How many things do you own? If the answer is less than 100 – congratulations, you may just be a minimalist! At least, that’s a popular definition of minimalism. But, the real point of minimalism isn’t counting how many things you own – it’s about ridding yourself of those things THAT ARE CLUTTERING YOUR LIFE.

We spend money to acquire our “stuff” – sometimes we spend a lot of money, and end up with a lot of stuff. We then spend even more money and time to care for, preserve and showcase our stuff. But we seldom stop to question “What real value is all this bringing to my life?”

To live a minimalist lifestyle is to live a mindful life. It does not mean chucking out everything you own and living a monkish life. Unless, of course, you happen to be a monk. In which case, carry on. But, for practical purposes, minimalism is simply understanding that every possession we own must bring a real value to our lives. The less time, money and energy we spend acquiring and maintaining physical “stuff” we don’t need, the more time, money and energy we have to spend on relationships and activities that actually give us joy and bring meaning to our lives.

Minimalism can be scary because it forces us to look at who we really are and what we truly value. Sometimes we hide behind material possessions. Instead of being expressions of our identity – they become our identity. Without those props to tell the world who we are (or who we want to be), we have no choice but to engage as our most authentic selves.

But, minimalism is also incredibly empowering. It allows us to shift our focus from acquiring and caring for tangible physical objects and hone in on the intangibles that bring real meaning and joy to our lives.

Let’s face it. We all have a limited time to create the life we want to live. We can spend the majority of that time worrying about “stuff” – how much do we have, how do we get more, how do we maintain what we have. Or, we can use our time actually living.

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Yolonda Mays
Yolonda Mays is a Navy veteran, University of Tennessee alumnus, former lifestyle coach and self-proclaimed foodie. She currently works in food service management and spends most of her days obsessing over the price of avocados. You can check out Yolonda's blog at where she writes about everything from budgeting to the relationship between nutrition and emotional health.