Decluttering the physical “stuff” you own is an important part of embracing a minimalist lifestyle. But minimalism actually goes far beyond decluttering the “stuff” you own. Truly embracing minimalism, and experiencing all the benefits that come with it, also includes decluttering certain mindsets, behaviours and thought patterns that keep you attached to things you own to begin with. Basically, these are things I’ve decluttered as a minimalist…that aren’t “things” at all! Here are 9 mindsets I’ve decluttered for a more positive life.
The benefits of minimalism go beyond owning less
I’ve experienced many benefits from decluttering and embracing a minimalist lifestyle. I’m less stressed, find it easier to keep our home tidy, and have more time for activities and people I love. Just to name a few of the benefits.
But some of the biggest changes and benefits I’ve experienced from embracing minimalism have very little to do with “stuff” at all. Instead, they have more to do with letting go of certain mindsets keeping me feeling attached to the things I owned. They are mindsets I’ve decluttered to create a more positive life.
Minimalism helps you let go of limiting mindsets
Minimalism is a lifestyle that is personal and unique to each of us living it. After all, the whole idea of minimalism is deciding what you value most, both tangible and intangible things. Then getting rid of anything that doesn’t line up with what you value. Because we all value different things, our version of minimalism will be unique to our values.
However, there are a few common limiting mindsets that keep us holding on to things we own. Even if they’re not things we value. These limiting mindsets prevent us from fully embracing minimalism.
No one has it all together, all the time. So of course, I am still a work in progress too. I still struggle with some of these limiting mindsets. But I have found fully embracing minimalism, and applying minimalist philosophies to areas of my life beyond my “stuff”, such as the way I think and my patterns of behaviour, has had a very positive impact on my life.
Today I want to share 9 mindsets I’ve decluttered since embracing minimalism that have drastically improved my life.
9 mindsets I’ve decluttered for a more positive life
1. Believing more is better
We live in a consumer-driven society. One where advertisers and retailers are constantly giving us messages that more is better. That we need to own the next latest and greatest “thing” to complete our lives.
But in reality, our homes and our lives are overflowing with “stuff”. More stuff than we could ever truly use or need. Eventually, all the “stuff” that claims to make our lives better, actually starts adding stress to our lives. Our homes become cluttered and hard to clean. We lose things and waste a lot of time looking for the things we own.
Between shopping, cleaning, organizing, picking up, maintaining, repairing, etc. we spend so much of our time managing the things we own.
When we embrace minimalism, we begin to see that owning less can make our lives better. When we only own the things we use regularly or love, we aren’t burdened and weighed down by too much “stuff”. We spend less time managing the “stuff” we own. And spend more time actually living and enjoying our lives instead.
2. Thinking the things I own define me as a person
When you embrace minimalism and choose to own less, you stop believing the things you own define who you are. You realize the things you own aren’t who you are. They are simply things you use to make your life easier or things that make you happy. But they don’t define who you are.
The way you live your life defines who you are. Your words, your actions, your thoughts, your beliefs, your values. Those are the things that define who you are. The amount of stuff you own, what kinds of things you own, or what brand of things you own have nothing to do with who you are.
I thought of a great example of this as I was shopping for a new pair of yoga pants recently. I found myself looking at an expensive pair of designer yoga pants, feeling that prang of insecurity. That if I want to be a “real” yogi, I need to wear certain brands of yoga clothes.
But I quickly realized how silly this mindset was. Will owning an expensive pair of designer yoga pants make my yoga practice better or deeper? No. The depth and impact of my yoga practice come from how I follow the teachings of yoga, both on and off the mat. What I’m wearing when I practice yoga doesn’t define my practice or the impact it has on my life.
3. Keeping up with the Jones’
In our society, many of us feel pressure to keep up with what we think are certain standards of success. We all have our own version of what these standards are. But comparing our lives to other peoples based on what we own is fairly common.
We think we need to own certain things, do certain things, or live a certain way to be seen as successful.
But just as the things we own don’t define us as people, nor it is helpful to compare what we own to other people or try to “keep up with the Jones’”.
Instead, focus on only owning what you actually use regularly or love. As discussed above, owning more is not always better. Choose to own the amount of stuff and the type of stuff you actually use or love. Don’t worry about what anyone else owns. Let go of comparing your life to other peoples and focus on creating a life that serves you best.
4. Overspending and mindless shopping
Prior to embracing minimalism, if I saw something I wanted, I bought it. It didn’t matter if I needed it, or if it fit in our budget. This pattern of behaviour led to a house full of “stuff” we didn’t use or need.
