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Whether you live with stress or anxiety, or you’re just tired of cleaning and clutter commanding your time, minimalism can radically change your life.

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Slowly, I am embracing minimalist life. Soon, I’ll be as minimalist as they get, living out of a suitcase. The further into the process I get, the more I wonder why it took me so long to do this.

We like to think we are what surrounds us, and perhaps that’s true — in the worst possible way. We are clutter, distraction, and excess, and it’s taking a toll on more people than ever.

As I began this process, a friend shared this Facebook post by Eat Pray Love writer Elizabeth Gilbert and it really inspired me to get started. Having gotten this far, I look forward to paring down even more.

Only one week into a 70% lighter home, I find myself thinking how much nicer life will be when I’m truly a minimalist.

Here are 10 ways that minimalism can change our lives.

1. You’ll feel more free.

A open, airy space feels like it’s inviting anything and everything to happen. It’s not cumbersome. Looking around, you won’t feel you need to fill it. Instead, you’ll feel like you’re less beholden to your home, you’re less tethered to your life, and therefore more able to pick up and do whatcha want, or go where you want.

2. You’ll clean less.

You’ll find things more easily. There’ll be less dust. It’ll be more about just Swiffering the floor or vacuuming a rug, rather than constantly “straightening up” or dusting.

3. You’ll spend less money.

A magical thing happens when you tell yourself you’re happy with what you have: You stop buying things. Then what happens is you stop killing time in stores or malls. You stop shopping online. You stop looking at ads, listening to what your friends are saying about a new shop or a new thing they bought. You start wondering how you ever bought so many things so regularly.

4. You’ll work less, or you’ll live more.

Maybe money will still be a necessary evil and work will dominate your life, but your home life will be infinitely simpler. Fewer dishes and clothes to wash, an easier home to maintain, less to put away, less to focus on, and therefore more time on your hands to do as you like.

5. You’ll feel like life has more possibility.

With less around you, an interesting thing happens. You become less about the life you’ve lived and the past you’ve had, and more about the future you can have, the dreams that are possible. With less to weigh you down, the feeling is that you can reach higher, achieve more. If opportunity arises, there’s less holding you back from pursuing it.

morning sun window woman

6. You’ll learn to choose mindfully.

When clutter is our life, it’s easy to buy things because we can’t find them, think we need them. When minimalism is your goal, each purchase becomes an exercise of your ethos. Is it really necessary? Can something else do the same job? Will it actually improve and simplify your life? “No” is a far more common response than you realize, and once again you’ll walk away with more money staying in your pockets.

7. You’ll realize “just in case” was ruling your life.

People keep things “just in case” they need them. Once you stop living life like it needs a contingency plan, you’ll see how easy it is to adapt without contingencies. A year ago, I got rid of a “just in case” box of cables. So many cables and chargers. How many have I had to buy since? Zero. And I’ve gotten rid of more.

8. You’ll learn more about yourself.

Once your clutter and memories and heirlooms are whittled to a minimum, you’ll see that you aren’t just a collection of places you’ve been and things you bought. You’ll be in the present and better able to answer that age-old question of what you really want, when you know it’s something you can’t just buy at a store.

9. You’ll be less distracted.

I know what it’s like to have a thing on my desk I need to deal with, but it’s surrounded by so much other crap that it doesn’t get done. Distraction is a killer. It costs us productivity, focus, time, money. Without distraction, it’s easier to know what we need, or find a plan to do what needs doing.

10. You won’t shut up about minimalism.

You’ll want to tell others how much you’ve simplified your life. It won’t be bragging — it’s that you’ll know it changed your life and you’ll recognize owner-fatigue in others, and you’ll want to save them from it. Everyone I know who has downsized swears by what they’ve done. Every minimalist I know thinks there’s more they don’t need, that they can get rid of. All of them have inspired me, and I know I’ve carried on to inspire others. Minimalism is contagious in the best way.

What you really crave

Maybe your life isn’t lacking anything. Maybe that emptiness you sometimes feel isn’t about stuff you don’t have. Maybe it’s you realizing that, no matter what you buy, it’s not the Band-aid you’ve been looking for.

Maybe, just maybe, getting rid of it all so you can get back to life is what you really, really crave. Maybe coming home to a relatively clean house with spacious shelves, uncluttered surfaces, and lots of floor space could be transformative for you.

Maybe minimalism is finally how having less can give you more in life. Start small. The more you do, the more you’ll be inspired to do. Minimalism is one of the few things in life that truly is its own reward. Make this your year of living with less.

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Steffani Cameron

Steffani Cameron is a Victoria BC-based writer on a variety of topics. Here on the BuildDirect blog, she specializes in writing about smaller, urban spaces. How do you make the most of your smaller space? How do you decorate it to suit you? And how do you wage the war against clutter and win? This is Steff’s specialty.