Live With Less: 5 TED Talks That Will Inspire You to Simplify Your Life

Feeling swamped by the clutter? Want to live with less but don’t know where to start? 

No shame. We all know that modern life can be a little nuts. Seems like we’ve got way more stuff than we know what to do with. 

Here’s a wild idea. Imagine waking up in a tidy house, where everything has a place and there’s a place for everything. And no, I’m not talking Stepford Wives tidy. (That would just be creepy).

I talking about living in a place that’s perfectly imperfect—a place that’s stripped of the non-essentials, and filled only with the things you truly need. A place that’s uncluttered.

It may sound challenging, but it’s achievable. In fact, thousands of people are already leading simplified lives. They’ve discovered that less can indeed be more.

To inspire you on your journey towards a simplified life, I’ve curated a list of five TED Talks. Each of these talks focuses on minimalism, simplicity, and the benefits of living with less. They offer essential tips to help you move forward on your own journey towards a more simple way of living.

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What Does It Mean to Live With Less?

Gray corner sofa in sparsely furnished livingroom - this is what it means to live ith less
Photo by Sven Brandsma on Unsplash

Living with less goes beyond the physical act of decluttering. It encapsulates a whole philosophy centered around intentionality, mindfulness, and appreciation of the essentials. 

It’s about making room—both physically and mentally—for the things that truly matter. It’s about shifting our value system from equating possessions with happiness and embracing the less-is-more ethos. 

It offers a sense of liberation—from stress, excess, and incessant consumerism. 

What’s more, simplicity isn’t just about gaining personal peace. It can also play a crucial role in protecting our planet by reducing waste and consumption. 

Reasons You Need to Know How to Live With Less

The U.S. self-storage industry is booming. Valued at $37.33 billion in 2018, the figure is projected to rise to a whopping $49.24 billion by 2024. That’s just nuts. Americans are living as large as ever, but space is still at a premium.

Or is it? Perhaps the problem isn’t so much the lack of space, but the fact that we own too much stuff. The solution seems so obvious. We should just get rid of it, but we all know it’s not that simple. Getting rid of clutter is hard.

That said, it’s a task worth tackling nonetheless. Let’s look at some of the benefits of decluttering.

Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Clutter created anxiety. A clean, organized space can significantly reduce stress levels and contribute to mental wellbeing.

Improve Focus and Productivity

Less clutter means fewer distractions. This can improve your focus and make you more productive.

Save Time

Searching for things you need in a cluttered space can be time-consuming. Having less stuff can help you save time.

Save Money

Simplifying your life often leads to simplifying your needs, which in turn can help you save money. Also, clutter costs money.

Help The Environment

Consuming less means producing less waste and reducing your carbon footprint, which helps in protecting the environment.

Boost Your Creativity

In a simplified living space, without the distractions of clutter, your mind is free to create and innovate.

Embracing minimalism and learning how to live with less can provide you with a concrete, actionable path toward all these benefits. 

Decluttering your life may be a daunting task, but remember, you don’t have to do it all at once. Start small, perhaps with a single room or even a single drawer, and you’ll soon begin to feel the benefits. 

It’s about simplifying your needs and becoming more intentional with your consumption, which will not only simplify your life but also contribute to a more sustainable lifestyle

This approach isn’t just a fad—it’s an evolved way of living, a method that keeps your well-being, finances, and our planet’s future at its core.

5 Inspirational TED Talks to Simplify Your Life

Finally, here are those TED talks on minimalism, decluttering and simplifying your life that I promised you a gazillion words ago.

I know, verbose much?

The articles I referenced at the beginning of the post should be reason enough to get you busy decluttering, but if you’re still on the fence about letting go of all your stuff, these TED talks on minimalist living will definitely inspire you to live with less.

Should the concept still not stick (seriously?), you can always search for some additional motivation. At the end of them, you’ll either be a ‘live with less’ evangelist or a lost cause.