Embracing minimalism has taught me to make more thoughtful and intentional purchases. Instead of impulsively buying things I won’t use or don’t need, I try to shop mindfully. Buying things that will add value to my life, not just clutter.
5. A scarcity mindset
Many of us hold onto clutter and “stuff” because it makes us feel secure. Maybe we worry we might need it “someday”, or keep it “just in case”. These are all forms of a scarcity mindset. A feeling we have when we worry we won’t have enough or won’t have the things we need in the future.
But keeping things because of a scarcity mindset often leads to a home full of clutter. Full of things we rarely or never use, but keep because we’re afraid of letting them go.
Embracing minimalism involves letting go of this scarcity mindset and fear of not having enough. And instead, realizing even with less, we still have everything we need. It’s about choosing to have more time, space, energy and freedom. Instead of keeping things “just in case” you might need them sometime in the future.
Usually these “just in case” situations rarely actually happen. And if they do happen, we can usually make do with something else. Or forget we were even saving an item “just in case” anyways!
Let go of a scarcity mindset and enjoy the benefits of having less stuff to manage instead!
6. Spending the majority of my time managing our “stuff”
When we own too much stuff, a large portion of our time is taken up managing all that “stuff”. We have to earn the money for it, shop for it, organize it, clean it, pick it up, maintain it, repair it, worry about it, look for it, etc.
Naturally, the more you own, the more of your time is taken up managing the things you own.
When you own too much stuff, the time, energy and work involved in managing it is exhausting, frustrating and stressful. Who wants to spend so much of their precious time and energy managing “stuff” they don’t even use or need?! Not to mention how much more time and energy it takes to clean and maintain your home when you have too much stuff!
When you embrace minimalism and commit to owning less, you simply have fewer things to manage. And fewer things taking up your time and energy. Get rid of anything you don’t use regularly or love. Then enjoy the time and freedom you gain from having fewer things to take care of.
7. Being busy doing things that don’t align with my values and goals
When you own less, you have fewer things taking up your time and energy. Which gives you more time to focus on what is most important to you.
In addition, embracing minimalism also helps you look at your schedule and what fills your time. Identifying which activities and commitments are adding value to your life, and which are only adding clutter.
As a minimalist, you not only become more intentional with what fills your space but also what fills your time. Minimalism helps you assess what is filling your time. So you can determine if those activities add value to your life, and align with your values and goals.
When you let go of the things keeping you busy, but not adding value to your life or aligning with your values and goals, you have more time for the things and people you do value and love. Minimalism teaches you to let go of being busy because you feel pressure to do it all and helps you become more intentional with what fills both your time and your space.
8. Believing happiness comes from “things”
It’s easy to get caught up in the mindset that the things we own will make us happy. Buying something new often makes us feel happy at the time. But the trouble is, that feeling of happiness doesn’t last. Instead, soon after buying something new, we are already looking for the next thing we can buy to make us feel happy again.
This leads to a cycle of buying things we don’t need and buying more than we need. Causing our homes to be cluttered and our lives burdened by too much stuff.
Minimalism means we can value and appreciate the things we own because we use them regularly or love them. But we stop tying our happiness to what we own and what we can buy. We commit to own less, and look for the happiness buying something new gives us from other places. Maybe spending time working on a hobby we love. Or spending time with friends and family.
9. Prioritizing things over people
Minimalism helps you clarify what you value most in your life. And one of the benefits of getting clear about your priorities and values is you can be more intentional about what you devote your time and energy to.
For me, minimalism has helped me realize that the best things in my life are not things. The best parts of my life are the people I share it with, and our experiences and time spent together. Embracing minimalism has let me become very clear about what I value most. So I am able to make sure the way I spend my time and energy aligns with what I value.
For example, I value quality time spent with my kids. But if I never have enough time to sit down and connect with them because I’m too busy cleaning up all the time, my priorities are not aligning with my values. Minimalism means I spend less time cleaning up and managing the things we own. And have more time to spend connecting with my kids instead.
The Minimalists said it best:
“Love people, use things. The opposite never works.”
Minimalism is more than decluttering “stuff”
These are 9 mindsets I’ve decluttered from my life as a minimalist. I hope they will inspire you to see that embracing minimalism goes beyond decluttering the things you own. It also involves decluttering mindsets and behaviours that keep you feeling attached to the things you own. Letting go of these 9 mindsets are examples of ways minimalism has let me create a simplified, more intentional life. And you can too!
Do you notice any of these mindsets showing up in your life? Which of these mindsets are most difficult for you to declutter from your life? Which are the easiest to let go of? Are there other mindsets and behaviours minimalism has helped you let go of? Let me know in the comments below!