What Stops People From Living A More Minimalist Lifestyle?

I’m a big fan of the simple life – having no clutter, peace of mind, focusing on something greater than the pursuit of material consumption – it’s one of the best ways to live. It is so freeing.

You don’t have to deny yourself all of what life has to offer. Hell I like to splurge on ice cream sometimes. Well a lot of the time but that’s a different issue.

There are some people out there who say they want to live the simple life.

But just can’t seem to figure out what it really is and how to get to a more minimalist lifestyle.

They try but come up short and it’s usually mostly because of one or all of the following three reasons.

Reason #1: They Don’t Have a Great Reference Group.

Normally when you hear the term reference group, you automatically think of the people you habitually associate with, which is true, but your reference group can expand further beyond that.

It can also include everything you habitually hear on the radio, watch on the TV, read in the magazines, in short the media. Technology has “improved” to the point where we are saturated in it without even realizing it.

It has become our second “shadow” reference group.

Celebrities do not live in the real world. They get almost everything for free. They are not living paycheck to paycheck.

The more things regular people buy, the more hidden ownership costs start to arise – insurance, repair, maintenance, etc.

And that further puts them in a bind to come up with the money to pay for all these things to the point where that becomes their entire focus – trying to pay for everything they’ve accumulated.

And to add salt into the wound, if your actual social group enjoys the pursuit of material consumption, it will keep you going on the treadmill. It will make it ten times harder to get off because you don’t want to “fall behind” your peers. You want to keep it up.

Cut the media from your life and start limiting the time you spend with people who only like the pursuit of material consumption.

There will be no pressure to follow and you’ll experience a breath of fresh air to pursue a simpler way of living.

You may need to examine who you actually hang out with. If your core values are no loner aligned with those of your social group it may be time to reevaluate things.

Harsh I know but it is for your own good.

Reason #2: No Triggering Event.

It’s easy for people to continually do the things they’re doing unless something BIG happens.

Change happens in either one of two ways.

One is a war of attrition. Constant hammering, repetition, just a good old pounding everyday. You just get tired eventually of slogging away and finally realize that maybe a more minimalist way of living may actually be better(yes it is!)

The second way is the triggering event.

Something big, something emotional, something shocking, something painful, something that will just throw the whole kitchen sink at a person to stun them to the point where their whole way of thinking is shaken.

That’s the triggering event most people need to literally “restart” their way of thinking and in the precious time after the triggering event, to “embed” a new program. Reboot the hard drive.

We’re seeing how the economy is acting like a triggering event for a lot of people.

People have been hit hard – job layoffs, investments taking a beating, sources of credit drying up – it has shaken their way of thinking and forced them to take a serious look at how they spend their money.

Many people are actually enjoying cutting back. They are realizing the benefits that they experience as a result – more leisure time, less stress, peace of mind, more time with family and friends, indulgences in simple pleasures, etc.

Without a triggering event to “derail” the train of thought most people have when it comes to money and work and consumerism, it will be very hard to change toward living a simple life.

Reason #3: A Lack of a Goal Outside of Material Consumption,

When you’re striving for something more than material consumption, all of that stuff – accumulation of material goods, keeping up with Joneses, etc. – you have a greater clarity of what is truly important.

You’ll shake your head and wonder why you even wanted a life of wanting stuff in the first place.

That’s the problem with people who live a life of material consumption.

That’s all there is.

And it’s a road that gets old really quick.

We can only indulge ourselves so much before it gets old. Wanting more stuff is the only thing that gets us “turned on” so to speak.

It’s when we turn our attention to others that we really start getting fulfilled.

And when you find something more to do with your life than to consume, something you’re passionate about, something that’s meaningful to you, that makes a difference to people around you, you’ll find your whole life will start to revolve around that.

For me it is meaningful travel. Seeing as much of this amazing planet as possible. I want to spend time in places and help out with different things. So this is something I am striving towards.

What is it for you?

What are you passionate about?

