Contentment and minimalism: Finding happiness through simplicity

For some people, contentment comes naturally right after getting on the path to minimalism. However, for others, it is a process that needs quite some effort and intention. In this article, I will explain my view on these concepts and give you some inspiration on how to actually find contentment through minimalism.

Contentment and minimalism go hand in hand. They can’t exist without one another. If you are a minimalist but not content with what you have, then why would you? Actually, contentment is essential even if you are not a minimalist. This is because being content means enjoying your life, and that is our goal in our everyday life. 

With that being said, it is hard. It’s like finding the sweet spot and then staying anchored in that holy place. But things happen. You might have a newborn and constantly need stuff. Or want to buy a bigger house, or want to change your style of clothes. And things add up. In the end, there are many things that we always wish for. Therefore there is no room for being content with what you have. 

Contentment and minimalism are not something that comes naturally to everyone. Some people may be more frugal by default, while others want to become minimalists because they find a benefit to it but it might be hard for them to find contentment alongside minimalism. 

However, I have developed a step-by-step approach that might help these people to achieve getting into that sweet spot between contentment and minimalism. 

But before I jump into that, I would like to share my experience on how I became content while living a minimalist lifestyle.

My story

Contentment has never come easily to me. Like many people, I have often found myself wanting more. But a while ago, I had a realization that shifted my mindset and helped me understand the importance of contentment in leading a happy and fulfilling life.

I used to get excited about a particular item and immediately buy it, only to find that the excitement and joy it brought me was short-lived. This was especially true for me when buying clothes. Soon enough, I would be searching for the next pair of pants to satisfy my desires. It was a never-ending cycle, and I realized that material possessions were merely a temporary cover for deeper issues in my life.

This realization has been truly life-changing for me. Now, when I feel the urge to buy something, I take a step back and ask myself if I truly need it, or if it will only offer temporary happiness. I remind myself (constantly) that what truly brings me joy and contentment are the things that cannot be bought: spending time with my family, enjoying moments of solitude and reflection, and pursuing my passions and interests. So simple, yet so complex, right?

While it’s not always easy, I continue to strive towards a minimalist lifestyle, with a focus on finding contentment in what I already have. I’ve found that by shifting my priorities away from material possessions, I’m able to live a more fulfilling and meaningful life, which empowers contentment and minimalism.

finding the sweet spot between contentment and minimalism

A step-by-step guide on how to promote contentment and minimalism in your life

1. Identify what makes you happy long-term.

When identifying what makes you happy long-term, it’s important to take a moment to clear your mind and really think about the things that bring you joy. This can be anything from spending time with loved ones, pursuing a hobby or passion, being in nature, or even just enjoying a quiet moment to yourself.

However, if you find that your list includes material possessions or activities like shopping, it’s important to ask yourself whether these things bring you pure happiness or whether they are simply a way to distract you from negative emotions or feelings of dissatisfaction. Many of us have been conditioned to believe that buying more things will bring us happiness, but in reality, this is often a temporary fix that doesn’t provide long-term fulfillment.

Consider whether you tend to go shopping when you are upset or feeling down. If so, this could be a sign that you are using shopping as a way to cope with negative emotions. It’s important to find healthier ways to deal with these emotions, such as talking to a trusted friend or family member, practicing mindfulness or meditation, or engaging in physical activity.

Related: 16 No Shopping Challenges

This step might help you enter the second step with more ease. 

2. Declutter your possessions

As a believer in the concept of “less is more”, I find that decluttering possessions is essential for experiencing contentment. That’s why I recommend taking a tour of your house and mindfully decluttering your belongings. This process can take a few months or longer, or if you prefer, you can declutter in a few days. The most important thing is to let go of items that add to your stress and anxiety. 

Remember, contentment doesn’t come from having everything, because that’s not possible. True contentment comes from realizing that you have enough, and that definition of “enough” will be different for everyone. 

Finding that balance and feeling a sense of “I have enough because I have less” can be liberating and help you achieve a more minimalistic lifestyle.

Decluttering your possessions can be a challenging process, but it’s important to remember that the benefits are worth it. It can lead to a sense of calm and clarity in your mind. You may even find that letting go of physical possessions can help you let go of emotional baggage as well.

