Here, you will learn everything you need to know about what minimalism is.
I write about how minimalists define minimalism and guide you so you can think about what it means to you.
You will find all the benefits and drawbacks of this lifestyle, as well as some examples of minimalist living, and I explain what minimalism is not.
I started my minimalist journey back in 2017.
Before that, I was not a shopaholic but I was far from being a minimalist.
I used to keep everything and felt an emotional attachment to my stuff.
I rarely let go of anything, which meant that things kept piling up in my home.
When I became a minimalist, I slowly but surely let go of the emotions I attached to some meaningless things.
I removed the clutter all around me and made sure to only keep things I truly value in my life.
I now practice minimalist living in most areas of my life, and I couldn’t be happier with how I live!
Minimalism has truly changed my life for the better and has made me a calmer person living a meaningful, fulfilling life.
If you too want to embrace this life-changing lifestyle or are simply curious about it, read on!
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What is minimalism?
How do minimalists define minimalism?
When searching online, you will find many definitions of minimalism.
The reality is that minimalism can mean a variety of things to different people and we can use it as a tool to achieve different things in life.
Minimalism has its origins in art and design and the concept of living with less has been around for centuries.
Yet, minimalism has over the past years become a widespread movement and lifestyle many people choose to live.
According to the Minimalists, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, “minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.”
They say that starting a minimalist lifestyle will help you find freedom in life.
Courtney Carver, who runs the blog Be More With Less and is the author of the book Soulful Simplicity, defines it similarly.
For her, “minimalism is simply removing the things that remove you from your life. It doesn’t mean removing all of those things overnight, and what you choose to remove will change over time.”
He states that minimalism is about intentionality, removing distractions, and taking back control over our lives.
He defines this lifestyle as “the intentional promotion of the things we most value by removing anything that distracts us from it”.
Joshua Becker says that it’s about not believing that we can find happiness in things.
Those were some of the first definitions of minimalism I’ve ever read.
They described exactly what I needed when I started my minimalist lifestyle.
They opened my eyes to a whole new way of living that I didn’t even know existed.
My definition of minimalism
For me, minimalism is about identifying what is important in my life, simplifying everything down to the essentials, and removing what doesn’t add value.
Embracing minimalism helps me be clear about what I want out of life and stay away from distractions and things that don’t make me happy.
It’s about making life simpler and easier in so many ways!
Like the Minimalists, I see minimalism as a way to have more freedom in life.
Freedom in all aspects of life!
I apply minimalist living to my physical belongings, which means that I try to only keep things I find beautiful, I use, or that make my life easier.
I’ve also highly simplified my financial and digital lives, and regularly take steps to declutter my mind.
Plus, I apply minimalism to my commitments, to-do lists, and relationships.
I am still not as minimal as I’d like to be eventually, but I’m slowly getting there.
This lifestyle has truly changed my life and made me a happier, calmer, and freer person!
What does minimalism mean to you?
What does minimalism mean to you?
It’s up to you to decide what minimalism represents for you and your family.
You get to choose how you will incorporate some of its principles into your life (if you want to).
No matter if you live on the road, in a tiny home, in a house in the suburbs, or even in a mansion!
There is no set of rules that have to be followed, and you can interpret minimalism in a wide range of ways.
It’s a very personal journey.
It may take you months or even years to reach a level of minimalism you are happy with.
But the most important thing is that you know why you started this lifestyle and what it means to you.
It will help you enjoy the process so much more!
Also, minimalism can mean different things to you at different moments of your journey.
You will be constantly adjusting it to your ever-evolving needs and preferences, and that’s okay.
Benefits of minimalism
I wrote an entire blog post about the many benefits of minimalism, so make sure to read it as well if you want to learn more.
But here are some of my favorites:
1. We have more time
Minimalism gives you more time as you have so much less inventory to manage and clean, and everything is so simplified.
2. We are less stressed
Since your home is a lot less cluttered and more peaceful, living in it is more enjoyable and doesn’t stress you out.
You may also have minimized your commitments and tasks, which means that daily life is less overwhelming.
3. We experience less discontent
When you become a minimalist, you usually become happier and more grateful for what you have in your life.
