Minimalist Monday: Redefining Success

We all want to feel successful but is society's current measure of success healthy, meaningful and good for the soul?

Too often in our materialistic and status driven society people are seen as successful because of

  • the job that they do
  • how much they earn
  • how many hours they work
  • where they live
  • the size of their house
  • how they dress
  • the car that they drive
  • how busy they are
  • their social life
  • their physical appearance
  • the holidays that they take
  • the technology that they own
  • their social networking profile
  • their relationship status
  • who they know
  • their background
  • their education
  • how stressed they are!!!

Striving to achieve these things often leads to disillusionment, debt, stress and possibly ill health. Are these measures of success fragile and shallow?

Minimalism and simple living can inspire you to stop chasing material possessions and status and to focus instead on defining yourself in a different way. 

If you live a simpler life you can be a successful and happier person because you
  • don't follow the crowd
  • are not striving for the next big thing
  • are relaxed
  • are content with what you've got
  • have more time to devote to your relationships
  • have less distractions
  • are creative
  • are resourceful
  • enjoy your own company
  • contribute to your community
  • care about others less fortunate than yourself
  • share what you have however little
  • don't compare yourself to others
  • don't take yourself too seriously
  • have time to think clearly
  • have time to appreciate everyday pleasures
  • don't judge
  • give more than you take
  • accept yourself for what you are
  • follow your passions 
  • value relationships over possessions
I'm not suggesting that you stop striving to improve yourself or opt out of modern day life completely. And you can be a high earner and still have meaningful relationships and enjoy simple pleasures... but it isn't as easy. Finding the balance between outward measures of success and less visible measures of success is a quandary for many of us.

Is a simpler life a more successful life? 

Food for thought.



  1. Excellent post and a good comparison of why pursuing a simpler way of life is so much better.

    I think, at least of us, that as we got older our priorities changed. My husband left a high paying but very stressful job about 10 years ago and our quality of life has increased ever since. We now want less stuff and more quality a life.

    Sorry to ramble on but this is a subject close to my heart.

    tea and simplicity

  2. I think a successful life is one where we are honest with ourselves and how we want to live/be happy etc. I love your lists and I think that for most people, simplifying, even temporarily if they want to, allows some of those inner thoughts to be heard for the first time. So exciting! (I'm not sure if you've received my emails??) xx

    1. Hi Lucent - I agree and being honest with ourselves is not always easy. Btw no emails yet!


      justalittleless at yahoo dot co dot uk


  3. I agree with all that but none of it has anything to do with a minimalism. Best to leave people alone and let them do what comes naturally to them and not preach at them and tell them they are wrong wrong wrong.

    1. Thank you for your comment and for reading. Just a little less is intended as a gentle approach to minimalism. I aim to persuade and suggest alternative ideas rather than preaching.

  4. Hi, What you have posted above perfectly fits a very sad family situation We know of just now. It is wise words indeed. I have given you a Liebster award over at the blog, well deserved for you, Jo xx

  5. Thoughtful post. I think a lot of it is your mindset. In the U.S. there we are so bombarded by consumerism - it's like fighting a constant battle. People feel like they're entitled to have it all and if they can't it's because they aren't trying/working hard enough. I feel like the less I watch commercial TV or read magazines the better able I am to keep the "wanties" at bay.


  6. Claire, you have asked a searching question about the generally held measures of success in our Western society today and have offered some thoughtful alternative criteria (definitely not preaching!) Your post expresses exactly what I believe are the benefits of living a simpler life.

  7. Love the lists! I feel fortunate that my friends really live the second list and don't care a hoot about status, but do care about making a difference in the world :)

  8. This is a great and thoughtful post Claire. I love your lists and the benefits you've shown from living a simpler life. xx

  9. Love it! Minimalism is not just about stuff, and I think a lot of us are realizing that this month, in the New Year. It's about living intentionally, questioning all the myths that persist in our culture. Yes, that means we own fewer possessions (only keeping that which we really need or want, not what everyone says we should keep), but it also means that we are intentional with our time, relationships, money, careers--everything!

  10. Isn't it interesting that all the prickly posts are left by anonymous posters?! I'm new to the your blog but love your gentle encouragement and suggestions, thank you

  11. Great post! :) It's hard to abandon society's definition of success, because it's so ingrained in us. But it is an effort we all can make, and that will certainly lead us to more meaningful lives.

  12. I really relate to this post, after 30 years spent trying to achieve "success" as defined in your first list, an un-wanted divorce left me homeless and destitute, which forced me to realise what an impossible situation I'd got myself into, running faster and faster, working longer and longer hours, just to maintain a life-style my (now ex) wife thought she deserved. I did achieve some monetary success, but also developed high stress levels, alcohol dependance and a 60-80 cigarettes a day habit.

    I now have a new wife and our income is about a sixth of what it was, but I've discovered how little I miss the materialistic "benefits" I used to strive for, and your second list now makes so much more sense. I no longer have the stress, alcohol or nicotine habits.

    1. Thank you so much for offering this comment. I too suffered with stress when I was on the hamster wheel of materialistic success. I'm so pleased that you are now enjoying the benefits of a simpler lifestyle.


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