The Unexpected Side Effects of Minimalism

When I started pursuing minimalism a few years ago, I had some ideas of what I thought it would do to my life. I had done my research. It was going to help me keep my home cleaner, save me money, let me have time to do all the other things I wanted to do… I had it all planned out. I knew exactly what my life as a minimalist was going to look like.

Or, I thought I did.

Nothing ever turns out quite the way we think it will. And while many of my assumptions of what minimalism would do for me turned out to be true, there were a lot of unexpected changes that happened in my life and in my mind.

Don’t get me wrong, they are all good things! Just not what I expected.

I have a better appreciation of white space and silence.

When I first moved into my house, the thought of any space being empty really bothered me. If there was empty wall space, I filled it. Unused room on a bookshelf? I’d get something to put there. Any available space needed to have something in it. A full house was a cozy house, right?

Now, having blank space in the house is something that I find soothing. Exactly the opposite of how I used to be.

Another thing that bothered me was silence. I always had to have music playing, or the tv on in the background. There had to be noise or I was uncomfortable. But why? This habit is something I now know was contributing to my stress level.

I am an introvert. And even though I knew that then, I didn’t know how important silence was to my mental and emotional well-being. 

The more I decluttered, the more I found comfort in the white space, and in the silence.

Are you an introvert, too? Here’s some self-care ideas just for you!

I am much calmer.

I’m sure this has everything to do with not feeling like I have to be running around cleaning all the time. There were days when I would dread coming home from work because all I could think about was the mess and the long do-to list I had. How sad is that? No one should ever dread going home.

But since I’ve decluttered and embraced a more minimal lifestyle, my home has become my safe place. It is my escape.

Now, I still have chores and things I have to do at home, but they have become much fewer. And they also became easier once I got rid of all my stuff. So now when I come home, I’m able to have time to just relax. And I’m ok with slowing down and relaxing. I don’t feel the need to rush to get things done.

14 day self-care challenge

I no longer have the desire or need to touch things while I shop.

Yup, I was one of those people. One step into a store and I would have the overwhelming need to touch every. single. thing. Clothes were the worst. I had to feel everything, even if I wasn’t interested in buying it.

I’m not sure what exactly brought about the change. But I’ve noticed that since I no longer have things high on my priority list, since I’ve found that things don’t make me happy, I have no desire to touch anything when I’m out shopping. If I see something I think I might purchase, that is the only time I’ll pick it up.

I’m still unsure what that even means. But I find it to be a really interesting side effect of my minimalist lifestyle.

Embrace your style and learn how to shop like a minimalist!

My priorities have changed drastically.

When I first started playing around with the idea of minimalism, I was drawn to the idea of spending less time cleaning. Not so I could have more time to relax, but so I would have more time to pack even more things into my already busy schedule.

I wanted to do more things. I wanted to be busier. Because I thought busy meant I was living a productive and full life.

Minimalism taught me the opposite. I don’t have to do everything. And I don’t even want to anymore. I’ve become very selective about what I spend my time doing. I have fewer hobbies than I used to. I only do the things I really love now. And I have fewer social obligations than I used to, because I learned that I need more time alone than I thought I did.

I no longer strive to be busy.

I ask “why” more often than I ever have.

I’ve never been one to ask a lot of questions. I mostly just accepted how things where and never questioned why they had to be that way. I also never questioned why I needed anything.

That is so different from how I am now. I question everything. Every purchase, every gift, every social event. Why? Why do I need this in my life? What value will it add to my life? Is it worth the money I spend on it? Is it worth my financial freedom? How long could I live without it?

Minimalism has caused me to become so much more intentional about every aspect of my life. Which is exactly what it’s supposed to do. The reason this was unexpected is because I had thought I already was being intentional about my life.



I take better care of myself.

When I started having more time to slow down and rest, that’s when I started realizing how deeply exhausted I was. I started paying more attention to the things my body was telling me, and it was telling me to take better care of myself.

Because I’m more intentional, I make better choices for myself. I let myself stay home instead of going out with friends if I’m feeling too tired. More fruits and vegetables find their way into my shopping cart at the store. I actually go to bed when I’m tired, instead of saying “I just need to finish this list of things.”