Why is it that you want to live a more simple life? A more minimalist lifestyle perhaps?

Share your thoughts in the comments. I love hearing from you!

Please share this post using social media.

Thanks and have an awesome day!

“Live Simply”


29 thoughts on “Top Reasons People Don’t Live Simply And How To Change Them

      1. In addition to a mental yearning for simplicity, I am also facing a financial crisis. The clutter around me feels stifling. The effort to keep up is overwhelming. I think it’s time to simplify and get back to the basics. I think it would be good for my family. We’re planning to cancel cable and have a big yard sale for starters.

  1. I am fairly new to minimalism but I realised a lot of what I was buying was hope. I have suffered social phobia and there was alway something to buy that offered the ‘magic cure,’ or made me more ‘acceptable.’ Yet, the thing that stopped me from really getting over the problem was the fear how I would cope if I was successful. I felt I would be pressured into buying clothes I didn’t want, going to places I didn’t like etc. It was like a light bulb moment that suddenly I could see I had struggled all my life because of feeling I had to buy to belong. Since turning to minimalism may confidence has grown – well who would have thought it the answer was inside of me all along!

  2. For me, there was a concatenation of inciting events (Concatenation – I love that word!) – the death of my husband six years ago, which knocked our finances, not to say our life, for a loop, and since then the repeated realisation that (a) I’m really crapdoodles at budgeting, and (b) we’re going to sink under the rising tide of useless belongings soon if we don’t stop accumulating!
    So now it’s a matter of sifting through our wants to see which of them qualify for the Gold List. We don’t eat out very often now; we don’t go to the cinema multiple times a week; and we’re all sorting through our boxes and boxes of stuff to see what we truly love and what can go to charity – personally, I’m finding it’s at least 50% getting tossed.

  3. Sub consciously my decision was made last fall and now I am going thru a divorce. I gladly leave behind a 3500sf house in Oklahoma and am moving to NYC. NYC is not noted for large apartment and closet space.I filled 6 Black lawn and leaf bags of clothes for goodwill. I will probably have to go thru my clothes one more time. The stuff did not make me happy! I will take art with me and my treasured books. I started a blog to journal my journey where I did address this topic. http://www.positivenandgrateful.com

  4. One of the things that started my life of accumulation was having kids. Before then I was happily sailing (crewing) on sailboats in the South Pacific with a small bag of clothes (and a portable Olivetti typewriter — ’70s, mind you). Then I had kids, one born needing medical care. So we returned to the U.S. and jumped unwillingly onto the hamster wheel: needed a house to shelter the children, keep them warm; needed decent clothes so they didn’t look like refugees of war (I sewed them or got the best I could from thrift stores in the beginning); but the pressure of their friends looking at their shabby rooms made me want to spruce them up, make them prettier, make the house prettier, buy those knickknacks to put on the walls; get rid of the couch that had the cement block holding up one corner of it, buy a real couch, buy a real bed and get rid of the stained futon on the floor. And yes, the more you buy, the more you have to work to pay for it, and being self-employed, the more stuff I needed to grow my business to get enough work to pay for it all. Having had old beater cars break down in snowstorms with babies in arms who got deathly ill afterwards, well, easy to decide: I needed to jump in and buy a new car that wouldn’t break down on me, which added a car payment and very expensive insurance. And the hamster wheel spins faster.

    So a lot of it is having children. Before I had kids, I lived in a thatched hut I built in New Zealand for a year and a half, I sailed from island to island, earned about $1500 in seven years, caught a lot of fish, ate a lot of local wild greens and bananas and coconuts. Best years of my life.

    But I did wake up. My kids grew up and moved out. By then I had a 2,000-sf house and a big shop and and and. And one day I said, I don’t want any of it. Short-platted 10 acres and sold the house and five acres; hung onto five acres of forested land in the mountains of the Columbia Gorge and up and moved to Costa Rica, buying a little 500-square foot house (to which we added on a little). Brought some bedding, a couple laptops, some clothes with us; bought a few kitchen items, a couple sitting chairs and a table. Refuse to have a car. Walk everywhere or take the local chicken buses. Got two acres of bananas and coffee and fruit trees and lots of birds….

