6 Important Minimalist Lessons That Will Transform Your Life

Ana Goldberg
by Ana Goldberg

I learned a lot of minimalist lessons when I had to move from one city to another and start a new life almost 10 years ago.

I had gathered so much excess and was so overwhelmed trying to figure out what to do with everything.

Since then, I managed to break free from the hoarder mentality.

I want to share with you the most important life-changing lessons that I've learned from my years as a minimalist and give you 6 reasons to embrace minimalist living.

Using laptop

1. The urge to buy is contagious

You will be familiar with this if you’ve ever been influenced by the Black Friday craze. Even if you don't plan to purchase anything, just watching other people buy things, unpack, and show what they have can trigger desire in you.

Scientific research shows that humans have certain types of neurons that fire when simply watching someone else carry out an action. Even when we are not doing the same thing, such neurons help us understand and identify with other people.

When I decided to own less stuff, I had to learn to track where my urge to buy things came from. Most often it came from watching other people's purchases. Honestly, I'm still vulnerable to that and I think that's normal.

It's challenging to rewire your own brain. I think that the best strategy is just to take time and let the urge settle. In most situations, you will find that you don't need whatever it is and that you are completely fine with what you already have.

Random items

2. Things have physical and mental weight

We don't even notice how much weight we carry. We carry the emotional weight of all the physical things in our living space. We serve our stuff instead of our stuff serving us, much like addiction.

Things do have weight. Physical weight is felt when we have to move things around, sell, donate, or throw stuff away. They also have mental, and emotional weight from our past like our memories, joys, and regrets. It’s difficult to notice the moment when this weight stops being comforting and becomes very overwhelming.

Sometimes it's a symptom of our refusal to move on. Sometimes it's a symptom of our fear of the future or the fear of ourselves. I find it so essential to learn this very lesson and to finally decide what weight I'm willing and I'm able to carry.

Sitting on couch

3. Decluttering is not a magic pill

Decluttering can be a great starting point, but eventually, it has to transform into mindful and intentional ownership. If you have to declutter regularly and continuously, then something is not right.

Decluttering is not a marathon. It's a very intimate, deep, and psychologically unique process that needs to be approached slowly and intentionally.

When other people tell you what exact things you need to declutter to live a happier life, it seems easy to follow that one-size-fits-all solution.

But making lasting change is more mentally demanding. You will need to analyze your purchase behaviors, ownership habits, insecurities, and fantasy selves.

This is what minimalism is about, living better with less, not just living with less.


4. Self-worth is not defined by size or quantity

I grew up in late and post-Soviet Russia when many basic things like food and clothes were scarce. I was lucky to go to one of the best schools in our Siberian city, and most of my schoolmates were from pretty well-off families. I felt so horrible and embarrassed when I had to wear the same dirty clothes every day.

When I chose to intentionally own less, I had to go back to my childhood, to my poverty-induced insecurities, and work through them. I can afford to own more than two pairs of shoes, and I can have a nicer bag, but I choose not to. I don't need more with my current lifestyle.

So what if people judge me? The flow of judgment never ends. We either choose to suffer from it or ignore it. My self-worth is not defined by what I own. It is defined by my thoughts, actions, and experiences. Embracing a minimalist lifestyle has helped me recognize this truth.

Putting on gloves

5. Finding the true value of things can be challenging

Finding the true value of things can be challenging, but it's essential. With the current overconsumption trend, people grow numb to things. I am against treating material objects as mere tools and disposables. I prefer to treat them as my helpers and companions.

This kind of perspective helps me avoid unnecessary decluttering. It also nurtures gratitude towards what I already have. The true value of things lies not in their price or even quality. It lies in the feelings that they bring you and the purpose it provides to you.

Knitting box

6. Minimalism can be applied to every aspect of life

I love minimalist and simple cooking. I have defined the essential spices that I need so that I don't have to have numerous jars and packets.

At the moment, I'm redefining my artistic style so that I can create artwork with the least number of materials. I'm also trying to master the skill of decluttering anxiety and stress-based mentality to embrace the present day with everything that it has to offer.

Minimalist lessons

We cannot be less than we feel ourselves to be, so why not let ourselves be more instead of owning more?

Let me know in the comments which of these lessons resonated with you the most. Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences on learning to live a minimalist life.

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2 of 5 comments
  • Gayle Rush-lopez Gayle Rush-lopez on Feb 27, 2024
    Thank you for your motivating lesson that less is best. I have been trying to figure out how to get this mindset for a few years and you gave it to me. I am beyond grateful and what helped the most was just that. How to make sense of it all. I cannot find the descriptive words to explain what exactly you said that made it all make sense of it but whatever it was---It Worked. Thanks for the help. So very appreciated.Gayle Rush
  • Linda Linda on Apr 09, 2024
    I don’t even know where to begin to declutter in my house. I ama shopaholic and I love to buy things.try as I might I just can’t stop.ant ideas to help me