Changes are afoot.
You’re beginning your journey into minimalism and the outcome is yet unknown.
Nonetheless, you’re willing to test the theory, give it a go, see what happens.
That’s when cognitive flexibility is both required AND working at its best.
A report by Barbara Jacquelyn Sahakian published in Mensa magazine (March 2022) discusses the concept of cognitive flexibility and of its importance in our lives. It includes traits such as curiosity, imagination, creativity and empathy and allows us to investigate different concepts and adapt to new situations.
Any kind of change of direction in your life will require cognitive flexibility. So, if you’re starting out on the path to minimalism, you’ll have already become curious about the topic and you may have begun to imagine how your life could be different when living with less.
You’ll also need to be flexible in your approach to your belongings and accept that your activities, routines and physical surroundings may need to change in order to live a more minimal lifestyle.
Imagining future scenarios where you have minimised your home allows you to discover how you may need to embrace new ways of doing things or may need to adjust your approach at the decluttering stage in order to achieve your goals.
Exploring a multitude of different scenarios shows cognitive flexibility and makes you more likely to succeed on your minimalist journey.
On the flip side, cognitive rigidity may prevent you from achieving your goal of living a more minimalist life.
The opposite of cognitive flexibility is cognitive rigidity, which is found in a number of mental health disorders including obsessive-compulsive disorder, major depressive disorder and autism spectrum disorder.Barbara J Sahakian, 2022
The good news is that you can learn to be more cognitively flexible. In fact, you may be able to overcome some elements of cognitive rigidity through your search for a more simple life.
For example, compulsive hoarding is often considered to be a type of OCD. So, if you are able to declutter some of your belongings, you’re demonstrating the ability to be cognitively more flexible.
Likewise, the changes to routine that are required to live more minimalistically may feel difficult for autism spectrum people but being curious about, imagining, and making that adjustment is a sign of improved cognitive flexibility.
All cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) methods help you to learn to be more cognitively flexible by training you to change your patterns of thoughts and behaviour. So each small step you take to toward a minimalist lifestyle will help to enhance your cognitive flexibility and get you closer to achieving your aim.
And when you stay cognitively flexible, you’ll be able to think outside the box to cope with any challenges that arise throughout your minimalism journey.
Go for it!
Sahakian, B. J. (2022) ‘Outside of the box’, Mensa, March 2022, pp.08-10.
Sahakian, B. J., Langley, C., and Leong, V. (2021) ‘IQ tests can’t measure it but cognitive flexibility is key to learning and creativity, [online]. [26 February 2022] The Conversation. Published June 23 2021 Available from: https://theconversation.com/iq-tests-cant-measure-it-but-cognitive-flexibility-is-key-to-learning-and-creativity-163284
Bratiotis, C., Otte, S., Steketee, G., Muroff, J., Frost, R. O. (2009) ‘Hoarding Fact Sheet’, [online] [26 February 2022]. International OCD Foundation (IOCDF), Boston. Available from: https://iocdf.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Hoarding-Fact-Sheet.pdf