I have a friend who introduced me to minimalism about a month ago. We were talking and she said “well, because I’m a minimalist…” and continued on, but I got stuck on that phrase. I had never really heard of minimalists before! What was a minimalist?
I promptly stopped her and said “Woah, woah, woah. What’s a minimalist?”
After she explained the minimalist lifestyle to me, I took it upon myself to do some research and learn more about this way of living.
And the more I learned, the more I loved it.
What is minimalism?
Minimalism is the act of cutting unnecessary “stuff” out of your life and living with only what you need.
Merriam-Webster defined it as “a style or technique (as in music, literature, or design) that is characterized by extreme spareness and simplicity.”
I didn’t know how much I like this definition because of the word “extreme.” Minimalism is not extreme or radical. Not if you don’t make it that way.
I first learned about minimalism through The Minimalists.
Who are The Minimalists?
I’m glad you asked!
The Minimalists are two men who live a minimalist lifestyle and teach others about minimalism.
Their story is quite unique because they didn’t grow up minimalist, as most of us probably don’t. They both actually were trying to climb the corporate ladder, as they called it.
They were entwined in consumerism and mass consumption. They were rich! They had a ton of money, a bunch of stuff, big houses, the whole works.
Their story about their journey to minimalism is quite interesting. You can watch this TEDxFargo talk to learn more about it.
But, long story short, they changed their lifestyles and became minimalists.
What do minimalists do?
Simply put, minimalists live simple lives. They cut out the excess. Do they need four coats, three pairs of running shoes, four pairs of sneakers, or five different types of cereal in their pantry? A minimalist would decide which one is most important and discard the rest.
Having the newest and sleekest version of something doesn’t bother the minimalist. They take value in what they own. If something no longer has value, they will let it go. A minimalist is not a hoarder. If there’s something they don’t need, use, or love anymore, they toss it! Is that sentimental shirt getting worn down and ragged? Take a picture and let it go.
A minimalist understands the value of things. Minimalists are true materialists. They know the value of a material item for what it is—a material item. They don’t place more value on items than those items deserve. Clothes are just articles to wear. A phone is just a device to communicate.
That being said, minimalists don’t live radical lives. They still use electricity, indoor plumbing, smart phones, wifi, etc., but they don’t need the newest version of a laptop when the one they have works perfectly fine. When that one breaks, they’ll get a new one. They aren’t caught up in commercialism.
It’s your life.
This is perhaps one of the most important things I learned about minimalism. It’s not a set lifestyle that you have to follow, rule by rule, if you’re going to call yourself a minimalist.
Minimalism is tailored to you. You don’t have to get rid of everything except for the essentials. Simply let go of the “stuff” that doesn’t add value to your life.
Let me give you an example. Books are very special to me. They add value to my life! I am collecting books, and one day want to have a very admirable bookshelf or library in my future home.
That is ok! There is nothing wrong with collecting something that adds value to your life. Maybe for you, that value is rocks, or insects, or Legos, or statues, or paintings. Whatever adds value to your life is valuable.
But if it doesn’t add value, you can let it go. Spoons don’t especially add value to my life. I need spoons, but why do I have eight spoons for just me? One or two spoons would do just fine. Or maybe even four, if I decide to have guests over for ice cream.
The point is, let go of the excess.
How to change
So how do you apply this and reap the benefits?
- Do your own research and learn more about minimalism. Follow @theminimalists on Instagram! Sign up for weekly emails from bemorewithless.com. Watch Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things on Netflix.
- Reflect on your life and take inventory. What adds value? What just wastes space?
- If you are up for it, try doing one of the many challenges these well-known minimalists issue. Maybe you could try a packing party, or simplifying your wardrobe.
Minimalism is simplicity. It’s intentionality.