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The Surprising Secret to Happiness: A Guide to Minimalist Living

Is your life filled with clutter? Are you surrounded by unnecessary possessions or people that drain you? Acquiring a minimalist mindset can be helpful to you.

Experience more happiness and success (however you define “success’) by living a minimalist lifestyle. These nine proven tips will free you of unnecessary psychological and physical clutter.

What’s In Your Rowboat? (a minimalist metaphor)

It all starts with how you think and what you value.

Imagine yourself in a charming rowboat on a peaceful lake.

A few items within your rowboat help to make the trip more comfortable.

You can glide effortlessly and happily from place to place, feeling the soft breeze in your hair.

But if you add too many items, the boat gets slow and heavy – and starts to take on water.

Gradually, you start to sink.

When you adopt a minimalist mindset, you stop sinking.

A minimalist intentionally lives with fewer material possessions and fewer toxic relationships.

A minimalist adopts a mindset that values quality over quantity – and applies that new way of thinking to physical items, behavior patterns, and human relationships.

The Startling Advantages of Adopting a Minimalist Mindset

If you want to acquire the habits of a minimalist, then just cleaning out your garage or ending negative relationships isn’t going to work.

Your garage will only fill up with stuff again over time. And unhealthy relationships will find their way back into your life.

First, you need to shift your thinking.

single flower is a simple vase in a minimalist interior

Fully adopting the mindset of a minimalist will ensure that your new streamlined habits of minimalism will truly stick.

How Does a Minimalist Define Success?

Each person has a slightly different idea of what success is. Generally, however, it’s understood that success comprises:

  • enjoying physical health
  • living free of burdensome debt
  • having extra money in a savings account or investments
  • having one or more positive people in your life with whom you feel affection
  • being liked and loved by others for whom you feel respect or tenderness
  • having a sensual partner with whom to cuddle and play
  • having a job, hobby, or career about which you feel curiosity and passion.

Adopting a minimalist mindset can increase your chances of experiencing all of the above.

Simplifying Life in a Maximalist World: 9 Easy Ways to Embrace Minimalism

Our culture is more sedentary than we ever imagined it would be.

Because of desks, computers, cars, and smartphones, we are hunched and immobile for more hours in a day than is optimally healthy.

Though our bodies are inactive, our minds are racing – overstimulated with images and digital information.

Our brains have become relentless chatterboxes.

Our external environments often match the clutter we experience on the inside. Ours is not a minimalist culture.

Dane Findley age 54 helps others achieve stellar wellness and a healthier physique.
Dane has a master’s in Depth Counseling and has spent decades as a professional fitness and Pilates trainer. Today, Dane is a Healthy Lifestyle Advocate who curates the popular Quality of Life Newsletter – a free weekly update for those who want to UP their joy levels.

A combination of under-active bodies and overactive minds has created a desire to modify the habitual ways we live to improve our daily quality of life.

We seek serenity and stamina.

We seek a minimalist mindset.

What follows are nine easier ways to live a clutter-free lifestyle.

1. Realize that Self-Care Offers the Best Return on Your Investment

When you possess perfect health, you are perfect potential. Almost anything is possible.

Why channel your limited mental attention and physical energy into people or possessions who provide a low return on your valuable investment?

Your time would be better spent focusing on improving your health. Excellent health gives you a worthwhile return on your investment – R.O.I.

Strangely, most people think of themselves as healthier than they actually are. We’re just funny that way.

Stellar health is a journey. At all times, we can happily experiment with new ways to help ourselves feel and perform even better by thinking like a minimalist.

“Do you experience moments of flow each day, in which you are so deeply present and gratified that you almost lose track of time?”

2. Your New Mindset Appreciates that the Key to a Joyful Life is Simplicity

Own less stuff.

Too many possessions distract from the aspects of life that matter more to you.

Instead of acquiring clutter, you can celebrate your prosperity by investing in yourself.

“there will be someone who comes from a background of poverty who is influenced to strong wanting. And the rockets of desire will shoot, and then they will find a way to find vibrational harmony with their desire. They will get into this flow in which material things flow into their life at outrageous abundance. And they will feel brief moments of success as it comes, until they are eventually buried by the cumbersomeness of it, and then the next rocket of desire that is born is: ‘I’m wanting a simpler life.'”  —Abraham-Hicks

Get a massage, see a fitness trainer, or take a class.