You also often stop comparing yourself to others.
4. Life is more meaningful
Eliminating distractions and unnecessary things helps us realize what is important in our lives.
In the process, we can discover some passions we have or find our mission in life.
5. We have more money
As a minimalist, you are less tempted to keep up with the Joneses.
As a result, you buy less stuff and only purchase what brings value.
This saves you a lot of money!
6. We live more sustainably
Rethinking our purchasing habits means that we become more conscious consumers, which helps the environment.
Also, when decluttering, we can choose to give away and sell things that would have otherwise been unused in our homes.
7. We are more productive
Minimalism helps us focus and eliminate distractions, unnecessary tasks, and commitments.
So when we get to work, we are a lot more productive and get a lot more done.
8. Cleaning is so much easier
When we don’t have a lot of things at home, cleaning gets a lot easier.
We don’t have to move everything around when vacuuming, mopping the floor, or dusting surfaces.
This saves us time and energy!
9. Happiness and well-being increase
Doing and focusing on what matters to us increases our happiness and satisfaction in life.
Also, having a clutter-free home contributes to our well-being: everything looks more peaceful and less chaotic.
10. Traveling is easier
Who likes traveling and visiting places with a huge, heavy suitcase?
Bringing only the essentials with you makes traveling incredibly easy and a lot more enjoyable.
11. Our homes look better
I don’t know about you, but I hate how a messy space looks.
When everything is tidy and minimal, our homes look so much more beautiful and inviting!
12. We have more flexibility and freedom
As we own less, we can easily move houses if we need or want to.
And since minimalism helps save money, we may choose to work less or change jobs if we don’t like our current one.
We may also pay off debt and become financially free.
Drawbacks of minimalism
Like all lifestyles, minimalism has some drawbacks that are worth mentioning.
However, despite them, I think living minimally is still very helpful and life-changing on so many levels!
1. Transitioning to minimalism can be hard
It can be difficult to go against the norm and we might feel alone on our journeys.
2. We may need things we don’t have
Having a highly simplified home means that sometimes, you may need something that you, unfortunately, do not own.
To be honest, it has never happened to me, but it definitely could.
3. People may not understand you
In a world where overconsumption and excess are the norms, many people will not understand why you decide to embrace minimalism.
While it’s perfectly okay not to be understood by others, it can feel challenging.
4. Decluttering is a lot of work
We also all sometimes get stuck in a decluttering rut.
Yet, we need to get the work done to reap all the benefits.
5. We tend to overthink everything
Since becoming a minimalist, I feel a lot calmer.
However, I also tend to overthink everything when it comes to buying or receiving things because I don’t want clutter to creep back in.
6. Decluttering is confronting
When we are going through our belongings, we come across things from our past and we may be reminded of things we would have preferred to forget.
For instance, we are confronted with our past mistakes and poor buying decisions.
It can make us feel disappointed with ourselves.
7. Other people’s clutter may bother us
If you live with other people who are not minimalists or don’t like decluttering, it can be challenging for you.
Their clutter and messes can bother you, and you cannot do anything about it.
8. Gift-giving is hard
Whenever I want to gift something, I always struggle to find great ideas, especially when the person already has everything they need or want.
People may also not know what to give you.
Minimalist living examples
As we saw, minimalism can mean different things to different people.
As a result, people can interpret and live this lifestyle the way they want to.
Some people choose to only curate and be intentional with some aspects of their lives, while others choose to go all in.
Others also use minimalism as a tool to try and explore alternative lifestyles.
Here are some examples of ways we can practice minimalist living:
- Choosing to live a simple life
- Only having the essentials in our homes, nothing less, nothing more
- Living below our means
- Becoming a digital minimalist
- Having a capsule wardrobe or a uniform
- Curating the possessions in our homes and keeping what we love and use regularly
- Moving into a tiny house or a studio apartment
- Going on a debt-free journey
- Embracing slow living
- Giving furniture-free living a try
- Living on the road or traveling full-time
- Trying to live as sustainably as possible and adopting a zero-waste lifestyle
- Becoming an extreme minimalist
- Applying essentialism to all aspects of life
- Becoming vegan or vegetarian
Since minimalism is about being intentional with your life, you can try and minimize anything in your life.
