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Less is more: you've most likely heard this phrase before, but it barely scratches the surface of minimalist philosophy. Minimalism is more than getting rid of clutter and owning less stuff; it's also a way of life that values purpose and function more than the details. It means eliminating everything that isn't necessary until only the basics remain. Not only does minimalism save time, money, and resources, but it also provides the freedom to enjoy the little things in life. Whether you're creating a more relaxing space at home, or a more productive work environment, embrace the notion that less is more.

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What is minimalism?

Minimalism is simplicity. More than a genre of style, it is a movement and a response to excessive consumerism and living. Rather than trying to tell a story, minimalism focuses on a specific moment, feeling, or experience, and preserves it by stripping away distractions and non-essentials. The result is an elegant blend of function and form. In other words, it is about finding beauty and purpose in simplicity.

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Minimalistic goals for a fresh start

If you're considering a minimalist lifestyle, it's a good idea to establish distinct goals for your transformation. Decide how you want your spaces to work for you, then make a list of the essentials you'll need. Is there anything you forgot to list that you've been taking for granted? Are there things not on the list because they aren't essential? Help the cause by refusing to buy anything new for a length of time. Let go of desiring material possessions. What purpose do they serve in your life?

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Be realistic about your results

Transitioning to a minimalist lifestyle is not easy ⁠— it requires discipline and commitment. Be realistic about how you want to live versus what you can do. Also, keep in mind that getting rid of unwanted possessions isn't going to solve your problems automatically. The process can help you let go of excess baggage, and provide insight as to why you are holding onto items from your past. It isn't necessary to transform your entire living space, and you don't have to get rid of most of what you own to live a minimalist life. Start small in one room, and develop your aesthetic as you strip away the unnecessary.

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Embrace change with an open mind

Adopting a minimalist lifestyle may not be what you thought it was, but that doesn't mean you can't ease into it. Minimalism is freedom from unnecessary burdens and distractions. Your emotional attachment to objects might sound your internal alarm, but remember that objects don't define who you are. You might also learn to appreciate what few items you decide to keep.

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Minimalism as a philosophy

Minimalism is more than an aesthetic. It's also a way to experience the simplicity and beauty of a single moment. What good is refreshing your surroundings if your mind is too cluttered to relax? The fewer distractions taking up precious time, the more you can invest in activities that add to your life. Set time restrictions on mobile social media apps, or better yet, keep them off of your cellphone altogether. Use time saved for reading a book or walking around the parking lot during your lunch break. Instead of watching TV, complete a yoga workout before dinner.

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Minimalism in the workplace

If your workday is lacking productivity, your small business or home office could benefit from a minimalist makeover. Clean lines and empty spaces are less overwhelming to the senses, making it easier to focus and prioritize work. A minimal schedule also helps to boost confidence, while downsizing creates less waste and provides fewer distractions.

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Minimalism as a design aesthetic

Inviting minimalist principles into your home doesn't mean you can't have fun with the décor. Remember, the point of minimalism is to rid yourself of excess — not personality. It's easiest to begin with an empty room, and then introduce items that serve the purpose of the space. A bedroom needs a place to sleep and a bedside table. Additional pieces in the room should contribute to a restful environment, which means no television, exercise equipment, or similarly distracting items. If limited space forces you to create multi-functional rooms, having uncluttered, purposeful furnishings will keep the room from feeling too full.

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Why is minimalism necessary?

Minimalism is a way to let go of belongings that are more of a burden than an asset. Often, material possessions can be representative of our former selves, making it difficult to let go of the past and grow from our experiences. Minimalism also creates freedom from too many choices, since your options are limited to a selection of hand-picked essentials. If your home is a multi-generational household, adopting minimalist principles could be the answer to living together clutter-free.

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How do we accumulate so much stuff?

In a society that values material possessions and wealth, some people learn to define self-worth through their belongings. Some may fear change, while others are afraid to confront their emotional attachment to things. Obtaining a new possession can also lead to the urge to buy more things, leading to an endless cycle of consumerism. These new purchases can add up to more clutter and distractions.

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Minimalism in modern art

Maybe you enjoy the minimalist aesthetic, but you don't see yourself downsizing anytime soon. That doesn't mean that you can't enjoy the simplicity of clean lines and geometric forms. Minimalist art focuses on the artwork itself. It is impersonal, objective, and unexpressive. By using simple forms and eliminating extra elements, viewers can focus on their visual response as opposed to reacting emotionally. Including such pieces in your minimalist space adds visual interest to the room without competing for attention.

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