What does “living a minimalist life” really mean? What does it take?

I’ve pondered this question, myself, and didn’t really have a good answer until I listened to a School of Greatness podcast episode called Living With Less: The Power of Being a Minimalist.

In this episode, Lewis Howes interviewed Joshua Fields Millburn, cofounder of The Minimalists podcast and theminimalists.com.

I rarely listen to podcasts more than once, but I listened to this episode three times in a row because there were so many great insights on minimalism, what it truly is, and how you can use it to improve your life.

The reality is that minimalism is whatever you want it to be for your own life.

There isn’t a hard and fast definition or set of criteria you must meet in order to live a minimalist life.

For example, one common misconception about minimalism is that you have to go off the grid and become some sort of hermit.

In reality, it’s not as much about having less stuff as it is only having stuff that’s meaningful to you and that adds value to your life.

You can immediately see how this can be different for different people. Some people might think artwork is a waste of money and others might find a lot of joy and value in it.

And really, it goes beyond just stuff. Minimalism applies to your relationships, experiences, and your daily actions as well. In fact, Joshua argues that your time and attention are more valuable resources than money and I totally agree.

The biggest takeaway I got from the show was Joshua’s personal story and transformation.

In the past, he had said that certain things like health and relationships were important to him, but he was 80 pounds overweight and not spending time with his family and close friends.

It’s true that he became happier after simplifying his life, getting out of debt, and removing himself from the materialistic habits and lifestyle of the upper echelons of corporate America.

But the REASON he was happier was that he was living out his personal values, which he wasn’t before. In his words, “My short-term actions align with my long-term values.”

Minimalism was simply a vehicle that enabled him to do this.

So what does living a minimalist life really mean?

To me, it’s not about how much money you spend, how much stuff you have or how many social media apps are on your phone.

It’s about living intentionally.

If before every purchase, every commitment, every daily action, you ask yourself

  1. Does this add value to my life (serve a purpose or bring me joy)?
  2. Does this align with my personal values?

And then only buy, commit to, and do the things that you answer “yes” to, then you are living intentionally.

If you want to learn more about minimalism, I highly recommend watching or listening to The School of Greatness episode with Joshua Fields Millburn.

Featured image by Frank McKenna.

First published on Quora.

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