As a newlywed couple, my husband and I have not only started to live our lives together, but we're now figuring out what kind of lifestyle works for who we are as individuals, as well.
One day, during a car ride home from my parents' house, my better half suggested the idea of minimalism to help shape our new life together.
My initial reaction was a hard no.
I don't think of myself as highly materialistic, but I have a lot of stuff.
And if you had asked me three months ago if I felt like I needed all of it to make me happy, I would have said yes, and that would be the end of it.
It wasn't until I started doing my own extensive research that I put my life and assets in perspective, and asked myself if these physical items lying around the house -- the same physical items I couldn't find a place for -- were playing an active role in my life, and if they truly provided me with a sense of joy.
Between my husband's encouragement and the inspiration I drew from some online research, I've made the conscious, life-altering decision to give minimalism a fair shot.
And here's why you should, too.
1. Less Really Is More
It's unfortunate just how materialistic our society has become.
Between endless Twitter feeds full of political rants and entertainment news broadcasts focusing on "perfect beach bodies," it's hard to keep up with yourself, let alone the Jones (or, the Kardashians, I guess).
“Less is more” sounds cliché AF, but I couldn't be more in favor of the mantra.
Especially since I've made the transition from a large family home to a one-bedroom apartment that has to fit both me, my husband, and all of our belongings.
I have to admit, it's been incredibly cleansing to delegate what I need, as opposed to what I've been keeping purely for the sake of possession.
2. Everything Will Feel Less Overwhelming
The first step in my slow-and-steady transition into minimalist culture has been going through and getting rid of lots and lots and lots of clothes.
Not to sound petty, but this was a really difficult task for me.
I did some research on how to detach myself from the process, and came across a strategy from Marie Kondo, the New York Times best-selling author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
I threw every piece of clothing on the floor as instructed and picked up each item one by one.
If the piece sparked joy, I kept it. But if it didn't, I tossed it.
Now, every morning, when I open my drawer to choose an outfit for the day, I'm not overwhelmed with options, but rather greeted by pieces I love and always feel good wearing.
3. It's A Money-Saver
My husband originally stumbled upon minimalism while researching ways to be thrifty.
At first, I didn't want to hear it. I work hard for my money, and I like to spend it, but what I wasn't understanding was minimalist financing doesn't mean being a penny pincher, but rather, a smart spender.
To be honest, I don't love to spend money all the time, but I'll also admit I can all-too-easily get caught up in a spree at Forever 21 or H&M, trading hard-earned dollars for items that will go out of style in a month or two.
Reverting back to the overarching debate of quality versus quantity, minimalism teaches you to really think about the purchase before making it.
Ask yourself these questions the next time you're browsing the mall: Is this something you really need, or is it something you want? Will you get a significant amount of use out of it? Is this a quality piece to add to your wardrobe/home that will last for years to come?
4. It Will Improve Your Decision-Making Skills
"Want" and "need" are two completely different concepts, both of which are important to consider when it comes to making decisions.
Of course, if you truly want something, and you genuinely feel it will bring you joy, of course you should listen to those emotions.
Minimalism is about maximizing your happiness by narrowing down what happiness means to you.
Once you decipher what it is that makes you happy, it becomes easier to say no to the things that do not serve you.
5. You'll Do More Of What You Truly Love
A common misconception is that minimalism solely revolves around ridding yourself of physical items.
But it isn't a quick-fix purge -- it's a lifestyle, which means revamping your entire way of life.
Money can't buy happiness, so why stay in a six-figure position that takes a negative toll on your mental, as well as physical, state of being?
In a more general sense, why put yourself in any situation that makes you uncomfortable?
One of the many benefits of minimalism is how it teaches you to really take care of yourself by removing yourself from stressful situations, environments, or simply just saying "no" to things your heart isn't genuinely in.
6. Improve Your Relationship With Others
From the outside looking in, minimalism can seem like a selfish, even closed-off way of life.
But this culture is about others as much as it is about yourself.
Personally, I've always been a people-pleaser, and through social circles and work environments, I have an insatiable need to be liked -- so much so that I would dedicate time and energy to impress people I didn't even necessarily care for.
By taking a step back and prioritizing family and friends who love you for you, it becomes easier to detach yourself from those of less importance, and start focusing on the relationships you'd like to strengthen.
7. Mental Health
The clutter that's lying on the floor of your bedroom, outdated issues of your once-favorite magazine spread across the coffee table, a packed social calendar demanding your attendance at this or that event -- all of these factors, both materialist and otherwise, can cloud your brain.
When you're not constantly adding on to a “to-do” list, your mind is clear of stress.
Of course, life happens, and minimalism cannot and will not provide you with a veil of protection from stress and obligation, but it will significantly lessen both in the long run.
This is just an added perk for me since I've always been an organization freak (no kidding, in college I had a wall calendar, desk planner, and a notebook planner, and I would update all of them on a daily basis).
The less you have around, the easier it is to find that important form you need to mail out or that book you enjoyed so much you'd like to read again.
9. Free Of Comparison
Thanks to social media, it's practically impossible not to compulsively compare yourself to others on a daily basis.
But a minimalist lifestyle can help you see through all the BS.
The more you focus on what makes you happy, the less likely it is you'll compare what you have to the material markup of others.
10. Good For The Environment
The less clutter in your house, the less waste you'll produce, which is excellent for the environment.
Refining your wardrobe, eating fewer animal products, driving less, and biking more -- all of these little life alterations will add up to a more positive position for the ecosystem and those who live in it.