Once upon a time, there lived a world of people who grew busy and consumed by their possessions. They became activity addicts and digital junkies. They bought fancy cars and decorated their homes with all sorts of things. They lived for their phones, and they craved shopping sprees—life was boring without their addictive habits. That all changed when they felt the need for some simplification.
Enter minimalism. Recently, Marie Kondo broke ground in the minimalism movement, and now it seems like everyone is ready to trade their material possessions for a simplified lifestyle. There’s no right or wrong way to do it, per se, but there are some basic principles of minimalism that are helpful to know if you’re considering this kind of lifestyle. Dedication and time go into this practice, especially if you really want to reap the benefits of living as a minimalist. Pull out your Marie Kondo hats and get ready to abide by these 10 minimalism commandments that will turn your life into a simpler, more purposeful one.
1. Set your rules
You heard it right—set YOUR rules. There are tons of articles out there that will teach you how to be a minimalist, just as your friends and minimalist icons will give you their two cents about minimalism. If you’re trying to simplify your life, don’t clutter your mind with other people’s ideas of how you should live. Set some ground rules for yourself.
2. Ask yourself questions.
Think: What do I want to get out of this? Who am I really doing this for? (It should be yourself!) How will I simplify my life? When you ask yourself these questions, realize that your answers may change as you advance in the practice. Perhaps you’ll want to delve deeper into a minimalist lifestyle, or maybe it won’t be your thing and you’ll stick to quarterly spring cleaning sessions. Define and redefine these things as you go along.
3. Start with your mindset.
Begin with the way you think about minimalism. You should regard it as a practice rather than a chore. Some people think of minimalism as an obligation—a thought mechanism to encourage cleaner houses and frugality. Minimalism is much more than that. It should bring you peace and calm. It’s about coming back to the essence of who you are. Sometimes “stuff” gets in the way of that. That’s why minimalism exists—to clear your life of those extra things and bring you back to your core.
4. Think big picture.
Instead of getting wrapped up in the little details of minimalism, come back to your “why.” You decided to adopt minimalism into your life for a reason or a variety of reasons. Center your practice on that.
5. Be frugal when you can.
We’re not asking you to stop spending money altogether. Frugality is different from living cheaply. To be frugal is to acknowledge that you don’t need everything you see. Divide your wants from your needs and decide how you’d like to spend your money in a way that will benefit you most.
6. Find freedom.
“That which you hold holds you.” Minimalism is about finding freedom from material attachments. If you’re adopting unhealthy habits because of an attachment to your stuff, find freedom from that.
7. Think about your food.
Minimalism is an all-encompassing healthy practice. It seeps into all aspects of your life, so don’t forget to incorporate it into your diet. The next time the cookie jar is calling your name, exercise your willpower and go for an apple instead!
8. Don’t talk a big game.
You’re picking this lifestyle for you, not for others. Don’t view it as an opportunity for bragging rights, because that defeats the purpose of simplifying your life and living with intentions. We certainly live in a social media infused world, where “humble brags” and look-at-me photos are everywhere, so rise up and recognize that this is for you.
9. Write out your goals.
Minimalism is meant to simplify your life, so it may be counterintuitive that it requires work up-front. That’s because it’s more than just a lifestyle change; it’s a commitment to yourself. Write down your goals so that you’re more inclined to stick to them. Post them on your bathroom mirror or by your dresser.
10. Stop comparing to others.
If you’re working on yourself, comparing to others won’t get you where you want to be. Who cares what someone else is doing? You’re doing something wonderful for yourself, and that should be enough. Comparison robs you of joy and fulfillment, so just don’t do it!
We’ve come up with 10 of our favorite minimalism rules, but that doesn’t mean you need to attack them all at once! Go at your own pace and enjoy this path toward a simpler life. Always remember the most important minimalism commandment of all: Thou shalt live with less.