Minimalism is more than decluttering and simplifying alone. While those are important parts of the minimalist journey, truly embracing minimalism involves shifting the way you think about many different aspects of your life as well. All of which leads you to adopt and shift to a minimalist mindset.
Minimalism is about committing to owning less, rather than decluttering more often. It’s about changing your view of what you own and why you own it. It’s about shifting some of your habits, beliefs, patterns and even the way you think about some things.
Sometimes these shifts happen intentionally and consciously. Other times they happen naturally on their own, gradually and subtly, and in small ways.
But whether they are intentional changes or gradual shifts you didn’t even realize were happening, one day you look around and realize that not only has your relationship with “stuff” completely changed. But the way you think about so many other aspects of your life has changed too!
Your journey towards and through minimalism has changed your mindset, to what I like to call the minimalist mindset shift.
My Own Minimalist Mindset Shift
Several years ago, our family took a weekend trip to a nearby city. My husband was going to a hockey game with some friends and I had an appointment in the city the following day, so we decided to make a mini-getaway out of it.
We live in a small town with limited shopping options, so in the past when we went to the city, we usually had a long shopping list of things we “needed” and spent the whole time running from store to store. By the end of it, we were all tired and cranky and came home with a bunch of new stuff.
Activities rather than shopping
This trip was different. While we did do a little shopping, without even realizing it or fully intending it, experiences and activities together became the focus of our weekend.
We went to a large mall, that has a hotel, water park, amusement park, other entertainment options along with hundreds of stores. I had a couple of things I was planning to buy, a new pair of shoes for me and some summer clothes for the kids.
But the kids quickly spotted the amusement park rides and wanted to go. We told them they could ride a few rides, but we ended up spending the rest of the afternoon there.
The kids had a blast and it was such a fun and spontaneous way to spend the afternoon. When we got back to our hotel for supper, we were all tired, but happy. It was a nice change.
It’s the little things
That night we ordered room service for supper and had a picnic in our room. We did this mainly because we were tired and didn’t feel like going out again. But the kids thought it was the biggest treat ever.
It was a great reminder of how simple things can be so much fun for kids. They don’t need the biggest and best of everything. They were delighted to be eating a picnic of take-out food together around a hotel side table.
After supper, we went swimming in the hotel pool. It was such a fun, simple day. Nothing fancy or elaborate. But we all had fun together.
Our mindset had changed
On the way home, my husband and I reflected on the fact that we spent the whole time DOING things rather than BUYING things, and what a difference it made. We both noticed how much nicer this trip was and how much fun it was.
As I thought about it, I realized our mindset had changed and shifted. We were now living with a minimalist mindset.
A mindset that has stayed with us in the years since and only solidified as an important value for our family. We intentionally choose to prioritize using our time, energy and resources on experiences, rather than “things”.
But that’s just the beginning. Adopting a minimalist mindset has impacted, shaped and shifted other parts of our lives as well.
A shifting mindset
Changing your mindset, beliefs and habits around “stuff” can be one of the biggest hurdles of embracing minimalism for many of us.
You might declutter and purge your home and are excited to embrace a more minimalist lifestyle. But then a few months later you’ve acquired a bunch of new stuff to take the place of the old. So you declutter and purge again, and the cycle continues.
Without changing the way you think about “stuff” and adopting a minimalist mindset, it’s difficult to make a big shift to fully embracing minimalism.
Of course, even people who fully embrace minimalism need to purge and declutter occasionally. Stuff accumulates, priorities change, seasons of life change and we no longer need things we used to.
But once you have fully embraced a minimalist mindset, the way you think shifts and changes. You think differently about what you have in your home, how you spend your time, what your priorities are and what you value.
Noticing this change to a minimalist mindset we’d experienced during our weekend getaway, got me thinking of the other ways minimalism might change the way you think.
The Minimalist Mindset Shift – 9 Ways Minimalism Changes The Way You Think
Here are 9 minimalist mindset shifts I’ve experienced since embracing a life with less:
1. Value experiences over physical things
Once you’ve committed to living with less, you begin looking for ways to spend your time, energy and resources on experiences rather than only thinking about what “thing” you can buy next.
You’d rather spend your time and resources doing something to create memories, not add clutter to your life. Experiences, activities and adventures become more important than acquiring more things.
2. Stop buying things you don’t need
As you embrace minimalism, you become more intentional about what you bring into your space. You stop (or at least slow down, because learning to embrace living with less is a process and won’t happen overnight) buying things just to satisfy your need for something new.
Instead, you only buy things you have carefully thought about and decided will add value to your life. You start buying less and being more intentional about what you do buy.
Your spending habits in general change after the minimalist mindset shift. You might prioritize spending money on activities and experiences rather than buying more “stuff”.
