Minimalism: The value of de-cluttering your life

If you’re on social media, you’ve probably heard of of the documentary: ‘Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things.’ For the better part of a year, people have been praising the film hard, crediting it with providing them some much-needed perspective in their lives.

‘How might your life be better with less?’ is the tagline of the documentary, and that’s a pretty good intro to what minimalism is all about.

It’s not simply about giving up material possessions (although that often helps), but rather it’s about removing the things in your life that stand in the way of a happier, more meaningful existence.

According to ‘the minimalists,’ Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, the focus isn’t on having less, they say, but rather on “making room for more: more time, more passion, more experiences, more growth, more contribution, more contentment. More freedom. Clearing the clutter from life’s path helps us make that room.”

I’m a minimalist newbie, so I got in touch with my friend, Amanda, who’s been actively giving it a go. Amanda leads a busy life, running her own business.

Amanda did a ‘40 Bags in 40 Days’ challenge for Lent. Sorting and purging, she impressively got rid of one bag (no matter how small) per day of “stuff” that she didn’t need.

“I’m convinced that simplicity is what I need in my life,” she said. “I need the space and decluttering for brain injury purposes as well. My brain works better with less visual clutter.”

In fact, according to a study by the Princeton Neuroscience Institute, all of our brains work better with less visual clutter. Specifically, the study found, the more clutter you can see (even peripherally), the more easily you’ll get distracted.

And this finding is of no small significance. If you think about it, this can be extended to all areas of your life, including at work, at home, at the gym, and on and on. Remove the clutter – physical and mental – and reap the benefits of better focus, clearer thinking, and a mindset more conducive to achieving not only your goals, but meaning and happiness in your life.

When I asked Amanda about how minimalism affects the way she trains, she said she’s in much better shape now and feels healthier since she started living with a minimalist mindset. Interestingly, since she has removed unnecessary commitments and simplified her life, focusing only on the essentials, she has more time for the gym. And she’s able to get out in nature more often, she said.

“The ideology has really changed my approach to life in many ways,” she said. “It’s about simplifying life. It really does provide a sense of freedom – from obligation, from the heaviness of ‘stuff,’ and from a feeling of overwhelm, both cognitively and emotionally.”

Perhaps less truly is more. 

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