The Psychology Of Minimalism: Will Dumping Your Junk Make You Happier?

Minimalism is HOT. While many of us are desperately trying to stop ourselves from ‘hoarding’ (you know who you are!), more and more people are adopting a minimalistic lifestyle. While there are many reasons for adopting such a lifestyle, increasing happiness seems to be a very important one.

Are minimalists onto something? Can you improve your quality of life by decluttering your life?

Declutter Your Life, Declutter Your Mind?

Psychologist and happiness researcher Hein Zegers studied this topic. He explains that having stuff is just like having money. Being without it makes your life harder but having more than you need does not provide any added benefit. Evolutionary psychology explains that our brains were meant for a ‘simple life’. Our ancestors lived in small spaces, owned very little man-made objects and knew only a small group of people. Nowadays we have bigger living spaces which are packed with stuff. It seems that the bigger our house is, the more stuff we collect. Sounds familiar? Plus, our lives are generally extremely full. We have a job, a hobby, family and friends. Not to mention all the online friends we love to keep up with.

Do we NEED all this to be happy? Not everyone thinks so.

The Simple Life: Does Living In A Tiny House Make You Happy?

The minimalist lifestyle is becoming more are more popular. This rapidly growing community strives to adopt a ‘simple life’. Minimalism not just about having less stuff, but more about making a conscious decision about what (possessions, people, activities, ideas) to include in your life. Blogs and YouTube channels on the topic are very popular and growing quickly.
And then there is the tiny house movement. Followers of this movement put the wish of owning less into practice by, you guessed it, choosing to live in a ‘tiny house’. The average small or tiny house is around 30 to max 120 square meters (100 – 400 square feet) and comes in many different forms. Curious? For more information visit The Tiny Life and for some fun examples check out tiny house company Tumbleweed.

So, do they have a valid point? Will a simple life lead to a happier life?

Are Minimalists Happier?

Martin Seligman, also known as ‘the father of positive psychology’, explains that there are three types of happy lives: a ‘pleasant life’, a ‘good life’ and a ‘meaningful life’. According to Seligman, ultimate happiness is achieved when we derive most of our joy from meaning in life. Zegers showed that people who consciously decluttered and strived for simple living experience a ‘meaningful file’ significantly more often.
So how can we overcome our hoarder lifestyles and become minimalists? Zegers suggests the BASICS-therapy, which has the following phases and action steps:

1. Back: Take a step back and become aware of your activities
2. Attention: Pay attention to your surroundings, but also your own thoughts and behavior
3. Select: Determine, based on step 1 and 2, what is important to you
4. Invest: Invest in this
5. Cut: Cut away all that is not adding value to your life
6. Sense: During this final phase, all participants judged their simple life as meaningful

Will you declutter your life on the road to happiness?

Do you find this interesting?
Check out: How To Rewire Your Brain For Happiness And Success – including VIDEO!