When we look at the benefits of slowing down and living a simpler life, the most obvious thing that sticks out is that we need to live with less. Ironically, having less actually gives us more. What do we mean?
Click here for The Benefits of Slowing Down and Living a Simpler Life: Pt 1
Well, when we own less, we tend to appreciate the things that we do have, even more. We choose things that are going to last longer because they’re better quality (and built to last in the first place). Quality over quantity can be applied in many areas of our lives, whether that’s clothes, food, gadgets, make-up, books – even people.
The Benefits of Living With Less
We don’t have to label ourselves as minimalists in order to live with less (unless we want to). All we need to do is reduce the amount of stuff we live with in our daily lives. Clutter can be a major source of stress; reduce it and your stress levels will also be reduced.
Many studies have shown that having less can improve our mental health, and that minimalists report lower levels of anxiety and depression (1) than non-minimalists. Of course, these things could be seen as generalisations, but even if that’s the case, it’s still worth exploring how living with less can change our own lives.
Living in a cluttered environment makes it difficult to relax, partly because when we look at our piles of clutter, we’re reminded of how many things we have to do. Hardly relaxing, is it? The opposite is also true: live in a calm, uncluttered space and you’ll be calm, too.
Slowing Down, Minimalism and Simplicity are Lifestyle Choices
Minimalism emphasises living with less. It’s about focusing on what’s essential and letting go of the rest. Minimalist ideals can be applied to our homes, our possessions, our relationships, and our work.
Simplifying our surroundings and routines often means we slow down without even thinking about it. When we live at a slower pace, ceasing the incessant rushing and running around, we can breathe more easily. Our health can improve, our relationships may run more smoothly. Improved productivity could give us even more free time. In fact, our entire lives can be improved.
By letting go of the unnecessary, we can create more space for the things that bring us joy and fulfilment.
Another Benefit: Having Less Actually Gives Us More
When we have less stuff, we gain in several ways. Firstly, with less stuff to clean and care for, repair or replace, we have more time. If we’re not spending our weekends cleaning, tidying, sorting etc, we can use that free time doing things we love, with the people we want to be with. Perhaps we’ll make time for hobbies we’ve always wanted to try, paint a picture, or test out new recipes; maybe go for that long walk or camping trip we keep promising ourselves.
Quality Over Quantity
In a world often fixated on the hustle and bustle of accumulating more, the age-old wisdom of ‘quality over quantity’ emerges as a guiding beacon. This principle champions the idea that excellence and substance are far more valuable than sheer abundance. And it’s true. Anyone who embraces fast fashion knows only too well that their clothes won’t last long before they have to be replaced. Yet still people continue to buy, buy, buy.
Quality items are obviously more expensive, and in a cost of living crisis, it would appear on the surface that it’s better to just buy something cheap, at least on ‘this occasion’. But looking at it another way, wouldn’t saving for one good, quality piece that you’re going to be able to enjoy for longer be a much better option?
Terry Pratchett, in his satirical and insightful Discworld series, often wove narratives around the folly of placing quantity before quality, and he was right.* Buy a pair of cheap plastic shoes and they may last a season; buy a pair of good leather ones instead and they could last you years. It will save you money in the long run, but obviously it’ll take you longer to get them in the first place.
Perhaps it’s time for us to delay the instant gratification model we’ve become accustomed to.
Having More Money
Another way we gain (from living more simply) is having more money. It’s pretty obvious that if we’re shopping and buying less, we’ll also be spending less. We own less, we spend less; we have less to store, less to insure, and less to maintain. It’s a no-brainer.
If you only read one book on the subject of money, try this one: Your Money or Your Life. I did a brief analysis on this over at EasyPeasySuccess which you can read here. Alternatively, this is a link to the book on Amazon (aff. link). It examines exchanging ‘life hours’ for your purchases, and could just change the way you look at money forever.
Having less clutter to distract us means it’s easier to focus on what’s important, meaning we can improve our productivity. As with anything, remove the distractions and things become clearer.
Sustainability Benefits Us All
Buying less, producing less rubbish, using eco/natural products for cleaning, re-using, repairing, recycling and upcycling – all of these things can help us live a more sustainable lifestyle. Being aware of our consumption is just the starting point though. Living with less helps us actually reduce our impact on the environment.
We don’t have to try and do everything at once. One person can’t do it all, but many people doing a little can add up to an awful lot of change.
Get Rid of the People Who Cause you Stress – the Ultimate Declutter!
This is easier said than done, but getting rid of negative people can have a dramatic effect on our mental health. The ultimate form of decluttering! It’s a huge subject which will be covered in other articles, but there is already lots of information on this online.
Living a slower, simpler life is not always easy, but it can be incredibly rewarding. If you’re looking for a way to reduce stress, improve your mental health, and simplify your life, living with less and embracing a more minimalist lifestyle may be a good option for you.
There is beauty in refining our possessions and owning only the things that we’ve brought into our lives completely deliberately.
Sources & Resources
(1) “The Relationship Between Minimalism and Mental Health” by Jennifer L. Hartwell. The full study should be available at https://miadanielle.com/ but at the moment the URL returns a ‘page not found’ result. (I have contacted the site owner.)
- The Minimalists: https://www.theminimalists.com/
- Becoming Minimalist: https://www.becomingminimalist.com/
- Minimalism Life: https://minimalism.com/
- Sustainably Kind Living: https://sustainablykindliving.com/category/all-blog-posts/
- Mia Danielle: https://www.miadanielle.com/
- Be More with Less: https://bemorewithless.com/
*In a nutshell (and put more simply), Terry Pratchett was mostly referring to wealthier people being able to afford good quality items, hence they spend less in the long run than poorer folk, who can only buy cheap things that don’t last very long.
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