In recent years, minimalism has gained popularity, and an increasing number of people have embraced the minimalist lifestyle. If so many have adopted this way of life, it’s clear that it has some benefits. But the question is: overall, are minimalists actually happier?

Minimalists tend to be happier because their lifestyle allows them to have more time, energy, and freedom than the average person. Moreover, minimalists are happier as they are able to appreciate the little things in life. Gratitude is key when it comes to happiness, and minimalism can help you practice it.

Keep reading to find out more.

Minimalists have more freedom

When we think of a minimalist, we usually imagine an individual who has chosen to reduce the number of his or her possessions: for example, someone who lives in a tiny, clutter-free house or apartment, owns only a few clothes, and does not own material things that don’t directly contribute to their happiness.

We think of minimalism as a lifestyle where you don’t own a lot of stuff and, in general, that’s what minimalism is. However, it goes beyond that. Someone who embraces this kind of lifestyle will also tend to avoid unnecessary obligations and responsibilities, especially when they don’t add value to their life, or the life of the people they love.

In a way, minimalism is about having more freedom by reducing or eliminating all the things that prevent it. And as a result, you will almost always experience more happiness. When you have more freedom than the average person, you can do more and be more, thus living a more fulfilling life.

Minimalists have more time

Have you ever noticed that material possessions eat up a lot of your time? Obviously, you spend time buying things (online, or in person), but it doesn’t end there. Even after you have bought a certain item, you may need to take care of it, clean it, store it, or even just think about it.

Now, some items, such as cars, require a lot of maintenance, while others don’t. And then there’s items that save you time — for example, kitchenware, computers, or household appliances. But more often than not, material things require time, and if you’re already busy because of your job, your family, or any other reason, that’s going to add a lot of stress in your life.

One of the reasons minimalists tend to be happier is that they rarely have to waste their time, at least when it comes to the things they own. The more time you have, the more you are able to do the things you enjoy, as well as interact with the people you love. Minimalism can help you do that.

I would rather have extra space and extra time than extra stuff.

— Francine Jay

Minimalists have more energy

We’ve seen how minimalists end up having more time and freedom, two essential resources, and how that contributes to their level of happiness. But what about energy? That’s pretty important, too — you could have all the time in the world, but if you feel tired and lethargic, you won’t really enjoy life or accomplish anything great.

The truth is that your energy is very limited, even if you are the kind of person who is full of health and vitality. I am referring to both physical energy and focus. And if you have a very demanding career, or your health isn’t optimal, or you have sleep problems, the last thing you want to do is to accumulate objects that drain your energy.

There is no need to turn into an extreme minimalist just so you can have more mental clarity, however you should be aware of which things give you motivation and happiness, and help you accomplish your goals, and which do the opposite.

Minimalists practice gratitude

Because minimalists have learned to live with less, they are able to appreciate all the little things in life, such as eating healthy food, or sleeping in a super comfortable bed. In today’s world, most of us tend to take these for granted, but we shouldn’t.

Way too often, we focus on all the things we don’t have, and forget about the things we do have. This makes us unhappy and unfulfilled — not because we don’t own enough possessions, but because of our own unhelpful thoughts.

A minimalist lifestyle can help you practice gratitude which, in turn, will make you significantly happier. As shown by many studies, you won’t necessarily become happier by accumulating things; gratitude, on the other hand, is almost guaranteed to increase your joy and enthusiasm for life.

Happiness and our environment

In Goodbye, Things minimalist Fumio Sasaki mentions that, according to some scientific studies, genetics determines about 50 percent of our happiness. Our actions would then determine 40 percent of our happiness, while the last 10 percent would be our environment.

Genetics, Actions, Environment

If our environment can only affect our happiness by 10 percent, why spend time accumulating a lot of material possessions? Why not live in a minimalist apartment and free yourself to change your actions, which are 40 percent of your happiness, by saying goodbye to your things? 

For me, minimalism was an essential part of my path to happiness. I now live my days feeling greater happiness than I ever have before. […] Because I don’t own very much, I have the luxury of time. I have better concentration and I am finally focusing on the work that I’ve always wanted to do.

More than anything, though, the biggest change in my behavior since I said goodbye to my things has been the rise of a new sense of everyday gratitude.

— Fumio Sasaki