willpower - postDo you ever feel like you have too much stuff?

Barely-used tech gadgets. Cabinets full of kitchen supplies. Sweaters that’re too small. Books and VHS tapes collecting dust on the shelves.

If that sounds way too familiar…

…then you need to learn about minimalist living (living without nonessential possessions, with just the minimal requirements).

Now, I know what you’re thinking:

I bought/keep my stuff because I like it… why should I commit to living with less, and give up all the things I love?

Well, you don’t have to. Becoming minimalist doesn’t mean throwing everything you own in the trash, and/or living like a monk.

Minimalism does mean a stronger focus on the things that really matter in life (things like relationships and experiences)… instead of your stuff. Out of this re-focused living, you can live a richer, more fulfilling life and become a deeply happier man.

So… to help you fully understand minimalist living (and start a minimalist lifestyle), I’ve put together this primer to becoming minimalist. It’s everything you need to know, from what, exactly, minimalism is, to 5 simple on how to minimalize.

A Man’s Primer to Minimalist Living


If you’re truly interested in becoming a minimalist, I highly suggest you read through this entire guide… but if you’re looking for something specific, you can use the table of contents below:

What, Exactly, is Minimalism?

Minimal living is a pretty new, undefined idea… and, surprisingly, there isn’t even a dictionary definition of what a minimalist lifestyle is.

But when I studied modern minimalist experts, I found that they do share a common opinion of the lifestyle:

Minimalism is a lifestyle in which people strip away ‘excess’ (things they do not need), live with few possessions, and value things that aren’t material goods.source 123

In other words:

Minimalists value people and experiences hugely more than material things.

To help you fully understand the concept, here are a couple of iconic minimalists (and their lifestyles):

Iconic Minimalist #1: Mahatma Gandhi

minimalist living - ghandi

Mahatma Gandhi, one of the most powerfully impactful human rights leaders in history, was a famous advocate of minimalist living. source 1, 2

His minimal lifestyle included owning no possessions, spending hours meditating in silence, and eating a simple, minimal diet.

Gandhi iconically said:

Live simply so that others may simply live”.

To put it a different way:

Place less importance on wealth and possessions (live simply), and more importance on human needs (so that others may simply live).

Iconic Minimalist #2: Leo Babauta

minimalist living - leo babauta

Leo Babauta is a modern minimalist, influential author and blogger. source 1, 2, 3

He has given up most of his possessions (even his car), eats a 100% simple, vegan diet, and allows anyone to use/copy his written works. source

Now:

Even though Babauta has the opportunity to own material things, he doesn’t want more possessions… instead, he places his value on relationships source and sharing his ideas with others (by letting them use his works for free).

Here’s the bottom line:

Present day minimalists, and minimalists throughout history, show us that to be minimalist is to value people and experiences vastly more than possessions.

Why Any Man Can Become a Minimalist

Look, I get it:

The lifestyles that Gandhi and Babauta chose sound so drastic. They’ve lived with very few possessions… and other hardcore minimalists eat extremely minimal diets, take in minimal tv/media, and may even live moneyless. So… at first glance, living minimally isn’t the most exciting, appealing lifestyle to everyone.

But here’s the thing:

You can be a minimalist and still own a house, car, full wardrobe, tech gadgets, and sentimental items.

…And it’s not true that to be a minimalist, you have to give up your income, sell your car, or become a vegan.

Minimalism isn’t about giving stuff upit’s about enjoying other things more than possessions, and understanding that you don’t need possessions to be a happy, successful man. That’s why any man, no matter how much he owns, can become a minimalist.

The Powerful Freedom of Minimalism

minimalist living - freedom

There are plenty of benefits of living with less stuff (more space, finding items easier, less to move)… but the most powerful benefit of minimalist living can be easily summarized by one word:

Freedom.

When you minimalize, you’re not weighed down by clutter (your impractical possessions), you get three powerful freedoms:

  1. Freedom to focus on work/creative hobbies (clutter is incredibly distracting source)
  2. Freedom to save for retirement instead of buying more stuff source 1, 2
  3. Freedom to have impactful experiences, instead of buying items (people are hugely happier when they spend money on experiences source)

Think about it like this:

If you don’t spend all your money buying stuff (or taking care of stuff you already have), you’re free to spend it on dates. Or skydiving. Or a weekend camping trip. And when you get home from those activities, and you’re ready to relax, your home is clean, quiet and peaceful.

Here’s the bottom line:

Minimal living just makes your life simpler… it frees you from wasting time/space on material things… and frees you to do what makes you happy.

5 Effective Steps to Become a Minimalist

Here are 5 essential steps to help you begin your journey toward becoming minimalist.

To make the steps as helpful as possible, I’ve included several other resources that can empower you to complete each step.

Step #1: Discover the values and blessings that drive you

So, if minimalists place very little value on possessionswhat do they value instead?

Well, it depends… everyone’s personal values are different. But once you do discover the things you value, it can be significantly easier to give up material possessions… because you’ll care more about your values than your stuff.

