Mindful living can come in many forms. Mindful breathing, awareness of emotions, being mindful with words, being mindful with how you spend your time, the list goes on and on. But I didn’t even know what mindfulness was when I realized that my life was crap and I had all the power to change that.
Mindful living and a minimalist lifestyle aren’t all that different from each other.
What I find most surprising about mindfulness and minimalism is how well the play off of each other. Each are great tools that work together in harmony to help us create simpler, more intentional lives full of potential and purpose.
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My story with minimalism and mindful living
A little back story: In 2015 I had a pivotal moment. I was finally recovering from a severe illness (that turned out to be stressed caused funnily enough), I had quit school (which sent me into a whirlwind of panic), and for the first time in my life I was breaking the mold of what was expected of me. All those were great, but! (there’s always a but, isn’t there?) I was still so overwhelmed, stressed, and frustrated.
While looking on the glorious Pinterest one day I saw an article about minimalism which sparked a deep plunge into a rabbit hole full of decluttering tips, minimalist lifestyle, financial well being and much, much more. I was hooked. I was going to be a minimalist.
Fast forward to the present, I’m still a minimalist. I’ve had ups and downs with it over the years, and struggled here and there but over all it has been the best change for me…ever.
And as the years have past, I have continued to grow. I’ve made the physical space in my life for the things that matter more to me and have learned much more about mindfulness and it’s importance to our every day lives.
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Mindful Consumerism is Minimalism
Being a conscious consumer, mindful shopper, whatever you want to call it is minimalism at its base. Being aware of what are you are choosing to buy and WHY you’re choosing to buy it keeps you heading along the right path for your purpose.
We shouldn’t buy things just to buy things. As a former retail therapy addict, I can attest to the fact that stuff will not make us happy. If it would, our hearts would be as full as our closets and as stuffed as our apartments.
What is Mindfulness + how it can improve your life
With minimalism and mindfulness you are essentially working to get to know yourself better. You learn what your priorities truly are (and what you really want them to be) and you figure out what is important to you. Is it important to you to be an ethical shopper or a green shopper? Maybe you find your passion to travel the world. Ask what your main priority is. Is it your social life? Your career? Your dog? Are you utilizing your time and money in a way that is beneficial for the things that matter most to you?
Mindfulness helps you acknowledge all of these things through self-awareness, self-examination, and through time. Minimalism shows you these same things through the same methods. Essentially, minimalism and mindfulness are all about asking yourself why? And yes, sometimes your why for doing something is just because you want to. Both require you to be honest with yourself and trust me, it’s harder than you’d think to start being truly honest with yourself.
Both mindfulness and minimalism show you what you prioritize and help you put those priorities in order.
Of course, when you hear of making space you probably immediately think “minimalism, decluttering, etc”. And you’re right. But minimalism is also about making space in your schedule, in your mind, and in other intangible areas (the cloud, spirituality, goals, etc). Making space is designed to help you cut through that confusing excess chatter that does nothing but distract and steal your attention away from the things that matter to you.
Through both mindfulness and minimalism you reduce clutter from your past that’s dragging you down and install good coping skills to prevent more clutter in the future. This helps you have more time, energy, and space to focus on your present space: both mental and physical.
Get to know yourself while decluttering – are you holding on to things out of guilt, painful memories, etc. Figure out what memories truly hold value to you. Learn what you value from your material possessions and your life. Besides living in a cleaner space, when you declutter you’ll find yourself in a clearer head space too. Things flow easier; thoughts and projects aren’t as weighed down by misery or excess. To create a life that you love to wake up to, you have to heal from and get rid of the stuff that makes your feel the opposite.
Mindfulness benefits from the physical making space of minimalism too. When there is less clutter around you, you have more time (and fewer excuses) to look at yourself. You have fewer reasons to stop ignoring yourself and begin that uncomfortable growing process. And when we are truly mindful and impassioned to find our purpose in life, we refuse to allow things to take up time, space, or our minds if they don’t align with what we want from life.
Keeping up with the Jones’ never works. They always have something new and shiny and quite honestly unneeded. Over time we realize that the Jones’ aren’t actually happy buying all these new things or they wouldn’t constantly be in search of the newer things. By figuring out what you truly love and need and actually like you’ll find that you’re actually happier.
Through minimalism we see that the Jones’ are broke. And through mindful living, we see that they’re miserable. Through both lifestyles we realize that we don’t want to be like the Jones’, we want to be like ourselves.
By practicing mindfulness, you notice something interesting about comparison. Comparing yourself is like a flamingo comparing itself to a peacock. Both are beautiful, vibrant birds but in very different ways. Wishing you were something or someone else does nothing except hide the world from a beautiful gift.
