Principles from minimalism that I try to live by

Naturally, I am a bit of a hoarder. I don’t necessarily buy a lot, but I have trouble throwing things away. I love to keep things around from my childhood and as a kid I definitely would have kept a lot of crafts I made in school if my mom wouldn’t have made me throw them out. I often hold on to silly stuff like plane and train tickets, or even entrance tickets on holiday, thinking that maybe I’ll one day use them in a scrapbook even though I’ve never made a scrapbook in my life and probably never will.

At the same time I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of being able to pack up all of your stuff in one bag and travel the world. Watching YouTube videos of minimalist packing is what originally introduced me to minimalism. Now of course minimalism does not necessarily mean owning that little. In essence, it is all about living a simpler life with only the stuff that you need or that brings value and joy to your life. This is supposed to give you less stress, less stuff to clean, less stuff to worry about, a clearer mind and more time and money. I’m not really sure whether minimalism can really make all these claims come true – but it can’t hurt trying because those are definitely things I could use in my life. So although I wouldn’t call myself a minimalist, in the past year I’ve been slowly trying to incorporate the following principles from minimalism into my life.


When I started trying to be more minimalist, the first thing I was inspired to do was decluttering. I’ve always grown up with the idea that it’s a waste of money to throw something away if you can still use it. So when it comes to clothes for instance, I would try to wear things that I did not like anymore because I felt like I should wear it simply because I paid for it. In order to declutter my stuff I had to change my mindset and learn that it is not a waste if you donate your clothes and make someone else happy with them. I also had to learn to not hold onto things simply because I have had them for so long or because I felt like they could be useful later. I think some things are useful to keep around “just in case”, but sometimes you need to be honest and admit you’re never going to use it.

However, being the sentimental person that I am, decluttering doesn’t mean I am going to get rid of all sentimental stuff. I want to keep my old toys, my children’s books, the binder with drawings from when I was in kindergarten. Maybe all these things aren’t useful, but they have value to me and bring me joy. I think it is absolutely okay to keep sentimental stuff, as long as it really has value to you and you don’t keep it just because you have trouble getting rid of things. That being said – I do still have old school exams lying around somewhere that I will definitely need to throw out.

Three bags of clothes I recently decluttered. Two small other bags have already gone into recycling.

Being mindful about purchases

This is something I’ve actually always incorporated into my life to some extent. I have always lived by the rule “when in doubt, don’t buy it” and that has definitely saved me from doing some impulse purchases. However, I would still occasionally end up buying things that I regretted later. Usually this was because they were on sale and seemed like a good deal, or because I would imagine myself owning it in some ideal future life, even though in real life I wouldn’t use or wear it. So since starting this minimalist journey I’ve tried more and more to not only ask myself whether I really like something, but also whether I really need something. I still fail at this sometimes, and I also think it’s okay to occasionally buy stuff you don’t really need but just want. For instance, no one really needs to own physical media like DVDs or CDs – but if I really love an album or movie I also like to buy a physical copy of it. Still, it’s always good being more mindful about your purchases as this will really help keeping the clutter at bay and save a lot of money as well.

Simplified routines

In the past few months I have tried to simplify my make-up and beauty routines. I’ve never actually worn a lot of make-up or had extensive beauty routines, but I used to be a little random and disorganized when it came to these things. I would buy a foundation because I thought it’s something I needed to have, and then end up only wearing BB-cream. I would buy anti-acne products or face masks or hair products without knowing what I was doing or what kind of products I actually needed to use, so I would always end up only using them a couple of times just to find out they didn’t work or weren’t practical for me. And then I’d feel like I had to keep them because well, I had paid for it and maybe I’d use them again someday! Which of course, I never did. So at some point I decided to do some research, find out what kind of products I actually need, and start an actual simple, minimalist beauty routine. I am still in the process of figuring all of this out, so I do still own some products that I never use and that I might just have to donate or throw out at some point – but I’m slowly getting there.

Minimalist packing

Of course, the thing that originally got me interested in minimalism should also be on this list. I am in no way as good at minimalist packing as some of the people in the packing videos on YouTube, but I do want to travel with carry-on luggage only. I bought a 40 litre carry-on backpack recently and it’s already been really useful on longer trips. For shorter trips I usually take my old school backpack. It’s around 13 years old and not available anymore in the Netherlands, so I’m not sure how much litre it is – but it’s very useful and I love it. Another thing that I bought for traveling and can’t live without anymore are packing cubes. They make it so much easier to pack your stuff efficiently and have everything fit in your bag easily. If I’m being really honest, that sometimes results in me just packing as efficiently as possible to make as much stuff fit in as I can. I am really good at packing extra stuff “just in case” if I still have space anyway. But I’m sure that the more I travel, the better I will become at only taking what I really need.

white minimalist looking drawer with clothes on it

So those are four of the things I do to try and become a little more minimalist. I want to save money and time for the things I really value, not for materialist things that I don’t really need in my life. Additionally, I believe a more minimalist approach to life is not only good for yourself, but also for the environment as you’re not contributing as much to a consumerist lifestyle and producing less waste. And that’s really important to me as well.

Are you a minimalist or trying to be more minimalist, and what does that look like for you? Do you do it for yourself, environmental reasons or both? Let me know in the comments!

One thought on “Principles from minimalism that I try to live by

  1. This post is so helpful! I’m very much the same when it comes to throwing things away, it’s so hard :O I definitely have to sit down and go through a lot of stuff to see what I can get rid of (like old exams etc like you said haha I’m sure I’ve got lots of those laying around haha)
    Also really like the idea of simplifying routines! Never really thought about that when I think about minimalism but it’s definitely something I need to start doing that 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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