Minimalism: It Is All About Simplicity

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As we are making progress and reaching out to others we notice a lot of people who are decluttering, for several reasons. It will clear up space in your home, you can sell the items for money and it will help you let go the feeling of ownership more.

Either you do it out of frugal reason, or a minimalist approach, it fits perfectly in a lifestyle where consumerism isn’t the biggest driver to make you feel happy.

To most, it works like magic. It can be really tough to get rid of items with lots of sentimental value. With a little help or the right motivation, everybody can do it. No wonder there are so many books telling you how to make space.

Is this the only way to make more room in your life, to free up on new ventures, or become less stressed about what’s around you?

I don’t really know yet.

Intrigued by a more minimal lifestyle, and due to The Minimalist (great podcast!), I started my own little declutter challenge 30 days ago. My goal was to clean up every room and find whatever I didn’t have any use for and get rid of it by selling it online.

We already have a home with not that much stuff. We’re very clean, not bringing in new items that often and have as least items as possible in our home. Basically, we are already living a fairly minimal lifestyle. Still, I knew I would find enough to get rid of. And so I did. The problem is that although I now know that what items are laying around for no use, they are still here…

The thing is, being a minimalist isn’t only about getting rid of stuff. Or spending as little money as possible.

Who defines you to be a minimalist? Is it because you only own 20 items of clothing? Or you have a small home? Or you spend no more than 40 euro’s a week? Is it because you only have to get the bare minimum?

Nobody can say that you aren’t a true minimalist if you don’t apply to the rules. Because frankly, there are no rules.

The origins of Minimalism

In the beginning, minimalism arose as a movement in sculpture and painting back in 1950. Which was standing out from other styles due to their use of simple, but massive form. The artists following this style deliberately use a lack of decoration into their designs.

It’s a lack of non-necessities. A way of disregarding any that is too much. It inclines that only the simplest forms are of true minimalism. But minimalism today isn’t an art form anymore. It became a way of living, a mindset and a new way of viewing materialism. And from the 50’s it took a flight and the term minimalism means so much more today than it used to be 60 years ago.

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I couldn’t help myself and had to show you this graph. It shows how often the word minimalism is used in printed materials or books.

Everybody is different in what they want to achieve in life, and especially with what makes them happy. So, why should minimalism be equal then?

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The base perception of minimalism isn’t actually in reducing, but in adding value. Not necessarily by adding things, but by adding a meaning to the things you do and the items you own.

A little while ago Mr. Pof, from Physician on Fire, had written a wonderful article about the differences between frugalism and minimalism. Which was a bit of an eye-opener to me. It was there, very simply put, that minimalism and frugalism were both very different mindsets, but could coexist together as well. The source of the behavior, however, the driver behind it, was the biggest difference. (If you want to know more, do read, it provides amazing insights)

I’m no frugal person. Saving money isn’t one of my priorities. Growing my money is. I don’t scout shops for discounts, using coupons or look for the cheapest option possible. Therefore I’m not really price sensitive. I don’t find new uses in items that are laying around for months or years just because I own them still. I’m not feeling bad if my lunch is a little more expensive because I was too lazy to make my own.

But…

With every money I spend, I want it to be well spend. On items I need and which adds value to my life directly or to my environment. Like my home. Or the thing we do. My goal is to maximize the value of my money, I want to have as much as possible in return for it.

I tick many of the boxes Mr. PoF uses for his examples on minimalism. I don’t like to waste space when it isn’t needed. I buy high-quality items, favorable to use it for more reasons than 1, and have a mostly brand name wardrobe with a few items. Even my fridge is more empty than full on most times. However, my frugal side makes me that I buy my brand name clothing all at pre-sales for a 70% discount. That my design furniture is bought the at special sales at well and my groceries are based on the items that are for sales that week.

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There is only one thing more valuable, and that is my time.

By challenging myself to declutter and sell as many unused items I could find. I let myself distracted of other things or projects that had more value to me. Like planning my wedding, updating my professional skills or even blogging.

So I let go of the challenge, waiting to get picked up when my time would let me.

This blog post from The Minimalist describes this even more, and the below excerpt from that article describes perfectly what this means to me:

Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from overwhelm. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from depression. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom.

That doesn’t mean there’s anything inherently wrong with owning material possessions. Today’s problem seems to be the meaning we assign to our stuff: we tend to give too much meaning to our things, often forsaking our health, our relationships, our passions, our personal growth, and our desire to contribute beyond ourselves. Want to own a car or a house? Great, have at it! Want to raise a family and have a career? If these things are important to you, then that’s wonderful. Minimalism simply allows you to make these decisions more consciously, more deliberately.

So for everybody, the basis is the same. How it works out for everybody can mean something totally different. The execution of that mindset is different for everybody. It can mean that you will are willing to spend more on luxury items, but are lasting a decade. And still, stash up on that can of soup when it’s on sale. Or that you love that you have some stuff laying around as it all has its own meaning to you, or you rather have only black shirts hanging in your closet.

For many minimalism is the same, yet entirely different. Just don’t hold it against one another when you what you want or need, is something different than the other.

Do you consider yourself a minimalist? Or rather a frugalist? Or neither? How do you cope with possessions, ownership, and materialism? 

11 thoughts on “Minimalism: It Is All About Simplicity

  1. Simple = better! At least, in most circumstances anyways.
    Definitely considering myself a frugalist, with aspirations to become a minimalist at some point. Albeit I doubt I will ever get there. Which is fine, as long as I’m happy 🙂

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    • I think frugal and minimal are not that far of, and most often coexists. What you say is very important, as long as you do what fits your values, being a frugalist, minimalist or both, all will be fine.

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  2. It depends on the definition. I have a larger size house. I do have significant stuff primarily in the form of kids toys. But.. I don’t buy much new stuff because unless I find it’s of value why would I? So am I frugal? Minimal? Or just efficient?

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    • It always depends on the definition, or what it means to a specific person. Think you fit more on the minimal side though, kids just always come with more stuff 😉

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  3. We consider ourselves minimalists, and (as if the name didn’t give it away) frugalists as well. As we have both explored minimalism, we’ve come to the same realization you did – you can’t define anyone’s minimalism but your own. I think it’s fitting (given the name of your blog) that your definition would be very similar to how economists describe rational individuals as always trying to “maximizing utility” of every dollar, or in your case, maximizing value.

    We’re looking forward to hearing more about how your minimalism evolves!

    Just curious about your graph – does it take into account that there’s simply been more and more books published and printed over time, or does it control for that? Thanks!

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  4. I’m not a minimalist yet, but I’m aiming to get there. We lived a year in a RV going through Central America. This helped us getting rid of many things! I keep getting rid of stuff in my house each week since then.
    Cheers,
    Mike

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  5. I love the thought of a declutter challenge. What a great idea! I think I will challenge myself this weekend to throw out anything that I have not used or touched in a year! Great post!!

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    • Great! Too bad I didn’t follow through on it 😉 I’m still working on it at a slower pace now. And finding a lot that deserves to go.

      Good luck with your declutter weekend!

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