Remember that decluttering is a continuous process, and it’s okay to take it one step at a time. By regularly re-evaluating your possessions and letting go of what you no longer need, you can maintain a more minimalistic and content lifestyle.

3. Let go mindfully of your possessions

This step might sometimes be overlooked. However, if you declutter your home and don’t fully let go of your stuff, physically or emotionally, then you might not be ready for contentment in your life. 

It’s not enough to simply get rid of the physical clutter in your home; you must also let go of the emotional attachment that you have to these items. This can be a difficult process, especially if you have a sentimental attachment to certain possessions, but it’s important to remember that these objects do not define you and do not hold the key to your happiness.

Reasons to finally let go of those items

  1. They may be holding you back from moving forward in your life. By holding onto things that you no longer need or use, you are preventing yourself from creating space for new opportunities and experiences. You may also be limiting your own personal growth and development by holding onto objects that are no longer serving a purpose in your life.
  2. It can help you to live a more sustainable and environmentally friendly lifestyle. By donating or recycling items that you no longer need, you are reducing the amount of waste that goes into landfills and helping to preserve the planet for future generations.
  3. It can be a liberating experience. It can free you from the burden of material possessions and allow you to focus on the things that truly matter in life, such as relationships, personal growth, and experiences. By living a minimalist lifestyle, you can create more space, time, and freedom in your life, leading to a greater sense of contentment and fulfillment.

4. Practice gratitude 

Practicing gratitude is a powerful tool to promote contentment and minimalism in your life, and it is a natural consequence of the last points. It involves training your mind to focus on the positive aspects of your life, and acknowledging the abundance that already exists, instead of always wanting more.

Related: 101 things to be grateful for even on gloomy days

While writing down things you are grateful for every day is a good practice, it is important to extend gratitude beyond just a daily list. Incorporating gratitude into your day-to-day activities can be even more impactful. For example, when you wake up in the morning, take a moment to appreciate your comfortable bed or when you sit down to eat a meal, take a moment to appreciate the food in front of you.

The practice of gratitude should not be limited to certain activities or moments of your day. It is a mindset that should be present in everything you do, whether it’s at work, at home, or out in the world. The more you practice gratitude, the more natural it becomes to see the good in your life.

By cultivating an attitude of gratitude, you begin to shift your focus away from what you lack and toward what you have. You become more aware of the things you have and how fortunate you are to have them, and you start to appreciate them more. This can help reduce feelings of stress, anxiety, and discontentment, and promote a greater sense of peace and contentment.

finding the sweet spot between contentment and minimalism

5. Embrace the ups and downs in your everyday life

Today, I wrote down in my journal that the world would be such a happier place if people would just understand that bad moments make good moments so much more precious. 

When we learn to appreciate the ups and downs of life, we begin to realize that even the difficult moments have value and can teach us important lessons. Instead of trying to avoid negative experiences, we can learn to embrace them as an essential part of our journey.

Think about it this way: If we only focused on the good moments in life, we would always be searching for the next high, the next thing to make us happy. But by accepting and embracing the bad moments, we can find a sense of peace and contentment in our lives, even during challenging times.

For me, learning to embrace the ups and downs of life has been a transformative experience. When I was younger, I used to get upset or frustrated whenever something didn’t go according to plan. But as I’ve grown older, I’ve learned to see those moments as opportunities for growth and learning. Of course, I sometimes struggle with that, but with time, I’ve developed a little bit of resilience and a greater sense of inner peace. And as a result, I feel much more content and fulfilled in my everyday life.

6. Live in alignment with your values and things that make you happy.

So we’ve gone through the process of identifying our values and what truly makes us happy, going through decluttering, and starting gratitude practices. And now, the final step is to actually live in alignment with those things. It’s like a big cherry on top of the sundae of contentment and minimalism.

Living in alignment with our values and happiness means being intentional about the choices we make. It means saying “no” to things that don’t align with our values, even if they seem tempting or popular. And it means saying “yes” to things that do align with our values, even if they’re a little scary or unconventional.

When we live in this way, we naturally attract more of what we want into our lives. We start to see opportunities that we might have missed before. We build relationships with people who share our values and support us in our pursuits. And most importantly, we feel a sense of contentment and fulfillment that comes from living a life that is true to ourselves.

