By Brittany Bruce
Minimalism is having an ‘in vogue moment’ right now. Minimalist and simple living blogs, podcasts and YouTube channels are popping up all over the internet. At its core, minimalism Is about making priorities for how you want to live your life. However, there is a common misconception about what minimalism ‘looks’ like in practice.
A common theme in the public portrayal of minimalism and minimalists revolves around a) getting rid of all of your worldly possessions and b) living in a space that is stark and devoid of visual interest.
However, minimalism has absolutely nothing to do with what you do or do not own, or what the inside of your house looks like. Sure, lots of minimalists go through the ‘minimising’ phase where they donate, sell or recycle some of their possessions; however, these acts alone do not define them as minimalists. In fact, you could be a minimalist and never declutter anything!
If you are a minimalist, you have probably heard some version of the following. “You can’t be a minimalist if,”
you have kids
you like shopping
you live in a big house
you have a car
you are not wealthy
you are a collector
etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
Minimalism is a more conscious state of mind where you have chosen to make your life about more than the endless cycle of pay cheque —> unnecessary consumption—> debt.
Minimalism does not swear off or ban consumption; humans need to consume to survive— that’s a fact. What we do not need to do is whittle away our free time purchasing or upkeeping possessions we bought to ‘keep up with Jones’. Our lives are more valuable than that.
So what does a minimalist lifestyle look like? Simple, whatever you want. Maybe your minimalism is a big house full of kids – that is awesome! If the family is a priority for you, then making it the centrepiece of how you spend your time is the definition of minimalism.
If minimalism to you means clearing out your closet but holding onto your treasured record collection go for it! If music adds joy and value to your life, then keeping it is just what the minimalist ordered.
Do you see the trend here? Minimalism is about defining what your priorities are in life and then building a life around those priorities. That is why there can never be an effective guide on ‘how to be a minimalist’. Minimalism is different depending on what your goals are.
Someone who wants to live a minimal life to reduce debt will have a very different day-to-day life than someone who is using minimalism as a tool to spend more time with friends and family; this is the key to minimalism. It is a tool; it is not necessarily the end point in and of itself. You are not choosing to live a more intentional and simple life just for the heck of it; you are choosing to do it for a particular purpose.
So if you think you can’t be a minimalist for “X”, “Y”, “Z” reason or believe that you’re doing minimalism ‘wrong’— you are not. As long as you are living with intention, you are doing a perfect form of minimalism for your life.
Brittany Bruce is a minimalist and aspiring future tiny house dweller who is the founder of Tiny Ambitions, a blog dedicated to exploring the tiny life in all its wonderful facets.