Debunking Minimalism’s Most Common Misconceptions

Originally posted on March 26, 2015. Updated June 20, 2016.

garden forkWhen I introduce myself as a minimalist, I get mixed reactions. A few folks are overjoyed to have found a kindred spirit but most just give me that “well, bless your heart” look so commonplace here in the South. Honestly, I think the word minimalism scares a lot of people. At one extreme, it tends to conjure up images of an austere room where a single lamp sits atop a milk crate or a nearly bare closet where a pair of jeans hangs next to a week’s worth of monochrome tees and at the other, images of tiny hyper-organized spaces of extreme efficiency where a dinner fork doubles as a garden tine. I have to laugh at both. Modern day minimalism is anything but scary. In fact, if more people embraced its concepts, I believe we’d have a much happier, more creative and more productive society.

There’s an old saying: All poodles are dogs but not all dogs are poodles. The same applies to minimalism. All minimalists strive for simplicity but not all minimalists go about it the same way. Minimalism is not one size fits all so it is important to find out what it means in relation to your own goals and lifestyle.

Minimalism is not a political movement. In fact, it is very bipartisan. Democrats, Republicans, and Independents alike can simplify their lives.

Some religions practice minimalism but minimalism is not a religion.

There are no dietary guidelines or restrictions that go with minimalism. Vegans, vegetarians, and carnivores can all feast on the freedom that comes from owning less.

Poverty is the “condition of having little or no money, goods, or means of support”. Minimalism is not poverty. In fact, minimalists can even be wealthy…like Steve Jobs.

Minimalists do spend money…just with more forethought and intention than the average consumer.

Minimalists do own things; how much and what is up to the individual. Minimalists; however, are never owned by things.

Minimalism is not a competition to see how few items one can live with. Neither is it a goal or a destination that one arrives at.

So what is minimalism then?

Minimalism is living in an uncluttered space with an uncluttered mind. It is removing the unnecessary obligations that rob you of your time and your energy and learning to live with only what you need. Minimalism is anything that you do to accomplish a simpler way of life.

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