You might stop seeing shopping as a hobby or a past time. And begin to look for new hobbies or past times that add value to your life, make you happy and aren’t focused on consumerism or acquiring more.
3. Become a fierce and intentional gatekeeper about what you allow into your home and your life
After all of your hard work decluttering, purging and minimizing your home, the last thing you want to do is fill it right back up with stuff. Knowing how much work it was to get rid of your excess stuff is excellent motivation to stop unnecessary items from coming into your home again, to begin with.
You might begin to pay more attention to what “stuff” is entering your home and take on the role of a gatekeeper.
Making an effort to stop unnecessary, unwanted or unneeded items from coming into your home in the first place. Instead of letting them come into your home, being forced to deal with them and ultimately decluttering them later.
You become more careful and intentional about what you let in your space in the first place.
4. Focus on owning less rather than decluttering more often
After shifting to and embracing a minimalist mindset, you stop the cycle of decluttering, then buying more, then decluttering again. Again, after all the time and effort you put into decluttering your home, you don’t want to end up right back where you started.
With a minimalist mindset, you realize that owning less is much easier and more beneficial than decluttering more often. Your focus changes and you actually WANT to own less because of the value it brings to your life.
5. Become more intentional with your time
Minimalism is not just about your “stuff”. It goes beyond physical items and changes the way you spend your time as well.
You begin saying no to commitments that don’t align with what you value. As well as saying no to commitments that take too much time away from what you DO value.
You recognize that your time is your most valuable resource and work hard to become more intentional with how you spend it.
A minimalist mindset encourages you to become more intentional with what you allow to take up both your time and your space.
6. Realize happiness does not come from “things”
A wonderful side effect of embracing a minimalist mindset is you begin recognizing that lasting happiness will never come from the things you own.
You stop tying your happiness to what you own. Stop thinking once you get the latest and greatest “thing”, you’ll finally feel happy. You no longer feel like you always need more. And you stop believing that happiness lies in the next purchase you make.
Instead, you start recognizing that happiness and self-worth are not dependent on what you own. You realize the things you own are here to serve you, either by being useful to you or bringing you joy.
But what you own does not define you as a person or determine your happiness.
7. Stop comparing yourself to others based on what you own
As you embrace the minimalist mindset, you let go of the idea of “keeping up with the Joneses”.
You learn to find contentment with what you have. Knowing what you own are the things you use and love. They are the things that bring value to your life rather than burdening you. And that is enough.
It becomes easier to let go of comparison or feeling like you need more to “keep up”. And instead, you feel comfortable and confident embracing what is enough for you and your family.
With that, you stop feeling the need to compare what you own to what other people own. Because it doesn’t matter. Your belongings do not define you as a person or your worth.
You are content with less because owning less makes your life better. Comparison based on what people own is no longer a game you want to play.
8. Stop letting fear or a scarcity mindset rule what stays in your home
You stop keeping clutter you don’t use or love “just in case” or because you might need it someday. You realize how rarely those “just in case” situations actually happen.
Instead, you choose the benefits of a clutter-free home now, over the need to be prepared for every possible, what-if scenario that may or may not happen at some unknown point in the future.
And on the odd occasion you do find yourself without something you could use, you know there are many different potential solutions.
Maybe you have another item you can use in its place. Or perhaps you could borrow the item from a friend. Sometimes you can actually do without the item altogether and realize you didn’t need it after all. In the absolute worst-case scenario, you might not be able to find an alternative and may have to re-buy something you previously got rid of.
But those times really are rare. And if you ask me, the space and freedom you gain from getting rid of the unnecessary clutter are definitely worth the price of having to maybe, potentially re-buy the odd item if you ever really need it.
9. Realize organizing is not the answer
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you need to organize better when really you just have too much stuff, to begin with, and need to get rid of the excess!
As the minimalist mindset shift happens you begin to see that organizing will never give you the long-term freedom and peace you are looking for. The clutter is all still there and will eventually make its way out of your organized system and continue causing clutter and stress in your home and your life.
The only way to really fix the problem is to get to the root of the problem itself and rid of anything you don’t use, need or love.
Only then will you give yourself lasting results by making your home easier to manage and free up both time and space in your home and your life.
Gradual Minimalist Mindset Shift
Making any big change to your habits, beliefs, mindset and the way you live is a process. These shifts to embrace a minimalist mindset don’t happen overnight.
We live in a culture that is constantly telling us more is better and being bombarded with consumerism. It takes time and intentional effort to shift your mindset, habits and ways of living. And some of these shifts will come more easily for you than others.
But over time and with practice, as you embrace minimalism as a lifestyle, you might notice your mindset shifting to a minimalist mindset too!
Now to you, what would you add to this list? What is the biggest mindset shift you’ve experienced or are beginning to see as you embrace a more minimalist life? What mindset shift is or will be the most difficult for you? Leave a comment below to join the conversation!