Enrich yourself more with internal experiences and less with material objects.

3. A Positive Inner Dialogue Will Transform Your Experience

The universe has an uncanny way of matching you with the thoughts and beliefs you habitually use.

You will manifest more of whatever you give time, attention, and focus.

Negative thoughts will, over time, create negative experiences.

Observe your thoughts, feelings and words objectively, and challenge yourself to improve their quality.

Make a game of it. Pretend that there is an infinite field of energy. This field is intelligent, creative, compassionate, and playful. This field matches your positive thoughts by sending you positive experiences.

raise quality of life with a minimalist mindset
Heart on sleeve: health writer Dane Findley wears one of his favorite t-shirts.

4. A Minimalist Thinks of Success in Terms of Life Quality

How do you experience your daily quality of life currently?

More than gender or education level, readers of this website seem to have in common that they’re becoming interested in what daily changes they might make to help create a lifestyle flowing with joy and robust health.

Each of us is really after an improvement in the overall quality of life: we want to feel great, look better, and be happier. And we’re smart enough to know that we must take a reasoned, holistic approach to get there.

5. Purge Your Home, Office, and Car of Superfluous Belongings

To create extra time for self-care protocols that will allow you to live a healthier and more joyful life, you will need to simplify some aspects of your everyday living experience.

Our lives are filled with clutter, and those possessions require attention.

“Stop your belongings from owning you by clearing your life of clutter.”

Have you ever considered how much time and energy you put into your possessions?

Most of us have too many belongings, yet we still probably have a list of additional items we’d like to own.

When you acquire a possession – no matter its size – you’re not just investing money in a new item; you’re starting a new relationship with an object with which you will share your life.

External material items can become a distraction from our internal serenity.

healthy couple on beach enjoying having a minimalist mindset and clutter-free life

Owning possessions is complicated.

Purchasing, storing, and maintaining material objects requires your attention – maybe too much of your attention.

It’s important to remember this when making a new purchase and ask yourself: “is it worth it?”

Fortunately, there are tools and techniques to help us stay productive in a clutter-filled world. Often, however, it’s easiest to prevent draining things from entering your home in the first place.

A Minimalist Knows that Clutter Drains Energy

A lighter load means a calmer mind.

My British friend Sean moved to California last year. He decided it would be best to cut his belongings down – to fit within the airline’s allowance of two pieces of luggage.

You can live clutter-free like a minimalist.
Garages are notorious for becoming clutter-filled.

Garages are notorious for becoming clutter-filled.

He gave away furniture, sold off his old DVD collection, and donated books and clothes to charity.

He reports that more expensive items went on eBay (and sold for far more than initially expected).

He told me that dropping off his old belongings felt good – not just because it would raise funds for charity but because it meant the items would find a new home where they could be appreciated more.

Each time he got rid of something, he felt physically lighter. He was proud of himself and now regularly preaches his new almost-possession-free lifestyle to anyone who listens.

Another friend told me, “That must feel so great; I’d love to do something like that.”

You don’t have to move countries to cut down on your stuff.

Of course, cutting your possessions down to two suitcases is hardly practical, but a lighter load will free up time, space, and energy.

I am now wary when purchasing new items. I also have more frequent charity donating-purges.

When thinking about your future clutter-free lifestyle, have a “room sweep” (see video).

De-cluttering can sometimes be a harrowing experience, especially if you have an emotional attachment to some of your things.

The problematic part of de-cluttering is thinking about it beforehand with dread and procrastination.

Once you start the de-cluttering process, it starts to feel better quickly.

6. See the De-Cluttering Process as a Success Ritual

Remind yourself that clearing your home and office of unwanted things makes room for increased success.

7. Ask the Useful-or-Beautiful Question

When you’re doing a clear-out, one essential question is, “Is this item useful or beautiful?”

If it’s not functional or beautiful, then it goes.

If you have a treasured collection of memorabilia – is it displayed proudly in your home, or is it stored away in boxes? How can it bring you joy if it’s stored out of sight?

mature athlete over fifty during sprints workout
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8. Share a Memory

Mementos can be hard to purge. Tell a loved one the story behind your knickknack before getting rid of it. It’s almost like the memory has been released from the item.

9. Your New Mindset Follows the One-Out, One-In Ruler

Once you’ve found a balance, any new items you buy must replace old ones, not join them.

