The Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Minimalist (And Why Minimalism Makes You Happier)

Note: This post may contain affiliate links which means if you click on a link and purchase an item, we will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you.

“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.” -Marcus Aurelius

The idea that we need material things to be happy is false. Studies show that beyond $75,000 per year (in the U.S.), happiness does not increase.

We’re supposed to work hard and buy things that will showcase our “success” in life. We’re used to seeing people brag about what they own and to show off their wealth with fancy cars and shiny watches.

I have one thing to say: Fuck that.

Everything I own fits into two backpacks. I’ve been a minimalist and a frugalist since early 2017, and I wouldn’t live life any other way.

Despite what society programmed into my brain as a child, I’ve found that owning less brings me peace and happiness.

If you gave me a million dollars, I would continue to live the exact same life that I’m living now.

Why Am I Happier As A Minimalist?

  1. Instead of buying things, I buy the freedom to spend my time exactly how I want to spend it
    1. The fact that my lifestyle costs ½ to ¼ of many of my peers enables me to take much bolder business and life risks, to not have to do things (or jobs) that I don’t enjoy doing, and it has enabled me to financially retire at a young age
    2. If you don’t mind living in poor living conditions and if you don’t spend money on things, you’ll have a lot more flexibility to start a business and to chase your dreams
  2. By devaluing my relationship with things, it has forced me to strengthen my relationship with myself and to take ownership of my happiness and state of mind.
    1. I no longer believe that I can improve my quality of life by acquiring more material goods.
    2. Instead, I’m focused on trying to enjoy every day and spend my time in ways that bring me meaning
  3. By owning very little, I’m able to freely travel around the globe
    1. Because I can pack everything I own in less than an hour, it’s easy to pack up and head somewhere new. Thus, when Coronavirus broke out, I was able to painlessly move my flight, pack my things, and leave Indonesia the next day.

Examining Society’s Broken Relationship with Things and Happiness

What is Minimalism?

Minimalism is more than just the act of owning fewer things, it’s about living an efficient, streamlined, and deliberate life.

“The minimalist lifestyle is about living with only the things you need. Minimalists are free from the desire to buy and accumulate more. Instead, they find happiness in relationships and experiences.” –Joshua Becker

“Omit needless things: not that you have as little as humanly possible, but that every thing you do have counts.” –Leo Babauta

Minimalism In My Life & Businesses

  1. Life
    1. I have a minimalist wardrobe: 7 shirts, 1 pair of pants, 1 pair of shoes
    2. I don’t own anything that I can’t travel with: No pets, no cars, no house, no furniture
    3. Everything must fit in my two bags: If I buy something new, I likely have to get rid of something else
    4. If it doesn’t add value or bring me joy, I get rid of it
    5. I try to avoid expensive goods because they come with the stress of trying not to damage or lose them
    6. I generally gift (and ask for gifts) that are experiences, not things
  2. Work and Digital Minimalism
    1. No phone calls, no meetings, and I keep my phone on do not disturb at all times
    2. Almost all interviews happen via written applications and online chat
    3. I only start digital businesses that scale without a significant increase in human labor

How To Become A Minimalist

1. Become a nomad (spend time long-term traveling)

You can read our ultimate guide to digital nomading here.

This is how I became a minimalist and I believe it’s the fastest shortcut to minimalism and to breaking free from society’s mental programming. It’s also what led me to start this blog :).

My happiness path was Nomading > Minimalism > Freedom > Happiness.

Nomading uniquely combines minimalism with new experiences in a way that will show you how much fun life can be without things (because traveling is awesome!).

If you travel long-term, you’re likely forced to end your lease and either sell all of your things (do this!) or put everything into storage.

You’re then forced to live out of a suitcase or a backpack for an extended period of time. And once you start living life this way, you may realize how freeing it is to not be burdened with things.

And for me, it’s that freedom that has led me on a path to being a very happy human!

2. Learn about minimalism and implement it within your existing lifestyle

This is the more practical path for most people (and it’s also the area that I’m less familiar with).

For this reason, I spent about ten hours scouring the internet to assemble the best actionable resources if you’re interested in becoming a minimalist!

  1. Philosophy
    1. What is Minimalism? (Video, 3 Mins)
      1. Minimalism is about rejecting excess, possessions, and distractions
      2. It’s about focusing on purpose, happiness, and passion
    2. The Minimalism Principle: Omit Needless Things (Article, 4 Mins)
      1. Own less, buy less, do less.
    3. Minimalist Lifestyle: 5 Life-Giving Truths From Years of Living with Less (Article, 5 Mins)
      1. Desiring less is even more valuable than owning less.
      2. Apply the journey towards less inward.
      3. The potential of minimalism lies in the addition, not the subtraction.
    4. Best Book: The More of Less by Joshua Becker (Book Summary)
      1. Minimalism is a gateway to freedom
  2. Home Cleaning
    1. How to Declutter Your Home: 10 Creative Decluttering Tips (Article & Video, 6 Mins)
      1. Fill an entire trash bag with things to donate to Goodwill
      2. Donate clothes you never wear
      3. Start with 5 minutes at a time
    2. Don’t Just Declutter, De-Own (Article, 4 Mins)
      1. “Owning less is far more beneficial than organizing more.”
    3. Best Book: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo (Book Summary)
      1. Do a massive overhaul of your things in one big swoop, not in small increments
      2. Only keep things that bring you joy or have a purpose, get rid of everything else
  3. Clothing
    1. How Many Clothes Do I Need? A Practical Guide to Owning Fewer Clothes (Article & Video, 5 Mins)
      1. Admit that you own too much clothing
      2. Purchase quality over quantity and avoid sale racks
      3. Donate, sell, recycle or discard.
    2. How to Build A Capsule Wardrobe
      1. Why downsize? Reduce decision making fatigue and focus on what matters
      2. Follow her detailed system for eliminating items from your wardrobe!
  4. Digital
    1. Best Book: Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport (1 Hour Class, Book Summary, Full Book, Audiobook)
      1. Digital Minimalism: “A philosophy of technology use in which you focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that strongly support things you value, and then happily miss out on everything else.”
      2. Digital Declutter: A practice in which you define your technology rules, take a thirty-day break, and reintroduce technology.
      3. Source: Book Summary
  5. Business
    1. Best Book: Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown (Book Summary)
      1. What is essential? Eliminate everything else.
      2. Figure out where you can make the greatest impact, then focus your time/energy there and create streamlined systems to enhance your execution.
  6. Other
    1. Minimalism FAQs (Article, 6 Mins)
      1. “Minimalism is a way of eschewing the non-essential in order to focus on what’s truly important, what gives our lives meaning, what gives us joy and value.”
      2. Benefits of minimalism? Lower stress, less expensive, less debt, less cleaning, more enjoyable, more room for creating, for loved ones, for peace, for doing the things that give you joy, and for getting healthy. It’s more sustainable. It’s easier to organize. These are only the start.

Bonus Video: How Minimalism Makes You Happier (by me)

I've been building digital businesses, wandering the world, and writing about optimizing life for freedom since early 2017. My mission is to lower the barrier for people who want to live with more freedom: whether that be as an entrepreneur, a digital nomad, an early retiree, or just as someone who wants to live a happiness-driven life.