Minimalism Should Always Be a Choice

This week on his blog Becoming Minimalist, Joshua Becker brings up a subject that has been on my mind a lot lately – how the coronavirus will impact minimalism. If you have a bit of time, which you probably do right now, I’d encourage you to read it.

We are 8 years into our minimalist journey and it is very much still that – a journey. We have gone through all the usual minimalist stages – decluttering, downsizing, reassessing our finances, re-evaluating how we spend out time, etc. and still every year, we find some new way to simplify our life. Minimalism is something that we strive toward…on purpose.

Long ago, Angie and I came up with our personal definition of minimalism. It looks something like this…

We like to think that minimalism is about incorporating simplicity into your everyday life, about learning to live within your means and finding enjoyment in experiences, rather than in acquiring stuff. But most importantly, it’s about understanding yourself and what makes you happy.

I think most minimalists and aspiring minimalists feel this is a fair definition. So, bearing that in mind, let me get to the point.

In his post, Joshua Becker talks about how the economic fallout from this crisis may force people into minimalism. He and I both agree – that is not the way things should be. And that has got me thinking – if someone is forced into minimalism, is it really minimalism?

I’m inclined to think not.

This worldwide crisis has caused life to slow down and in many ways, that’s not a bad thing. We all could use a little break from the chaos that has become our lives of late – a chance to enjoy our homes, our families, our passions, and not worry about keeping up with the Joneses (because they can’t shop right now either). If out of this mess, a handful of folks start to think about what’s really important in their lives and move toward minimalism or voluntary simplicity, then that’s awesome! We welcome you to the tribe!

But when we’re talking about forced minimalism, we aren’t really talking about the people who can afford to take this time for quiet contemplation, are we? We’re talking about the many, many others who find themselves out of work, struggling to put food on the table because stocking up just wasn’t a financial option, and wondering if and how the rent will get paid this month. So yes, this crisis is forcing people into being more frugal, more careful with their resources, more minimal, if you will, but not in the way you’d want anyone to get there. Involuntary simplicity is stressful and doesn’t often lead to anything that resembles a better life.

I would love, love, love to live in a world where people buy only what they need, work only when they want to, and spend all their free time nurturing themselves, their relationships, and their communities. But in order for that – or any other version of the simple life to work – it has to be voluntary.

I do hope that this crisis is a call to those of us who have the privilege to choose a more minimal life to be a resource and an inspiration to others. Share your story. Share your tips. Share your thoughts, your fears, and your ideas. Now is the time to support and guide one another – especially those who are facing tough times – because that’s what we’re really talking about here. A crisis can’t force someone into minimalism but it can force them into debt or despair, and that’s not a road I want any of us to have to take to arrive at a simpler life.

What brought you to minimalism? What benefit does it bring to your life? Do you have an inspiring story to share with others? Just write a post and send me the link at I’ll share the link to your story in our post next Wednesday (4/8/20).