Remember, your home is at capacity, and no one is coming in until someone leaves (this policy works for nightclubs, so why not your home?)

How to Have a Mindset Like a Minimalist

Do your material possessions enhance your lifestyle or drain your energy?

You can design a clutter-free lifestyle inspired by quality (rather than quantity).

One of the differences between your home and the items you store inside it is that the home itself can appreciate in value. In contrast, the possessions inside the home will generally depreciate. This is an important distinction.

Ultimately, simplicity is a state of mind:

  • our secret beliefs about what victory is, impact our lives every day (even if we don’t realize it)
  • chaos and clutter are often just a reflection of our noisy thoughts
  • when we train our brains to see and focus on solutions, our external environments become more serene

“Everything that we own, requires time, energy, and resources to maintain. ”

Real estate, positive human relationships, education, and exercise are much wiser investments. These are things that can appreciate in value. (See video, lower).

What we choose to possess in life weaves itself into the very fabric of our lifestyle. A lot of responsibility comes with having “things” in this world.

You can clean the clutter from your life.

I am noticing that more people are taking a design inventory of their lives. They’re reassessing all they possess and giving thought to the relief of a “lighter load” that owning fewer things might afford. They want a new design for their lives.

You can rid your life of clutter. You can make a conscious decision to slow the tide of new items entering your home (there’s no point in cleaning out your garage if you’re just going to fill it back up with new stuff).

Dane Findley cleans clutter with minimalist mindset.

Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to do your entire home in one weekend. Gradually, look at the items within your home and your office and ask, “Does this enhance my energy?”

A true minimalist knows that if a possession doesn’t enhance your energy, it probably needs to be released. There are generally four ways to release it:

  1. donate it
  2. sell it
  3. toss it
  4. recycle it

The Mindset of a Minimalist Seeks a Lifestyle that Best Fits Unique Interests

After age 50, many people yearn for the return of a time when there were fewer possessions to keep up with and less mental bandwidth required to remember all the items they own.

minimalist clutter-free means serenity
A life lived simply is a life lived in serenity. And that is a mindset.

I’ve had many clients discuss their desire to move to a smaller, more easily manageable, and size-appropriate space for their needs. Not all have wanted to do so to lessen their financial responsibilities. They also realize the possibility that there is an energetic cost to excess.

This is probably one of the reasons that my partner and I specialize in helping others find lifestyle properties. Our mindset behind the term “lifestyle property” is that it adds a dimension of value to a home because it improves the owner’s quality of life (instead of diminishing it).

“…the key to how to live simply is found in learning to set healthy boundaries; you must learn how to say “no” politely, yet potently…”

In a pedestrian-friendly historic downtown district, you could live in a studio apartment with a bike on your wall. Or you could live in a sizeable beachfront estate in Malibu with room for all your grandkids to visit. These are very different sizes and costs. Nevertheless, both of these are lifestyle properties because they add value.

You can design your life to be about experiences rather than materials. That’s what lifestyle properties emphasize. Being a minimalist isn’t always about owning less or living small – it’s more about knowing who you are and what makes you happy.

If you love the Pacific Ocean, living in a home directly on the beach might give you a daily joy that offsets the increased responsibility.

A pedestrian-friendly historic downtown will bring you bliss if you hate to drive.

man packing boxes to move

Living simply is not just about shedding material possessions; it’s also about surrounding yourself with people who elevate your daily life and overall energy level.

Look, people are basically good, but that doesn’t mean you need to make time for absolutely every person you meet.

You can like someone, even love someone, yet still, identify them as someone who ultimately drains your energy.

The key to how to live simply is found while learning to set healthy boundaries.

Your new mindset must learn how to say “no” politely yet potently (people who have less energy are often drawn to people who have more of it).

Well-meaning people will want to make demands of – what they see as – your “surplus” energy. Be firm!

Just as you must try to keep clutter from finding its way back into your home, you must also set aside space in your schedule for self-care and “me” time.

Your Mindset in This Moment

You can make a standing appointment in your calendar that says “do nothing” and not let anyone mess with it. Genuinely, it’s your most important appointment.

  • What has been your experience in recent years – does your mindset seem more straightforward or more harried?
  • Have you or your family recently considered how clutter might impact your daily quality of life in unseen ways? What is the mindset of those around you?
  • Do you sense that adopting a minimalist mindset might improve your overall quality of life and raise your level of fulfillment?

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