Legit Benefits Of Minimalism And Living With LessNov 07, 2023
The house is a mess, the bank account is running low, the stress is keeping you up at night, and you have a million things on your to-do list. Sound familiar?
I’m sure you’ve looked up 101 ways to get your life on track by now, and there’s a good chance a minimalist lifestyle didn’t make the cut–minimalism helps you to have less junk in your life, right?
That may be true, but I’m willing to bet you aren’t aware of the other life-changing benefits of minimalism and clutter-free living.
You may not be aware of this, but our environments are incredibly powerful. In fact, Dan Buettner writes in his book Bluezones, based on a study of longevity and happiness analyzing billions of data worth of research worldwide, that:
“Your environment, where you live or how you shape your surroundings, is the biggest, most important and most impactful thing you can do to favor your own happiness.”Dan Buettner- Bluezones
Creating a home environment that breeds clarity, breathability, and inspiration is obviously going to make a huge impact on your daily energy and happiness. But what about minimalism, specifically?
Well, while the definition and level of minimalism a person chooses to practice will vary (you can see a breakdown of exactly what minimalism means as a lifestyle here), there are some general, across-the-board benefits and advantages that most practicing minimalists will attest to.
Today, I’m sharing a broad look at the wide-reaching benefits you will gain through clutter-free living.
#1. You Will Have More Money
Any way you look at it, you’re going to have more pocket padding. Practicing minimalism clears the clog in your financial artery – your clutter. Not only that, but you’ll also see your financial health improving in other ways.
👉 You might gain a fabulous new income stream
This year, I sold enough of my things to pay for a new couch. Not a dingy, used couch, but a 4-piece sectional, wanna-dive-into-these-fabulous-pillows couch.
And I’ve been practicing holistic clutter-free living for years now (I didn’t even think I had enough stuff to sell)! Imagine what you could do if you’re rolling in the clutter! I’m just saying, those bins of who-knows-what in your garage could be crowding your wallet instead.
👉 You won’t shop as much
Living a minimalist lifestyle doesn’t mean that you never need anything. It doesn’t mean that the sweet Prime delivery of an Amazon box never darkens your doorway. But when you become intentional about your belongings you’re not buying frivolous ‘stuff’.
Honestly, you stop wanting to. You won’t be able to help yourself from thinking, “hmmm, where would I even put that?”
Trust me, when you take on this approach to life (and shopping) you will find yourself the proud owner of more monies in your checking account and less crap in your living room.
👉 Your new mindset will result in passive savings.
Just like any other area of focused improvement, minimalism is a mindset shift. When you decide to get healthy it requires you to change the way you think about food and exercise. Since minimalism has a strong emphasis on prioritization, it naturally continues into other areas of your life.
So, maybe you used to toss random things into the cart but now you’re thinking about your fridge space and all of the previous times you bought (and wasted) tortillas. Sure they sound good now, but maybe you’re just not a tortilla person.
#2. Less Stress And Overwhelm
I feel like this is an obvious one, but maybe you aren’t aware of the numerous studies linking clutter (and debt) to stress. One of the major benefits of minimalism is the stress and overwhelm it relieves.
I go into more detail on this in ‘The Psychological Effects Of Clutter’, but let’s take a look.
👉 Studies show an increase in stress hormones
One recent study at UCLA shows a direct correlation between spiked cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and clutter. The study referenced mothers as having a cortisol spike while dealing with belongings.
To amplify that, Dr. Rick Hanson, author of ‘Hardwiring Happiness’, explains how frequent spikes in cortisol can result in structural brain changes that actually cause long-term sensitivity to stress.
The mind–> changes the brain–> changes the mind. So, experiencing frequent stress when dealing with belongings can cause you to experience long-term stress in all areas.
👉 Chaotic environments cause tension
You wake up in a good mood – fixing your coffee, pouring your Fruity Pebbles, when a grumpy family member enters the room and your day is ruined. Tension is contagious.
So, when one person can’t find the tape, or the tweezers, or the keys, the whole temperament of the home is at stake. However, when the home is clutter-free (i.e., nobody is stubbing their toes and losing their stuff in the clutter), family tension amazingly decreases. It’s like magic.
This is HUGE and it’s exactly why I teach a holistic approach to clutter-free living. If you’re in the throes of getting the clutter out then I highly recommend checking out my free masterclass, ‘The Holistic Clutter-Free Formula‘.