And the result? I feel so much better. Now, I still have days when I feel tired and exhausted, but I’m more prepared to take care of myself during those times. I’ve learned better how to cope with my overwhelming emotions.

When we have space in our lives, we can get to know ourselves so much better. We get to know so much better what our needs really are. And that is the first, and most important, step in learning how to take care of ourselves.

Learn more about the 5 different types of self-care!

I’m more present in my daily life.

All of the things listed above have come together and resulted in me being more present in my daily life. Because I have learned to slow down and be intentional, I am so much more mindful of what is going on around me. Now, I sit and drink in my surroundings.

I didn’t expect any of these things to happen when I adopted minimalism. I thought I’d be in a near-empty house, spending all my free time running around with friends or doing one of the dozens of hobbies I had. Instead, I’ve found a slow, intentional, and deeply relaxing and fulfilling life. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Have you been dreaming of a slow and intentional life? Are you ready to start pursing minimalism and making a change in your day to day? Sign up for my FREE 30 Days to Minimalism email course! I’ll walk you through, step by step, how to make small changes in your life that are going to have big impact.

The unexpected side effects of pursing a simpler life. Minimalism changed me for the better.
The unexpected side effects of pursing a simpler life. Minimalism changed me for the better.

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10 Comments

  1. Rebecca, loved this post (*and cats and books!), but I thought I should tell you I find your font very difficult to read. Not sure if it’s the size or color or the font itself, but it’s a bit of a strain (and I don’t have a vision problem). I’m so glad you’re reaping even more benefits than you expected from minimalism. Keep up the good work! Pinning!

    1. So glad you enjoyed the post! And thank you for letting me know about the font! A coworker of mine told me that today too, and I was so upset thinking people couldn’t read my posts. I’m working on a solution to fix it.

  2. I love that you researched the benefits of minimalism before pursuing it! I read an article a long time ago saying that it was the path to wealth and I dived right in. You’re right, the benefits – beyond money – have been surprising and very satisfying. One thing I find very interesting is how intimidating other people in my life find minimalism.

    1. I’m so glad you’re seeing the positive outcome of a simpler life! And you’ve made an interesting point. I’ve noticed too that others seem intimidated or overall confused by minimalism. I’ll admit I was skeptical of the lifestyle before I started too. My hope is to help make the whole lifestyle change much less intimidating for those getting started.

  3. I can relate to all of these. I’m an introvert too and I think we are especially suited to minimalism. I feel like I’ve finally created a life I’m happy with – that’s centred around me and my needs. I know a lot of people would think that was selfish but I genuinely believe we have to put ourselves and our own happiness first.

    1. I think that has been the hardest thing, putting myself first. I was afraid to do that for a very long time because I didn’t want to be seen as selfish. But after a while I realized, if I’m miserable, then I’m probably just going to bring everyone else down too. So taking time for myself is good for everyone. I think there’s a balance, but when we take time to put our own happiness first, our happiness radiates off us to other people, and makes them happy too.

  4. This is the first comment I’ve left on a blog post, but I have to say…when you speak about being an introvert, touching things, needing to have noise in the background it’s like you are me. I hope to find the things you say about minimalism to come to fruition in my own life. Thank you!

    1. I am so honored to be the first blog you’ve commented on. Thank you! 🙂 I hope you find the same things in minimalism that I have, too! It’s a beautiful journey, and I can’t say enough times how life changing it is.

  5. Well said!!! I too have been surprised to discover each of these as I pursued minimalism in my life. Thank you for articulating those unexpected benefits. I really hadn’t directly connected them to the decision and application of minimalism but each benefit has just naturally flowed out of that one change of mindset. I suspect that no one would ever dream that the way to attain each of those benefits would be to start by embracing minimalism. On their own, each benefit you mentioned would be something we could try to attain by numerous, but futile approaches. Without the minimalist approach at the heart of it, it would definitely be short lived. Thank you again for sharing your experience!

    1. I am so glad you’ve found the same benefits in minimalism that I have! It’s always interesting to me how the things we chase after most, happiness, contentment, peace, being less stressed, have such simple answers. So often people try to attain those things by getting more and more and more. But typically, I’ve found, the answer is always less.

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