Going minimal has to do with simplifying your life, having less “stuff,” and creating more time and opportunity. From where you are, if you look around you, you will likely be able to see dozens of items that you enjoy and appreciate, but that you could absolutely live without. Going minimal has to do with getting rid of these things, as well as those that maybe aren’t so dear to you but you have kept for other reasons. The result is less clutter in your life, less responsibility for “things,” and more time in your schedule.
If that sounds unlikely, read on to learn seven reasons you should go minimal:
Reason #1: You’ll Save Money
We live in a consumer-driven society. Even when we are actively engaged in the act of buying something, someone is trying to sell us more (“Would you like to up-size your order?” “People who bought this item also bought XYZ item.”) All that stuff costs real money. Saying “no” to more things is saying “yes” to more money in your wallet. And that doesn’t even take into consideration things like insurance (to protect the stuff you already bought) or maintenance (to keep the stuff you bought working properly).
Reason #2: You’ll Be Less Stressed Out
The way that we buy things today isn’t just about plunking down a chunk of change and walking away with our purchase. Instead, we tend to use a lot of credit. That means that you can continue paying for that $100 item for months or years as you make credit card payments. Every single month that you have to worry about making that bill adds considerably to your stress level.
Reason #3: You’ll Have More Time
How much time do you spend taking care of your stuff? Taking the car in for an oil change takes at least an hour. And what about the time you spend cleaning up your stuff—constantly putting the same things away over and over again? Going minimal means that you have less stuff to take care of and therefore, more time. In fact, you’ll even save the time you were previously spending while shopping for the stuff!
Reason #4: You’ll Be Healthier
Our modern world is full of “conveniences” that aren’t always all that convenient in the long run. Consider the fact that certain plastics have been found to contain cancer-causing chemicals. Less stuff in your life means less exposure to the things you really don’t want around anyway…such as carcinogens. Additionally, the time and money you’re saving can allow for healthier food and time to engage in physical activity.
Reason #5: You’ll Connect with People Better
Much of the time, our stuff is really a means to protect ourselves. We may buy things to fill in a void caused by loneliness or a perceived lack on our part. Going minimal removes some of these barriers between ourselves and others and allows us to focus on the important aspects of relationships rather than constantly having our attention distracted by our possessions or our desire for more possessions.
Reason #6: It’s Better for Others
Better for the “environment” doesn’t only refer to ecology, but also to the lives of others around the world. As you go minimal, you begin to understand what an impact all your stuff can have. For example, you may be considering the landfill space needed to dispose of your stuff when you’re done with it or thinking about the dignity of those who don’t have what they need to survive, let alone being in a position to consider whether or not they should go minimal.
Reason #7: It’s Liberating
When you go minimal, you actually free up your own options. Remember how you have to insure all your stuff? Well, that’s just part of the equation. You also have to worry about it, to protect it. When you want to go out of town, you have to arrange for someone to look after your stuff. You may own your things, but in a lot of ways, they own a fair amount of real estate in your head. The more you have, the more you feel like you have to lose.
Being creative isn’t just about painting a picture or writing a story. It has to do with how we solve problems, interact with others, and even how we nourish our own spirits. Whether you want to increase your current level of creativity or just to find more direction and focus for it, using this plan can help you tap into your creative mind to do new things and make discoveries on a daily basis.
Each day, find a few minutes to simply be still. We have so many thoughts racing through our minds that they often compete with one another for our attention. Giving yourself permission to simply be still allows for those thoughts to quiet long enough to regain some mental energy. How many times have you been looking for a solution to a problem, only to have it pop into your head when you were doing something entirely different? Being still allows your subconscious to work through thoughts and ideas without the stress of actively trying to come up with an idea. Try meditation or simply reading a book for a few minutes a day in order to relax.
Look for Alternatives
There are many ways to perform a task. Even if you know the “right” way to do something, challenge yourself and cultivate your creativity by looking for alternatives. Just because you always drive a certain way to work or school doesn’t mean it’s the only path that will get you there, for example. Try asking yourself, “If I couldn’t do this the way I usually do, what other methods might work?” This doesn’t mean you have to try something different, just that you are exercising your mind in order to stretch your creative muscles. This is a fun exercise because you don’t really have to take time out of your day, rather you can just let your imagination wander while you’re engaged in other activities.
Use Brainstorming Techniques
Whether you’re interested in trying something new for dinner or you need a fantastic out-of-the-box marketing campaign for a product at work, brainstorming is a powerful tool. The simplest idea is probably to make a list of possible solutions, although using stream-of-consciousness writing, mind mapping, or doodling on paper are all fun ways to explore new ideas. The key to brainstorming is that you don’t censor your ideas. If you think of it, add it to your list, mind map, picture, etc. You can go back later with a more critical eye. By not editing your thought process, you can come up with ideas you never would have considered, many of which can prove incredibly creative and workable.
Let Yourself Be Inspired
Surround yourself with things that make you feel inspired. Quotes, photographs, and even toys can be great for jumpstarting your thought process and cultivating creativity. As you look through inspiring images or read words that encourage you, your mind will be making leaps that allow you to integrate the things you love into your life. Inspiring people are helpful, too. Try putting yourself into someone else’s shoes and imagine how they would approach a specific problem or situation, and you will likely come up with new ideas of your own.
Children are arguably the most creative people around, and it’s no mystery as to why. They don’t have the same limiting thoughts we have. They believe in magic, use their imaginations all day long, and have a great time pretending. Allow yourself some time to play every day. From dress up to toys to having an imaginary tea party, pulling yourself out of your daily routine in order to do something FUN can be just the ticket you need to cultivate the creativity you’re seeking.
These five exercises are all simple, and most of them can be easily incorporated into a normal day. Each of them challenges your mind to think in different directions and to remove the limits we often place on our own thinking. After all, cultivating creativity is all about thinking in new directions.