#3. Your Home Will Be Easier To Clean
I’ve seen a meme that simply said: “Minimalism. Because I hate to clean.” Now, minimalism itself is not about cleaning. You can be a messy minimalist. But the fact is that without clutter, cleaning is a breeze.
- fewer things to pick up and put away
- less hidden dust or concealed spills
- no trapped moisture that leads to mildew and mold
- vacuuming can be done without a moving party
- fewer spiderwebs
#4. You Can Reap The Health Benefits!
I’ve spoken to doctors and practitioners who use ‘environment’ as a pillar to their holistic practice because your space so clearly impacts your health. Let’s run down the daunting list of how clutter impacts your health and how having less stuff remedies this.
👉 Remember the stress I mentioned? It damages your health
Stress has its place for sure. If I see a sharp-toothed beast in the wild then I welcome that stress response. However, our home sanctuary should not be one of those places. I’m sure you’ve heard of these damaging health effects of long-term stress:
- high blood pressure
- headaches and insomnia
- heartburn and digestive issues
- heart attacks and rapid heart rates
- libido and fertility problems
- rapid breathing and poor oxygenation
- muscle tension
👉 Clutter makes you sick
In short, clutter makes you sick. Let’s say you have a massively cluttered shelf. In order to clean that shelf thoroughly, you have to move all of the picture frames, tiny statues of frogs or praying angels, decorative boxes that are only big enough to hold 3 things, and – I don’t know – maybe extra nickels.
It’s a lot of work. So, it probably doesn’t get done very often. Underneath all of those adorable tiny items is a thick layer of dust. And it’s not even fairy dust! It’s old human skin dust with millions of dust mites.
Those microscopic creatures are the most common cause of year-round allergies and asthma attacks. No biggie, they just affect your ability to take in oxygen – our single most precious resource as humans.
Let’s talk kitchen. This is where you handle your raw chicken and grease. Adding clutter to this area is a recipe for some major illnesses like salmonella and E. coli. In a nutshell, here are some potential health risks of clutter that you could avoid altogether by being clutter-free:
- Bacterial infections
- Respiratory issues
#5. Minimalism Helps The Environment
I like the Earth. It’s a pretty tight place. Most of it is beautiful and amazingly diverse. And we get to share it. Hi neighbor! So, regardless of your political or religious beliefs, we should all be able to agree to have a healthy respect for our place here.
👉 Less clutter in our homes means less waste in our landfills
Less junk means less…umm, junk.
Because you’re not throwing out as much. Those old hairdryers and broken bread makers and stained purses aren’t being recycled. They’re being landfilled along with everyone else’s not-so-biodegradable junk.
Just think, if these things aren’t degrading, and billions of humans are contributing to these landfills every day, how much space will our junk take up in the future? Will we be the cause of that?
One of the benefits of minimalism is that you’re conscious of what you consume. You aren’t collecting stuff for non-reasons like boredom. I have a whole podcast episode on the truth about being wasteful.
👉 Clutter-free living helps us to become less invasive
All of the things that you own take up space. Our belongings share this environment with us. If you own so much crap that it won’t all fit in your home and it’s extending to your garage, your yard, your friends’ and families’ homes, and the storage facility down the street, then your footprint is becoming Sasquatch-size.
#6. Productivity Soars When You Practice Minimalism
Look around your room right now. Make a mental note of each item you see around the room. Try to catch them all – like Pokemon.
Each belonging that you own requires something of you. It requires your time, your money, your energy to care for it, and your focus if it’s in your visual field.
“Multiple stimuli present in the visual field at the same time compete for neural representation by mutually suppressing their evoked activity throughout visual cortex, providing a neural correlate for the limited processing capacity of the visual system.”
👉 Clutter competes for our brain’s resources
You know when you’re writing an in-depth amazing article and right in the middle of an analogy you get distracted by a tree branch you see through the window? No, just me?
Well, everything in our visual field is constantly being interpreted and perceived. This means that everything in your line of sight is a potential distraction. If you have 50 things on your desk the distraction potential is amplified.
👉 Tidying leads to procrastination
Moving things from your workspace before beginning a project is a major obstacle to your productivity. That increases the activation effort (effort needed to get started) which is the biggest reason for procrastination!
