When it comes to living a minimalist lifestyle, there are no rules or requirements. Everyone implements it in different ways.
However, there are some things which many people who live this lifestyle have in common. I spend time in online minimalist communities and have noticed patterns over time.
Here are 13 things which minimalists don't do.
1. They don't hold back.
Minimalists are willing to see what happens if they reconsider what is supposed to be a necessity. They try cutting things out of their lives - like home internet, a couch, subscriptions, social media, a hair dryer. When this does not go well, the option to reimplement it is always there. More often than not, they learn that they can live without said item. I call this technique 'if it's broken, don't fix it.'
2. They don't let others force things on to them.
A tough part of implementing this lifestyle is dealing with gifts from friends or family. The giver means it as a positive gesture, yet this can be frustrating. Lots of minimalists know that it is important to tell others about your values, in particular, if the change is recent. Do not expect everyone to understand. Know that offence is a common response to a discussion about lifestyle changes. If someone does give you something you don't want or need, always thank them anyway. You are not obliged to keep everything, whoever it is from. There is nothing terrible about donating or giving away a present, even if it feels wrong at first.
3. They don't shy away from emotions.
Without a barrage of logos, trinkets, and sentimental items, it becomes necessary to face up to yourself. If you have not experienced this, it is hard to appreciate how emotional decluttering can be. Minimalists confront their feelings - even when this is painful. It is not easy to disentangle yourself from the layers of possessions which were part of your identity.
4. They don't succumb to the pressures of society.
Trends, whims, and advertising are of little meaning to minimalists. Many focus on their personal style or taste. They buy/own what meets their needs, not what is considered cool. It is common for minimalists to focus on durability in their choices, rather than aesthetics. For example, increasing numbers of minimalists are choosing not to own and to rent instead.
5. They don't try to please everyone.
Minimalists accept that their lifestyle might jar with that of those around them. Instead of worrying about this, they focus on what makes them happy. They know that sometimes negative relationships have to be ended for their own benefit and that this is not selfish.
6. They don't fear scarcity or deprivation.
Most people hold onto countless items due to the classic 'just in case' fallacy. Minimalists know that it is not a disaster to go without - for a short time or for good. We need less than we expect.
7. They don't dwell on the past.
Holding on to sentimental items can restrict you, both mentally and literally. Minimalists know that sometimes it is necessary to let go of mementoes and move forward towards freedom.
8. They don't have a fixed mindset.
Instead, minimalists maintain a growth mindset. They see themselves as a work in progress, always working towards balance in their lives. Every day is a fresh experiment.
9. They don't confuse needs with wants.
It is easy to think that when the urge to buy something appears, this means it should be fulfilled. Minimalists know that this is not always the case. Time and experimentation have taught them to separate the two sorts of desire.
10. They don't expect instant progress.
It takes time to make changes in your lifestyle, though the benefits are worth it. Once the habits are in place, minimalists have enough momentum to keep going. This could be a rapid process, or it could take months or even years. My decluttering process began with a single list, before expanding to almost every area of my life.
11. They don't look for fulfilment in the wrong places.
Minimalists know that stuff won't make them happy. Instead of focusing on fads or pacifiers, they find meaningful work, relationships, and projects. They have more time to make these areas count.
12. They don't make endless pointless decisions.
Analysis paralysis is a real issue and a key part of minimalism is leaving it behind. When you have fewer possessions, small choices melt away and leave more energy for bigger ones. There is less debate about what to wear, or which make-up to use, or what to buy, or where to put stuff.
13. They don't prioritise items over experiences.
On the whole, minimalists prefer to spend money on travel, self-development, and other nonphysical purchases.
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