What is Minimalism?

 

I blame the founding of this site on that word, minimalism. It is something I learned about this past December while reading the

It is something I learned about this past December while reading the The Joy of Less. Even though I had always heard the word floating around I assumed ‘minimalism’ had something to do with lots of white chairs, rich people and home appliances that were smarter than my highschool graphing calculator. So like, crazy smart.

Recently Sarah busted some minimalist myths on her site. And I thought, she is right, there are a lot of misconceptions out there around what it is.

In a nutshell, minimalism is only having things in your home and life that are 1. Beautiful 2. Useful 3. Of very sentimental value. Herein lies the range of the type of minimalist you will come across, those three points are all so subjective.

However, just a step further you will find the heart, the mindset of all minimalists: “I am not my things”.

Because we can all look up from our screen right now and find a dozen things around us that we don’t find attractive, practical or sentimental. But, why get rid of your items that don’t meet one of these three points? Why not have every kitchen gadget that was ever on clearance at Bed Bath and Beyond? Or a TV in every room? Or enough craft supplies for three kindergarten classes? Or a closet full of cute clothes?

Because we identify with all of these things as making us who we are (‘Guilty’, says the girl who still hasn’t cancelled her IPSY subscription!). We rely on all of these things to keep us entertained (as I sit here at my computer flanked with an open iPad and iPhone). Or, sometimes it’s the burden of guilt that we bought into consumerism and paid money on these things, hauled them back to our place, and shoved our old stuff into a drawer to make more room where there isn’t any.

It is tough to get rid of things.

It is also freeing.

Here are some more MINDSETS OF MINIMALISM. . . .

1. Smaller homes can be just as liveable as big ones, if not more: The more you have, the more you have to care for, clean, and maintain. When culture is pursuing bigger houses, lots of clothes, lots of gadgets. A minimalist hears; lots of cleaning, laundry, unused furniture, distractions.  A minimalist will seek smaller square footage, which is doable with less stuff.

2. You don’t need to own everything you enjoy: A minimalist will ‘enjoy without owning’ and forgo at home recreation. Instead, they will seek it in the community at places like libraries, coffee shops, parks, pools, gyms, and theatres.

3. Buy experiences, not things: Minimalists will spend less money on acquiring more stuff, and redirect their money to having experiences. When shopping is no longer a ‘hobby’ then a minimalist lifestyle has the side effect of having less debt.

4. Keep work surfaces clear: Counters, tables, dressers, etc. are best kept clear. Empty spaces are functional spaces. I’m sure we can all think of something we would like to do more if there wasn’t ‘stuff’ in the way (as my neglected sewing machine screams a muffled cry in my cluttered basement). Clutter can be a thief of our time and energy. And the bad part is, our clutter is all our own stuff that we put there in the first place.

5. Always ask why: Minimalism is about examining your relationship with the things in your home. Rather than letting your home get full of ‘stuff’ without much thought behind what you buy, why you buy, how you will use it, how you will store it – minimalism means stopping yourself and asking yourself lots of questions. This makes you become very intentional about what is in your home and seeps into setting intention into how you live your daily life.

People who are minimalists want to unburden themselves from their things. From the restrictions that ‘things’  put on their use of their own living spaces, their identities, their wallets, and their time.

This was what really sat with me when I read about minimalism. I just felt such a heaviness, such a burden, by all that I have. Yes, for all of the reasons listed above, but also because of how mindlessly frivolous it has felt. I mean, how can I have multiples of things I don’t even need when there are people who go without so many things I brush off as necessities (that’s a whole other post though, probably written from my bathtub while I ugly cry like a pregnant lady watching Call the Midwives).

All this being said, I know minimalism isn’t for everyone. I also don’t think it can be extreme. ‘Stuff’ isn’t the enemy. But the whole process of this is for us to go through our home and weed out what ‘stuff’ is just ‘stuff’. To make that line between beauty and usefulness versus clutter and burden. And yeah, I wouldn’t complain if there was less laundry and a basement we could actually make use out of (real talk)…..