If you’re on social media, you’ve probably heard of of the documentary: ‘Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things.’ For the better part of a year, people have been praising the film hard, crediting it with providing them some much-needed perspective in their lives.
‘How might your life be better with less?’ is the tagline of the documentary, and that’s a pretty good intro to what minimalism is all about.
It’s not simply about giving up material possessions (although that often helps), but rather it’s about removing the things in your life that stand in the way of a happier, more meaningful existence.
According to ‘the minimalists,’ Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, the focus isn’t on having less they say, but rather on “making room for more: more time, more passion, more experiences, more growth, more contribution, more contentment, more freedom. Clearing the clutter from life’s path helps us make that room.”
I’m a minimalist newbie, so I got in touch with a friend of mine, who’s been actively giving it a go. They lead a very busy life, running a business and making time for family.
My friend did a ‘40 Bags in 40 Days’ challenge for Lent. Sorting and purging, he impressively got rid of one bag (no matter how small) per day of “stuff” that he didn’t need.
“I’m convinced that simplicity is what I need in my life,” he said. “I need the space and decluttering for brain injury purposes as well. My brain works better with less visual clutter.”
In fact, according to a study by the Princeton Neuroscience Institute, all of our brains work better with less visual clutter. Specifically, the study found, the more clutter you can see (even peripherally), the more easily you’ll get distracted.
And this finding is of no small significance. If you think about it, this can be extended to all areas of your life, including at work, at home, at the gym, and on and on. Remove the clutter – physical and mental – and reap the benefits of better focus, clearer thinking, and a mindset more conducive to achieving not only your goals, but meaning and happiness in your life.
When I asked my friend about how minimalism affects the way he trains, he said he’s in much better shape now and feels healthier since he started living with a minimalist mindset. Interestingly, since he has removed unnecessary commitments and simplified his life, focusing only on the essentials, he has more time for the gym. And he’s able to get out in nature more often, he said.
“The ideology has really changed my approach to life in many ways,” he said. “It’s about simplifying life. It really does provide a sense of freedom – from obligation, from the heaviness of ‘stuff,’ and from a feeling of overwhelm, both cognitively and emotionally.”
Perhaps less truly is more. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some purging to do …