We are not what we have, our money, our pasts, what we do, or our emotions. Thinking that these influencers are better than you because of what they have, look like, are doing, or are promoting doesn’t make them better than you. If anyone is promoting that mentality, well, they’re simply full of shit. Comparing yourself to others is the death of all joy. You are enough just as you are and you have your own unique qualities and perspective to bring to the world.
Minimalism teaches you to appreciate what you have and be conscious of bringing more in. It’s job is to limit the clutter to allow you to enjoy more of mindful living. Like avoiding those comparisons, mindfulness teaches you to like what you like without the judgement of yourself or others.
Each tool teaches you the importance of gratitude and each is founded in the thought that you possess everything you need to be happy already. With gratitude you open yourself up to all the wonders of the world and are able to see it clearly without a mindset of lack. Minimalism teaches us that you aren’t lacking anything and mindful living is there to keep you aware of your blessings.
When there is space, you are more aware of how much you have, how wonderful those things are, and how good your life really is.
And it doesn’t matter how big or small the things you express gratitude for are. Because when you’re grateful, you find out that every small thing is part of a bigger part of your happiness.
Some small things to be grateful for
- beautiful weather
- a tasty meal
- a refreshing glass of water
- a sweet text from a friend
- singing birds in the morning
- taking your bra off after a long day (girl, you know how great this is).
After all, life is built up of small moments. The big events aren’t as big in the grand scheme of things when life is full of the small and pretty things.
Through mindful living and minimalism we remember the importance of slowing down and actually enjoying the things the world has to offer us. We recognize the small things, the tiny blessings which add to our overall feeling of contentment.
And if we learn anything from both its that our mental and physical health can benefit from slowing the fuck down. Despite what we may try to do, we cannot thrive on coffee, 4 hours of sleep, and a constant state of stress and near mental breakdowns. Honestly, we can’t really survive on that either so idk why we think we can thrive. Minimalism and mindfulness remind us that we matter and that there actually is time and space for us to slow down, take a breath, and even to take a nap.
And slowing down in a world obsessed with speed can seem scary. But what’s scarier to me is finally being forced to slow down (due to age or illness) and realizing our whole lives past us by without being able to be truly present.
Did you know that there used to be no plural way to say “priority”. Meaning, in the past it was only possible to have ONE priority. I personally think that that’s probably never going to happen again but it is good food for thought. Somewhere along the line, we have told ourselves that we have priorities. And for many of us, everything under the sun becomes a priority.
Minimal and mindful living encourage us to have fewer priorities. We learn that we should not take on every responsibility and/or expectation but only the ones we need and enjoy to take on.
This is for 3 reasons.
- Because taking on everything sucks.
- We are not miracle workers and can only do so much. And it is better to do less better than more half-assed.
- We do NOT exist to work, pay bills, and be stressed. We exist to live, to enjoy, to grow…
Refusal to Hold onto things
Grudges, anger, hurt feelings, and clutter….there’s no real reason to hold onto any of it. And yet, a lot of us do. Minimalism and mindful living revolve around letting things go to get to a better place in life. There’s no need to hold onto that old shirt that never fit quite right, nor is there any reason to hold onto limiting beliefs that hold you back from your full potential.
And by the same token, mindfulness helps us heal from our pasts and let go of all that should be left there. Moving forward becomes easier when we are aware of what’s holding us back and conscious of letting it go.
With both we learn to let go of the past and heal. We let go of our “what if” fears. And we let go of our limiting beliefs and unreasonable expectations for ourselves. (Really, if you hate that those jeans don’t fit but you’re keeping them until you get back to your original weight, girl, let that go. First of all, you’ll never be back to your original weight (6 lbs, 10oz is a bit unreasonable, don’t you think?), second, why are you making yourself miserable over it?) Mindfulness and minimalism teach us to let go of all the things that hold us down or drown us in chaos. They are designed to clear the path ahead and calm the storm.
If all the things above have anything in common, it is this last point. Being aware of yourself, what you’re doing, what you’re buying, and what you’re holding onto.
The simplest definition I can think of for mindfulness is “being self-aware”.
Minimalism I’d define as “awareness of your environment and choosing only the most important things to take up your time, money, + energy”.
Both of these definitions revolve around awareness. One is just more tangible than the other but both create a life of calm, space, and intent.
We become aware of our thoughts more with mindfulness. We become aware of our “stuff” holding us back. As humans, I think we often become aware at some point in our lives of how badly we crave freedom. Freedom from the rat race, our pasts, and our responsibilities. While we can’t erase the past or neglect all our true responsibilities, we can guide the variables like our thoughts and stuff to lessen the load.
Over all, minimalism and mindful living play well off of each other. They have a good symbiotic relationship that’s designed to help you live a life of purpose, clarity, and intentionality.
By applying elements of both into your everyday life you set yourself up for a life of joy, simplicity, and purpose. If you need more information about how both can benefit you, join our email list! Not only will you receive a FREE mindfulness guide, but also get weekly tips and musings on mindfulness + minimalism.