How To Be Happy When You Don't Have Everything You Want

We live in a world that prioritizes driving a fancy car, going out to expensive dinners and filling your house with stuff. But one thing I've realized is that the more stuff you have, the more trapped you become by your possessions, and the less free you are to roam this great Earth. And that is damaging.

My first brush with minimalism came after being laid off from my non-profit job and enrolling in yoga teacher training. Out of work, back to school and with no tangible job prospects yet on the horizon, I had to rework my mentality about what was important to me. This was back in 2010, and luckily for me, quite a few of my friends were experiencing the effects of the bad economy. I formed a sort of tribe of girls learning to be happy with less. Minimalistas, we called ourselves.

The biggest lesson I learned during those years is this: simplicity can be plentiful. Conversations tend to be more authentic, connections more profound, and by lightening the load on your soul, you free up space to explore uncharted territories.

Whether you're living a simpler life by choice or by force isn't all that important. You're probably asking yourself: Now what?

Here are some creative ways to find happiness with less:

1. Have a potluck with friends.

Eating out at fancy restaurants is the first thing to go when you cut back on unnecessary expenditures. Organize a weekly potluck where each person brings something (hopefully healthy!) to share, and all of a sudden you have a glorious organic feast better than any $100 dinner.

2. Clean out your closets.

A surefire way to lighten the load. I challenge you to find me someone who doesn’t feel 10 times better after cleaning out her closets. If it’s been more than five years since you’ve worn it — scratch that, more than two years — it’s gotta go!

3. Trade your skills.

Get creative with your hustle. Almost every yoga and Pilates studio offers a trade of services. Sweep the floor between classes and mind the front desk in exchange for free classes and a newfound community of like-minded friends — it’s a win-win!

4. Adopt the mantra “Less is More.”

Cliché, I know, but so very true. Whenever I feel a twinge of envy for someone else’s hot new designer heels or handbag, I come back to this mantra. Yoga teaches us that everything we need is already within us. Tap into the abundant richness of your soul and cravings for external objects will start to melt away. If you have a positive mentality about becoming minimalist, you will be able to see the beauty in the process.

5. Set a (non-possession-related) goal.

I almost spit out my tea when I overheard the couple next to me talk about their goal of buying a Mercedes Benz. Why? So you can drive your fancy new Benz to a job you hate, to impress people you don’t even like?! I sincerely hope that’s not the case, but unfortunately, this is status quo in our possession-driven society.

So now I challenge you to set a few goals that have nothing to do with things. Examples: I will meditate five minutes a day, run a half-marathon, call my parents once a week, volunteer once a month, invite my neighbors over for dinner, watch every sunrise or sunset for a week, etc.

Have you adopted a minimalist lifestyle? Do you agree that "less is more?"

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