1. Getting Rid of 1000 Things by Liz Wright

Liz says her ‘aha’ moment came after reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. The book caused her to look more closely at her own life, specifically the small day-to-day decisions, such as the things you bring into your house.

She looked around her home and saw that she’d clearly inherited her parents’ post-war ‘save everything’ mentality. But being an 80s child, Liz also had a consumerist mindset. Not a good combination. 

She set herself a goal to get rid of 1000 things. The end result was a lighter, brighter, and more airy home, and some wonderful learnings along the way.

One big epiphany for Liz was the realization that there’s no point holding onto something for its perceived worth. Instead, she recommends looking at stuff in terms of its function and use.

If you struggle to let go of something simply because you paid good money for it, Liz’s inspiring and insightful TED talk on the many benefits of decluttering and living with less is a must-watch.

2. The Masterpiece of a Simple Life by Maura Malloy

As a fellow writer and neat freak, I completely get Maura’s inability to focus, work, or relax when she’s surrounded by clutter. Like her, I too need clear countertops, an empty sink, clothes put away, and most importantly, an uncluttered desk, before I’m able to turn my attention to work.

I moved my ‘office’ to a co-working space for a while and I was way more productive.

Maura says she wasn’t always like that. As a little girl, she collected everything from dolls and pencils to teddy bears. It took a trip to India at the age of 19 to open her eyes to the joy of less. (Although that didn’t deter her from shipping home a box full of touristy stuff to prove she’d been on an adventure.)

It was only when she moved to New York that she finally began decluttering in earnest. Mara uncovered her masterpiece life by eliminating the superfluous. What would your masterpiece life look like? Why not follow Mara’s example and chip away at all that’s unnecessary until you’re living your dream life?

3. From Clutter to Clarity by Kerry Thomas

In this insightful TED talk on living with less, Kerry reminds us that clutter isn’t just the physical stuff in our houses (though that’s a really great place to get the declutter ball rolling). It can also be digital, mental, emotional or spiritual, and each type of clutter can be equally overwhelming.

Drawing on the wise words of Barbara Hemphill, who said that clutter is postponed decisions, Kerry encourages us to more closely examine the things we’re holding onto and make a decision about them.

4. The Joy of Less by Kim Coupounas

The seduction of more led Kim down a dark path that left her emotionally, spiritually, and physically so worn out and out of balance that she spent the next eight years having five miscarriages, three failed in vitro fertilization rounds, and spending a fortune on Western and Eastern medical treatments.

It was only when she slowed down and cleared out the clutter from her life that her world righted itself and she was able to fall pregnant. Kim reminds us that less doesn’t mean lack, it means less stress, less anxiety, less anger, less worry. It also means more happiness, joy, abundance, and connection. Kim’s TED talk does a great job of highlighting the joy of less.

5. How Many Towels Do You Need by Rose Lounsbury

When Rose Lounsbury realized her 1500 square foot (140 square meters) home could no longer accommodate all the stuff her family had amassed, she knew something had to give. Starting with her linen closet, Liz began downsizing with one clear goal in mind: to own less stuff.

So pleased was she with the results that she quit her teaching job and started inspiring others to live better lives with less stuff. Rose’s book Less: Minimalism, For Real takes a practical, hands-on approach to decluttering your home and simplifying your life. If you enjoyed her TED talk on decluttering, you’re sure to enjoy the book.

There you have it. Five inspirational TED talks to help you ditch the clutter along with a bunch of additional information to get you to live with less stuff. Hopefully something resonated enough to motivate you into action.

11 Key Considerations for Living With Less

By now you’ve either clicked away to your favorite shopping site or you’re chomping at the bit to start your decluttering journey. Before you rush off, here are some key considerations you should think about when deciding to live with less:

1. Start Slowly

Don’t rush into the process and try to declutter your entire home in a day. It’s a gradual journey, so take it one step at a time. Begin with a small area like a drawer, move on to a cupboard, and then a room.

2. Stay Consistent

Consistency is key when it comes to decluttering. Turn it into a daily habit, even if it’s just 5 minutes a day.