Infographic: finding the sweet spot between contentment and minimalism

infographic on finding the sweet spot between contentment and minimalism

Quick tips on how to incorporate contentment and minimalism in your day-to-day life

Practice negative visualization

A negative visualization is a powerful tool for practicing contentment and minimalism. It involves intentionally imagining worst-case scenarios in order to appreciate what you already have and to avoid excessive attachment to material possessions.

You can ask yourself questions like: “What if I lose my job tomorrow? What would I do?” “How would I pay my bills?” “What kind of job could I find?” By visualizing these worst-case scenarios, you can start to appreciate your current job and the stability it provides. Even though you might not like it, try to be content with it and understand that you are lucky enough to get where you are!

Related: The Stoic Art of Negative Visualisation

Imagine yourself being 80 years old

Imagine yourself at 80 and ask yourself what you would regret not doing or what you would be proud of yourself doing. For instance, you may regret spending too much time accumulating material possessions instead of spending time with loved ones or pursuing meaningful experiences or hobbies. Alternatively, you may be proud of yourself for living a simple, intentional life that values relationships and experiences over material possessions.

It can be a very powerful exercise because it helps bring clarity and perspective to your values and priorities. It allows you to reflect on the decisions you make in the present and how they align with your long-term goals and aspirations

Think about material possessions as emotional luggage that you have to carry with you everywhere

It feels kind of exhausting, isn’t it? Always carrying with you emotionally all the possessions that you have. What if you just sell everything and be free of all of that weight that keeps you down?

Just go freely through life and not feel the responsibility to dust all of your belongings. Instead of taking care of all of your possessions, you should take care of yourself. Go experience life.

Even if you have kids (I do, if you are curious!), you can still be free of all those unnecessary toys that your kid doesn’t spend more than 5 seconds at a time playing with. Just let go and be free. And ultimately you will experience contentment. 

Related: Minimalism With Kids: Where to Start?

Go out in nature

Nature embodies the essence of contentment and minimalism. It reminds us that happiness and satisfaction can be found in the simplest things, such as a clear blue sky or the rustling of leaves in the wind. Yet, our modern way of living has disconnected us from this innate simplicity.

By taking the time to go out in nature, we can reconnect with this sense of contentment and minimalism. We can step away from the constant distractions and noise of the city and find peace in the stillness and beauty of the natural world.

As we immerse ourselves in nature, we can begin to appreciate the small things that make life meaningful. We can find joy in the chirping of birds, the gentle flow of a stream, or the colors of a sunset. These experiences can help us cultivate a deeper sense of gratitude and contentment in our lives. Furthermore, nature teaches us the value of minimalism.

Related: Feeling Disconnected: How to Reconnect to Yourself?

We can see that the most beautiful and sustainable systems are often the simplest ones. By embracing minimalism, we can simplify our lives and reduce our dependence on material possessions and consumerism.

Take a moment to slow down

In our modern society, we often equate success and happiness with productivity and busyness. We feel the need to constantly be doing something, achieving something, or working towards some goal. However, this mindset can leave us feeling stressed, anxious, and disconnected from the present moment.

One way to cultivate a sense of contentment and minimalism in our lives is to take a moment to slow down. Instead of constantly rushing from one task to the next, we can pause, take a deep breath, and be present in the moment while drinking a cup of coffee, or simply doing nothing. 

Slowing down can help us embrace minimalism and simplicity. When we are constantly on the go, we tend to accumulate more possessions, commitments, and distractions. However, by slowing down and focusing on what truly matters, we can simplify our lives and reduce our dependence on material things.

Related: How to Slow Down Life: Effective Tips

Final thoughts

Together, contentment and minimalism offer a path to a more meaningful and fulfilling life. By embracing the principles described above, we can find greater peace, happiness, and purpose in our daily lives.

Only by practicing one of those quick tips, or slowly starting on the process of achieving contentment and minimalism, you can notice a difference. It might be small but it might as well change your life by letting you connect to yourself and to those around you. 

Of course, It is not always an easy journey, but it is a journey worth taking for those who are willing to slow down, be present, and appreciate the beauty and simplicity of life.

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