Do you consider yourself a budding Minimalist?
I’ve been seeing a lot of articles lately where people put down minimalism including that recent video with JD Spears. I think people misunderstand the core of minimalism completely. Here’s my take on it.
If you miss JD's take on "Being A Minimalist", check it out below. I fully comprehend the satirical value of the video. I found it funny and true, but wanted to expand more on some of what he said.
It’s not a trend.
Perhaps the term “minimalism as a lifestyle” did become a trend, but the concept of minimalism is nothing new. Think Thoreau and Walden Pond. At the core of minimalism, is the need and want for simplicity. Thoreau wrote about needing only three chairs: one for himself, one for a friend and one for everyone else. He lived in a cabin by the woods, close to nature and with only the necessities. He worked to gain enough resources to build his cabin and buy supplies. He hunted and foraged only the things he needed to survive. There are many people all over America and the world already living minimalist lives: some out of necessity and some by choice. Many of our grandparents grew up in an era when simplicity was the way of life. It’s not a trend, but in a society that values consumption, it feels like a brand new lifestyle.
It’s not about aesthetic.
Yes, there was a movement in the history of the arts where Minimalism was a popular style, but in today’s world, part of the draw of minimalism is how much space it produces physically, mentally and emotionally. The removal of unnecessary objects may by the catalyst for a minimalist life for many people. Many of us have spent decades consuming. We spent time buying things we don’t need. These are stored in our homes, our garages, our extra bedrooms, taking up space, requiring maintenance. The by-product of removing these unnecessary items is open space. The minimal aesthetic is the result, not the goal.
It’s not only for the rich.
I think everyone could use some of the minimalist principles, not just the rich and not just the poor. Minimalism is about spending our time and energy wisely. It's about connecting with others. It's about finding value in ourselves and our day-to-day. This kind of inner reflection is not reserved for one set of people.
It’s not about the number of items.
The point of minimalism is to figure out what you value. It's not about counting how many items you have left, but using what you have fully. We spend a lot of money and time buying things and to have them sit collecting dust is a bit disappointing. What did we sacrifice in order to buy those things? Was it worth missing time spent with loved ones so that it could languish in a dark attic? Minimalism is about appreciating what you've worked so hard to get by actually using them. Don't get hung up on how many items you have, get hung up on how you are using your time for these things.
It’s not about scarcity.
It’s about shifting priorities. It's not about forcing yourself to go without, but asking yourself if you really need it. There's a difference between our wants and needs, but few of us know what that difference is. It's subtle and if we don't pause to think about it, we mistake our wants for needs and we are left where we started: unfulfilled. Minimalism is about filling your life with things and experiences that you enjoy, not what someone else tells you that you'll enjoy. Sometimes, you may not know what these things are until you try them. Start experimenting. Figure out what makes you happy and stop letting people tell you what to buy to be happy.