For example:

If you value fitness, you’ll care about joining a gym, entering marathons, getting a trainer, etc. You won’t care as much about gaining possessions, because your value is how strong/powerful your body is… not how many items are in your home.

If you determine your personal values, you can have a focal point for your life, besides your stuff.

Are you stuck, trying to think of your values? Here’s a resource to help you define/discover what yours are.

The second driving force of a minimalist (after personal values) is non-material blessings.

Think about it like this:

We all have so much that we take for granted (things like internet, clean water, and education). The most valuable things aren’t physical possessions… it’s the things you can’t touch that add the most value to your life.

See this list of 101 things to be grateful for, to help you count your non-material blessings.

Here’s the bottom line:

Your personal values and non-material blessings will be around much longer than anything you can buy. To be truly minimalist, first treasure those values and blessings above material things.

Step #2: Declutter your home

It can be incredibly freeing to toss/donate some of your possessions… if you care about values and blessings hugely more, stuff just doesn’t matter.

Now, for most men, throwing things away isn’t always easy

…but as you get rid of clutter, you’ll start to realize that letting things go opens up space in your home, frees up time to pursue manly hobbies, and frees up money to spend on adventures.

Here’s a quick list of things to minimalize and declutter:

  • Desk. You’re incredibly more productive in a clean workspace.source Throw away everything on your desk you don’t need or use, and file what needs to be saved.
  • Inbox. Delete, archive or file every email, until your inbox is clear.
  • Closet. Donate anything that doesn’t fit, or you don’t wear. If you’re left with a very thin selection, see our Essential Wardrobe guide to build an essential minimalist wardrobe.
  • Garage. If you don’t use an item regularly, toss/donate/sell it (unless you feel it has deep sentimental value).

Remember: since your values and blessings drive you, you don’t need more stuff to make you a better man.

Step #3: … Now don’t re-clutter your home

Imagine this:

You’ve completed the 2 steps above. You have a powerful list of your personal values, and your house is completely clutter-free. You feel relaxed, happy and de-stressed…

…until someone points out that you could fit an entire stereo system on the top row of your office shelf.

And suddenly, you start to contradict your new lifestyle.

I mean, a stereo system would fit there…

That exact moment… that’s where many new minimalists fall back into old habits. They’ll start to believe that they’re still defined by the things they own (a nice car, $5,000 watch, 90-inch tv, etc.).

In that moment, you’d have to remember that internal driving forces (values, and things to be grateful for) give your life meaning… not external purchases.

It’s hard at first, but a few good habits can greatly help you stick to your new lifestyle:

  • Don’t buy something just because it’s a good deal
  • Block your top shopping websites, and don’t wander into stores
  • Take a list when you go shopping (online or in person), and stick to it

Minimalist living isn’t always easy… but you can make it easier on yourself if you set good habits from the start.

Step #4: Use your extra time to reach powerfully manly goals

minimalist living - what drives you
Look… I get it:

If you’ve spent a lot of time working/planning for a new purchase (a new car, a new gadget, or upgraded house)it’s incredibly hard to stop reaching for those goals.

But here’s the thing:

As a minimalist, you can use spare time to do other things, besides dream about more stuff.

Try this:

Instead of setting a goal to save for purchases, try to reach a goal that helps you become a better man:

  • Become an expert woodworker, marksman, or blacksmith (yes, this is still a thing)
  • Increase your fitness by bodybuilding, running, or mountain biking
  • Learn how to cook, restore a car, brew beer or play music
  • Or pick up one of these other manly hobbies

Here’s the bottom line:

Purchasing and collecting items don’t make us better men… but learning and creating (like the goals above) can.

Step #5: Use your extra money for hobbies, experiences, or giving… not possessions

The idealistic vision of a minimalist (like Gandhi) is usually a drifter who lives in a tent, gives away his car, and doesn’t care about money.

But that’s not realistic.

Even if other minimalists live like that, you shouldn’t stop earning as much money as you want.

Look:

You can absolutely be a minimalist and still earn 6 figures (minimal living is just highly valuing relationships/experiences, remember? Even a rich man can do that).

Plus, if you don’t spend all your money on new stuff, you suddenly have the extra funds to do things like:

  • Travel, or just have adventures with your friends (or girls)
  • Provide gifts/food/shelter for your family
  • Save for retirement (sounds boring, but you’ll definitely want a nest egg when you stop working)
  • Donate time/money to a charitable cause you care about

Remember this:

You don’t have to be broke to be a minimalist. If you simply keep your focus on things that matter (values, experiences, blessings, relationships, giving), you’ll have a minimalist attitude, no matter what you own.

In Conclusion

Minimalist living isn’t always an easy lifestyle to adopt…

…but if you do start to minimalize, you’ll be free to enjoy all the blessings life has to offer besides possessions. Follow this simple guide to becoming minimalist and completely embrace a happy, minimal life.