On Minimalism: Simple Living and the Road to Happiness

At Evernote, we love productivity, but we also care about maintaining balance in our lives. This month, we’re diving into how experts on minimalism stay productive without losing focus on what’s important.

In part two of this series, we learned that there’s an inherent difference between being focused and being busy. In this post, we’ll explore how consumerism connects to depression and the counterpart, how minimalism connects to happiness–a state of frequent positive emotions and a deeper sense of meaning and purpose in life.

Typical American homes are now double the size they were 1950s, we drive fancier cars, and fill our closets to the brim with unworn clothes. Many have even accumulated credit card debt from buying all these things. We’ve been buying more stuff than ever because it brings us instant gratification. And yet, we’re not any happier in the long run. In fact, studies show that consumerism has made us less happy and more miserable.

We recently chatted with Joshua Becker, the man behind Becoming Minimalist, an inspiring blog read by millions of people. As a husband and a father of two,  Joshua and his family live a typical, middle-class lifestyle, minus all of the consumerism. He spends his time helping people uncover the joys, struggles, and lessons you’re bound to experience during your minimalism journey–offering his readers a rational approach to minimalism, one of the many roads to happiness.

Inspiration to live simpler

We asked Joshua what inspired him to become a minimalist and we were touched and filled with guilt by his story. “Every time I received a pay increase, I bought more stuff. One day, I was cleaning out my garage and my son was begging me to play with him, but I was too busy. And here’s where I thought to myself, why am I taking all this time caring for physical things that don’t mean anything to me, and meanwhile, the very thing that means the most to me, is pushed to the back burner?” he told us. How many of us have experienced something similar? We’ve probably all been in a situation where our possessions were actually taking time away from what brings us happiness.

“Meanwhile, the very thing that means the most to me is pushed to the back burner.”—Joshua Becker

If this resonates with you, you’re not alone. It’s not too late to begin simplifying your life, even if you think you’re too knee-deep into consumerism, or perhaps too old. “Oh, no. It’s never too late. I actually think it’s more important for older people who have accumulated a lot of stuff than it is for someone who is younger, who doesn’t have a lot of stuff and has more freedom to easily decide to become and stay minimalist,” Joshua stresses. For the older folks with families who have accumulated a bunch of possessions over the years, there’s a huge opportunity to regain the freedom that you’ve sacrificed with every purchase over the years.

Minimalism and happiness

But, how exactly can minimalism make us happier? “Minimalism in of itself doesn’t make you happier. It’s a means to an end. What it does is frees up our most finite resources. It frees up time, money, energy, and removes stress. It frees up all of these resources that you can now start investing in what brings you purpose. The pursuit of happiness is empty. We find happiness when we find purpose, a life of fulfillment, and our greatest passion,” Joshua explains.

“Minimalism frees up our most finite resources.” —Joshua Becker

Steps to less stuff, and more freedom

If all of the material in your life isn’t making you happy, if you have a hard time getting things done at work, and if you ever feel like you don’t have time for anything you love, minimalism might just be the solution for you. There are many steps you can take to live a minimalist life, but let’s start with the basics:

  1. Understand the meaning of minimalism, what benefits it can bring to your life, and that it’s not always going to be a simple and easy journey.
  2. Begin to declutter your life, step by step. Start with your home, and then move on to your office. And don’t forget to minimize your digital clutter!
  3. Learn the difference between being focused and busy at work and begin implementing deep work into your daily routine.
  4. Do less and live more. Work your way towards a life with fewer distractions and of being in the moment.

So, how about it, are you ready to pursue a happier life? Get started with Becoming Minimalist here and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

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