    Whoops. Didn’t mean to take over your blog! Ha. I’m just in total agreement with you. Simple is waaayyy better. Happiness is waaay easier to touch, feel, wrap yourself in. Learning Spanish, teaching English, walking, feeding bananas to the birds, writing little blogs. Yep, we’re onto something good.

    Oh, for the gal who wants to move to NYC, the apartments might be small, but they’re expensive, and therein begins the spinning of the hamster wheel — me thinks. Survival depends on the outside world bringing in food, electricity. You have to have a wardrobe to go to work…. at least me thinks it starts getting real complicated living in big big cities. Me thinks.

    Pura Vida

  5. My two mini triggering events were watching Fight Club (“The things you own end up owning you.) and a book called “Radical” by David Platt. He talks about getting back to a biblical anti-materialism. I’ve found that when I focus on having less myself so that I can give more to others, it’s easier to keep myself from getting bogged down by things I want.

      1. Yes, I definitely recommend it. I’ll reiterate that it is based in a Christian worldview, so your mileage might vary because of that. Its all about turning the American dream on its head. If you read it, I’d love to know what you think!

  6. Spending time with my family and the farm is my passion. They are also my trigger! My husband loves to garage sale and collect “stuff”. Over the years I have allowed it to creep into my way of doing things. I have this constant nagging voice in the back of head that I need to be in the house cleaning or outdoors organizing “stuff”. I started to minimize yesterday, simply starting with the biggest eye sore in my house, my desk!

  7. Loving your posts! Hoping they kick me in the rear and get me to declutter my life. My first goal: cleaining off the front porch so I can focus on my passion, painting. The porch is the “studio” and general dumping ground of unwanted but “maybe I’ll use it in the future” stuff.

  8. I’m not sure if I had a triggering event, but my main hobbies consume a lot of time, and are not related to material consumption. After growing up outside of a hunting culture in New Hampshire, I’ve become a bow-hunter in Kentucky. I love to garden. I like to write. Besides hunting (which can lead to buying a lot of stuff), then things I enjoy during my free time are almost completely removed from acquiring new things.

  9. As baby boomers, it becomes more and more evident that we are not our stuff. Everyday I spend 15 minutes removing unnecessary, unloved and unused items for our home. Over the course of 5 years or so, it has made a huge difference. And now, prior to purchasing anything that doesn’t have a shelf life, we decide what will go. Most of the time this works pretty well. We stopped antiquing years ago, and now birdwatch where the only thing we bring home is our memories.

  10. My trigger event was a house move. I’m not sure if I moved house as an excuse to clear the clutter or cleared the clutter because I moved house (the former I think). I now have more time to devote to my family, friends, writing and trying new experiences. I have taken up dancing and made new friends as a result. My creative urge has returned because I have the time and space for it. I feel so much happier.

  11. My Triggering event was losing a high paying job and getting a divorce at the same time 4.5 years ago. It has woken me up to the fact that, like the quote says, my things were owning me. Since then I’ve been reading about mindfulness and other Buddhist teachings, reducing my debt, reducing my clutter (this process here seems unending) and moving out of my house to something much smaller and easier to maintain. I’ve also started running, a very simple exercise that clears my head and fits with my new minimalist lifestyle. Thank you for your blog.

  12. Stopping all magazine subscriptions )no more “gotta have this” advertising) + Stopping all catalogues (no more “your life will not be complete without this” brainwashing) = no temptation to buy things I don’t need and don’t even really want. Now I view it as a game. Big money is trying their best to make me give my money to them, and I am not going to let them win.

  13. I’ve been thinking about it, but I feel like I already have cut down on stuff. I don’t collect useless stuff, everything I have, has a reason an/or purpose.

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