas you might like to put into action.

1) Minimalise your money

Stop buying so much stuff and watch the pennies go piling back into your bank account. This is a huge bonus of course, but if you cut back on unnecessary bills andsearch for better deals too, you could save a whole lot more. Minimalising makes you richer!

2) Minimalise your mind

When we get rid of excess things, there’s less to worry about. We have less responsibilities: less to clean, less to look after, less to insure.

Clearing our mind clutter gives us space for more important thoughts like our health, wellbeing, and how our choices affect us, other people and ultimately the welfare of the planet. It makes us selfless.

3) Minimalise your environment

We all know the impact of waste on the environment, and that on its own is a good enough reason to stop acquiring more stuff. Recycling and upcycling are great ways to be sustainable and with Internet sites such as, creative ways of re-using items we would normally throw away is now a firm part of modern culture.

4) Minimalise your relationships

Social media is enriching, rewarding and fun. But when you find yourself checking your phone every second, then it’s time for a break.

Keeping up with feeds, managing posts and building communities takes up a lot of precious time and can be emotionally draining (no likes for your last post? WHY?!). Try putting away your devices for a day and replace online interactions with personal ones – and enjoy some freed up time.

Are you ready to de-clutter your life?

Joshua Fields Millburn says “Minimalism is not the path and it’s certainly not the destination. It is simply a tool that gets rid of the excess stuff that’s cluttering the path.” Ultimately you will get really good at knowing precisely what you want in life – and that skill is worth more than any ‘stuff’.

Sue Pickford works for Intouch Accounting, the expert contractor accountancy firm for Limited Company contractors.

Photo by Khai Sze Ong