We all know when there’s a big project due the house looks its best. It’s a domino effect. You start by moving one thing, then another. Before you know it, your entire house is spotless and your big project is hearing crickets.
#7. You Can Own Higher-Quality Things When You Don’t Have As Much ‘Stuff’
Minimalism is not about owning crappy things, it’s about owning fewer things. Ironically, if you own fewer things, you have more money and space for higher quality.
👉 It highlights the high-quality items you already have
If you declutter your closet and get rid of the items that block your view, you’re left with just the clothing that you love and feel great in. Your quality metrics skyrocket in your wardrobe! This is true everywhere in your home. You may have some really nice things that nobody can see.
👉 You will buy higher quality
I used to be a super bargain shopper. I would get this elated feeling toting in my garbage bag full of thrift finds. Some of it would never get worn, but that was fine because “it was such a good deal.”
You can buy 20 shirts that are “a good deal” or you can buy a handful of shirts that are your new favorites. Things that you can wear over and over and still love. Not that you have to spend more money for better quality, but you have the option to. And the same is true for anything else you buy. Artwork. Lamps. Groceries.
I used to think that high-quality organic foods were only for rich people. At the same time, I was spending $300 per shopping trip and bringing home so much junk. Sometimes I would get extra because of a special deal and the food would go bad before we could even eat it. Now I try to get higher quality foods without the fillers. I mean, we get our special treats but it isn’t random specials to fill the cart.
#8. Practicing Minimalism Can Help Others
What an interesting thought that being intentional about your belongings helps others! Here are a few ways that that’s true.
👉 Others will learn from your lifestyle
Social change always starts with a few people. Others will see you living a more peaceful, energetic life and will pick up on that energy. That small pay-it-forward impression could greatly improve that person’s life – you never know your reach.
If you’re a parent, your kids are learning from you constantly. (If you always wanted to be the center of attention, well now you got it!). You can quite literally shape the future by helping your kids learn to make good decisions.
Better decision-makers = less apathy in society. I have a whole article on how minimalism is specifically great for kids, but the gist is that it helps develop creative, charismatic, decisive, and gracious humans without entitlement.
👉 Donating unused items helps people in real need
When you dive into the decluttering process you’ll find so many things to donate. Even after practicing minimalism, you’ll inevitably find that you grow out of things and hobbies. Giving and donating are never a waste.
👉 Your kids will have less stuff to go through when you’re gone
There’s a big movement called the “Swedish death sweep”. The idea is that when you pass away, your children or family will have to go through all of your belongings. Every. Single. Thing. Just think about that for a second. So, many people are taking a proactive approach to clear the clutter and save their families the hassle.
👉 Your loved ones will benefit from your new priorities, time, and energy
When your home is in order and you have your priorities super straight, your energy is noticeable. Your family, friends, and pets are going to be so happy to not be getting your leftover seconds anymore.
👉 The world will benefit from your focus and contributions
What would you do or create if you had all of the time, energy, and focus necessary? That’s the kind of thing that will impact the world. The world needs your gifts and you can’t give them if you’re always running on empty.
#9. There Is Sweet, Sweet Freedom With Less Stuff
And finally…freeeeedommm. There’s an unexplainable freeing sensation in letting go of things that are weighing you down. Like “ah, I can rest here.” It’s a real thing.
This freeing sensation is partly from the loss of visual and mental overwhelm and partly from the dopamine release (the happy hormone) that comes when we check something off a list. If each cluttered item was like a box to check, you would be stacking the happiness chips.
Our belongings weigh us down in one way or another. We are responsible for them. If we move, we have to rehome them or choose to trash them. If we travel we have to decide what needs to be tended to while we’re away.
The fewer things we have to worry about or tend to, the freer we actually are. Find freedom in reduction!
Let’s Break It Down Now!
Here are 9 no fluff benefits of minimalism – no matter who you are!
- You will have more money.
- Less stress and overwhelm.
- Your home will be easier to clean.
- There are major health benefits of minimalism.
- The environmental benefits of minimalism are huge.
- Productivity soars when you practice minimalism.
- You can own higher-quality things when you don’t have as much.
- Minimalism can actually help others through you.
- There is sweet sweet freedom with less stuff.
So there you have it! I would love to make this a 2-way conversation. Tell me in the comments – which of these benefits would impact you the most right now?