3. Be Ruthless

Don’t hold onto items for sentimental reasons. Keep what you love and need, but let go of the rest. It may be hard at first, but the feeling of relief and freedom you’ll experience when you see your clear, spacious countertops will be worth it.

4. Consider the Function

As Liz Wiseman recommends, view your possessions in terms of their function and use. If something isn’t serving a purpose in your life, it may be time to part with it.

5. Visualize Your Goal

What does your dream, clutter-free space look like? Visualizing your goal can be a powerful motivator during the decluttering process.

6. Practice Gratitude

Before discarding anything, thank it for the purpose it served in your life. This simple act can help with the emotional aspect of letting go. (Hat tip to Marie Kondo for this nugget.)

7. Learn to Say No

Decluttering isn’t just about removing existing stuff, it’s also about preventing new clutter from entering your life. Learn to say no to impulse purchases, unnecessary gifts, and items that don’t align with your clutter-free lifestyle.

8. Enjoy the Process

Decluttering can be therapeutic and rewarding. Enjoy every step of it. Celebrate each little victory—every space you clear, every item you let go of, every moment you choose your peace of mind over material possessions.

9. Stay Focused

During the process, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and lose track of the ultimate goal. Stay focused and remind yourself why you began the journey in the first place.

10. Involve Others

Share your journey with others. Involve your family and friends in the decluttering process. Not only will they provide support and motivation, but they might also be inspired to start their own decluttering project. 

11. Be Patient

Remember, this is a journey, not a race. It’s okay if progress seems slow or if you have setbacks along the way. Keep moving forward, no matter how small the steps.

Keep this list at hand to help you stay motivated whenever you feel discouraged or overwhelmed (it’ll happen, you’re human after all). Have it open on your laptop or print it out on recycled elephant dung paper and stick it up on your fridge.

Taking It to the Next Level: Adopting a ‘Live With Less’ Mindset

Living with less goes beyond the confines of physical clutter. It’s a holistic approach that encompasses a ‘less is more’ attitude to all areas of life. 

This mindset can lead to incredible benefits such as less stress, more money, more time, and increased happiness. 

Furthermore, it encourages us to value experiences over material possessions, helping us see that the most important things in life aren’t things at all.

This journey of self-discovery might be challenging, but the outcome is undoubtedly rewarding. Remember, the goal is not perfection but progress. 

By shedding the unnecessary, you are making room for growth, freedom, and a life of abundance without being weighed down by possessions. 

Alternatives to Living With Less

While minimalism or living with less is an effective lifestyle choice for many, it’s not the only option. Hoarding is far from advisable, but for many (maybe you?) living with less might feel a little too monkish.

It’s not, but I also get that the ‘everything all at once’ approach can be daunting. Especially if you’re a card-carrying shopaholic. Again, no shame. Been there, done that, bought a pile of t-shirts.

And then gave them all away.

If you can’t get your head around downsizing every area of your life, why not start by creating a minimalist wardrobe? Of course, if you’re all in you could always move into a tiny house. I mean, why not?

Wrapping Up and Our Experience Living With Less

Two mugs on a windowsill

We ditched the majority of our belongings back in 2008 and we haven’t looked back since. This lifestyle is incredibly rewarding on so many levels. 

There’s the obvious stuff like no longer being in debt, but there are also the less tangible benefits. We feel less stressed, more focused, and overall, much happier. We have more time to spend on things that matter: experiences, relationships, and personal growth.

Also, we’ve found that living with less has made us more conscious as consumers. We think twice before buying something, asking ourselves if we really need it or if we just want it. This not only saves money but also prevents us from acquiring unnecessary clutter. 

It’s a strange reality, but having fewer things around actually gives us more. More space, more freedom, more peace, and more contentment. Give it a try and see for yourself. Take it one day and one thing at a time, and before you know it you’ll have conquered your clutter problem for good!

Also, be sure to share your journey with others. You never know, you might just inspire someone else to start their own journey towards living a minimalist lifestyle.