What minimalism is not: common misconceptions about minimalism
As a minimalist, I hear so many people say things that I think are completely false.
So here, I am debunking some of the most common misconceptions about minimalism.
1. Minimalism is not about deprivation
Many people see minimalists as people who voluntarily deprive themselves of the things they need and love.
While there could be some people choosing to live this way, most of us do not.
Yes, we get rid of things and it may seem restrictive to non-minimalists.
But removing the excess and the things that don’t bring value to make space for more of what matters is not restrictive.
It’s the opposite.
We are opening space for more abundance in our lives.
2. Minimalism is not extreme
We may think that minimalism is an extreme way of living, but I think it is far from the truth.
Most minimalists are not extreme, they are only intentional with their lives and what they allow into their homes.
Not too long ago, almost everyone lived as a minimalist.
There was no excess and overconsumption for almost all of human history.
I once read that minimalism only seems extreme because we’ve normalized excess.
I couldn’t agree more!
3. Minimalism is not weird
Some people think that minimalists are weird, but are they really?
Is it weird to only have what you use and love in your home, or to prioritize what is important to you?
I don’t think so.
It’s actually awesome and incredibly liberating!
4. Minimalism is not only about owning very little
When we think about minimalism, we usually visualize tidy homes with a lot of space and no clutter.
We usually associate minimalism with owning little stuff.
Decluttering physical things and owning less play major roles for most of us.
However, minimalism can be applied to so many other aspects of life!
We can declutter our social media accounts and digital files.
Plus, we can eliminate unnecessary expenses, and choose to keep toxic people away.
We can declutter many things that are not real, actual things, and practice simplicity in all areas of life.
And that’s the beauty of minimalism.
5. Minimalism is not only for single people
When looking online, we can find many minimalists who are single guys living out of a backpack.
So people might think that this lifestyle is only for digital nomads or single people.
But it’s not!
We can live minimally and have a large family with several kids or pets!
The two are not incompatible.
We don’t have to be minimalists with our families to be minimalists!
6. Minimalism is not about living in a tiny house
Tiny house living has become more and more popular in the past few years.
I would love to try this lifestyle out one day by renting a tiny house for a few days!
However, minimalists don’t have to live in tiny homes to be real minimalists.
We can also live in a huge house and enjoy having a lot of space as long as we’re intentional with how we live and remove what doesn’t add value.
7. Minimalism is not about fitting an aesthetic
I absolutely love the minimalist aesthetic, like many other people.
But some fall into the trap of thinking that they need to adopt the minimalist aesthetic to be a minimalist.
This is not true.
You don’t have to live in a home with all-white walls and little to no decor.
You can also dress the way you want to, and not necessarily only wear white, black, and gray clothes.
8. Many other myths and misconceptions about minimalism
Those were only some of the main misconceptions I hear all the time about minimalism.
The problem with them is that they prevent many people from embracing minimalism and adapting it to their lives.
We can practice minimalism the way we want to and there is no rule we have to follow.
I wrote an entire article about many other minimalism myths and misconceptions, so go ahead and read it if you want to learn more.
Final thoughts on what minimalism is and what it’s not
I hope this article about what minimalism is and what it’s not was helpful and that it inspired you to go all in or apply at least some of its principles to your life!
If you think that minimalism might be a great fit for you, all I have to say is: why not embrace it now?
We live in a chaotic world filled with distractions and noise.
We are overstimulated all the time and overconsumption is promoted everywhere.
Know that you don’t have to take part in all of this.
You can and deserve to live a peaceful, minimal life in a highly simplified home!
For more inspiration to live a minimalist lifestyle, make sure to read these inspiring quotes about minimalism and simple living.
Here are also some helpful decluttering tips and ideas:
- The best questions to ask yourself when decluttering your home
- 30 things to declutter for a minimalist kitchen
- 11 things to let go of in your living room
- 9 things you should get rid of in your bedroom
What is minimalism for you?
What does it mean and how do you practice it in your everyday life?
Don’t forget to share this article with your friends to inspire them to pursue a minimalist lifestyle as well!