Yvette Morrissey is a journalist, yogi, solo-female traveler and ex-travel agent from New Zealand. In 2016, Yvette found herself single, broke, and overworked, so she sold all her possessions and moved to Canada. She blogs about her worldwide travels at WayfaringKiwi.com while promoting a minimalist and sustainable lifestyle. This summer, she is living in her van and traveling around Canada.
If there is one thing that travel has taught me, it is that living a minimalist life is pretty awesome. Before I decided quit my old life and travel the world, I had a LOT of stuff. In order to do this, I had to get rid of all of it.
Goodbye clothes, adios furniture, au revoir hair straighteners (yes, seriously). Once I was finished minimizing my life, I was left with a small box of mementos I stored at home, and two suitcases filled with my bare essentials. After 27 years on this earth, these were my only possessions. Initially this was scary, but it was also the most freedom-inducing sensation I’ve ever experienced.
A Common Misconception About Minimalism
Don’t freak out thinking that in order to be a minimalist you have to squeeze all your possessions into a suitcase. Minimalist lifestyles range from person to person. Some people sleep on a mattress in a room and own one set of clothing, others can have a house full of items but an empty garage. How far you want to go is entirely up to you. You are totally allowed to have stuff!
The Benefits of Minimalism
The benefits of living a minimalist life are vast, but here are my favorites:
You will carry less weight both physically and symbolically
It is surprising to discover that once you remove the excess from your life, how much lighter you feel. Imagine walking into a messy house after a long day at the office. Close your eyes and really think about it. Now imagine coming home to a clean, organized house.
Which house sounds more relaxing to you? My guess is the latter!
You will have more time to do fun stuff
Having fewer possessions means you have less things to clean; having to spend less time cleaning means you will have more time to do the things you would rather do.
Having less prevents you from wasting your time and enables you to focus on what you should be doing, such as working towards your personal and career goals, or spending time with friends and family.
You will have more money to spend on amazing experiences
Picture this: you’re lying on your deathbed and thinking about the life you’ve lived. Are you thinking about A) that time you bought the latest iPad and how it made you feel or B) that time you watched the sunset in Hawaii, wrapped in your lover’s arms?
I can’t speak for anyone else, but I know that my favorite memories are of holidays, nights out with friends, and spending time with my animals; they are not of unpacking my newest gadget, going shopping, or procrastinating on Facebook.
Selling or giving away items you do not require in your life will help you to save money to spend on creating memories. You will also spend less so you will be able to spend that money on experiences.
How To Minimize Your Life In 3 Simple Ways
1. Ask yourself this question (a lot)
Giving up everything I had worked over 10 years for was hard work. The only way I did it was by asking myself this: ‘What is more important, this dress/book/necklace or traveling the world?’
Traveling always came out on top. You can apply this question to anything- you can change the circumstances to suit your needs, for example ‘What is more important [item] or spending time with friends/playing the guitar’ etc.
You can also ask yourself this to further reduce your possessions: If I had to keep item a or b, which would I choose? Eliminate the losers, and eventually you will be living a much simpler, minimalist lifestyle!
2. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
We live in a world where excess is everything. We are constantly being told to upgrade our phones, our clothes, and our lives. If you think about it, a lot of material items have a social expiry. We are told to upgrade to the latest version of the iPhone even if we already have a mobile phone that fulfills our needs. Why? Because companies need to continue making money. They do not want to sell you one item that you can use for the rest of your life. That’s just bad business.
Thrift stores are a wondrous place; I have purchased some of my favorite items from thrift stores. One of the goals of minimalism is to combat this materialism. By shopping at thrift stores, you contribute to this by reusing something that still has plenty of use.
3. Buy high quality items
Spend that extra bit of money and buy items that are going to serve you long term. It is far better to buy one pair of, say, good quality hiking boots than it is to buy three cheaper versions. This will save you money in the long term too.
What are your thoughts on minimalism? Have you tried following a minimalist lifestyle, or even just decluttering your house recently? Share any tips or questions below!