10 April 2020

What is Minimalism? 5 Minimalism Myths

I have found many definitions of minimalism, most of them I think are over exaggerated, and honestly, unnecessary. A simple web search will tell you that minimalism is the practice of valuing extreme spareness and simplicity, or that it is a practice that is restrictive, boring and cheap. There’s many misconceptions about minimal living, too. Do I have to get rid of everything I own? Do I have to give up my hobbies? Is minimalism defined by a set of rules?

In my quest to research minimalism, I very quickly learned that minimalism means something different to everyone. To me, minimalism is consciously deciding to live with less. To me this means consuming less, and being resourceful with how things are reused or repurposed. To ultimately create more space, time, money and energy for you and your household. For me, minimalism is not everything you’ve heard it is. 

Myth: Minimalism means you get rid of most things you own.

It’s true that most minimalists have the same realisation at some point in their lives. “I have too much stuff!” And while it is a key part of the journey to declutter your physical (and mental) space, it certainly doesn’t mean that you need to get rid of things that you truly enjoy. When decluttering, I’m always thinking about what I will get in return for it. When the item is no longer in my house, it isn’t taking up space, doesn’t occupy my time in cleaning or maintaining, doesn’t cost money in updating or repairing. It brings me joy to see spaces that are simple and easy to maintain. I also have a sense of clarity knowing exactly what I own and where things are.

Myth: Minimalism is about depriving yourself of things you like.

Well this one is just silly. If you’re a book reader, keep your books. There’s no reason to get rid of something that you like and use often. There have been things that I have recently donated, after telling myself for years that I would ‘find the time for it’. I’m a firm believer that I can do anything, but not everything. When I started to be honest with myself, I knew, realistically, that I didn’t have the time for all of the hobbies I was trying to pursue, and for me, it was better to commit my time and energy to excelling in a few, than burning out trying to do them all. Minimalism is never about getting rid of things that you find to be beautiful and useful. Only rid your home of things that clutter your space, are no longer needed or take more energy, time and money than you think they’re worth.

Myth: Minimalism is restrictive and has set rules. 

As I said in the previous myth, you can be a minimalist and embrace minimal living without depriving yourself of the things you enjoy. For me, and again this is my personal philosophy, You can embrace minimalism in as many aspects of your life as you’d like. You may find that you like a minimal approach to your kitchen but fill your living room with your grandparent’s knick-knacks, and that’s okay, too. Some people live within certain numbers such as ’40 items in their wardrobe’ but that’s just one way to be a minimalist, and it’s a way that works for them. I think it’s a great idea to spend a short period of time limiting yourself to a certain number of clothing items or kitchen utensils, to become more creative in the way you live, and prove to yourself just how easy it can be to live with less. No matter how you are doing minimalism, while you are intentionally, decidedly living with less, you are a minimalist. 

Myth: Being a minimalist and a cheapskate are the same thing.

I don’t know where this misconception came from. Maybe the very idea of living with less seems to bring to mind a person who lives alone, eating the same meal every night with the same one set of utensils. Well I’m here to tell you that would be the 2% of minimalists. The ones they make documentaries about. As for the rest of us, I’m sure that in some aspects, I am saving money. But, I’m also sure that in other ways I’d spend more money. I’m not someone who goes ‘clothes shopping’. I don’t see the value in purchasing a heap of cheaply made items for them to be worn once and forgotten about. I’d so much rather invest in quality clothing that has been made well, and will outlive the cheaper garments. I don’t want clothes that are made of fabrics that are hard to maintain. I’d prefer to have some beautiful basics that are easy to care for. Ultimately this will save me time in laundry, and getting ready, everyday. Living with less also saves me space as my closet isn’t overflowing, and I’m not overwhelmed by items I didn’t even remember that I had. I know exactly what I have and exactly how to style garments together. 

Myth: Minimalism is a trend.

Nearly every definition searchable on the web referred to minimalism as a ‘trend’. And, while that may be true for some. It certainly isn’t for most. I know that rooms are easier to clean when there’s little or no clutter. I also know that there’s less to maintain, organise, sort and store, and that frees up time and energy for things that are more important to me. It’s not a trend of simply ‘owning less’ but a lifestyle that helps you to live intentionality. Living minimally is a way of life that promotes simplicity, and ultimately saves you time, money, space and energy.

I’d love to know what minimalism means to you. Leave a comment below to tell me what minimalism means to you, or how you are implementing minimalism into your lifestyle.

Yours in all things sustainable,

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