What do you think of when you hear the word minimalism?
If you’re anything like me, you probably picture an almost-empty room, devoid of color or furnishings (except maybe a bed). Bonus points if the room has glass walls. Literally nothing else exists in this room.
The thing is, 99.9% of the time, minimalism is nothing like this picture. This picture is about what isn’t there (which is only half the story) and it’s an extreme version of a lack of things, which no one can sustain (I mean, the person living there needs clothing and food and water, right?)
Minimalism is going to look different for anyone who decides to adopt a minimalistic lifestyle, because it’s prescriptive rather than restrictive. It’s a way of thinking and being, of living in the world.
The definition for minimalism that I attempt to live by as a minimalist is: A focus on the aspects of life that matter most, and intentionally removing anything that doesn’t fall into that category.
What are the aspects of life that matter most? Some of what matters most in life is universal for virtually everyone. I think we can all agree that relationships in our lives matter, whether that be family, friends, or a significant other. I think we can also agree that taking care of ourselves matters—body, mind, and spirit—and this includes having something that we are passionate about that gets us out of bed in the morning. Personally, I would also add that my relationship with the Triune God matters, along with caring for others as Jesus did (and continues to do!). If you want to know more about Christian Minimalism specifically, you can go here.
Being a minimalist is about identifying what matters most in your life, and removing anything that doesn’t matter most and/or is an obstacle to focusing on what matters most. For a lot of people, a big part of the minimalist lifestyle is lessening their attachment to material goods by buying and consuming less and owning less.
Consumption is not bad in itself. We have to consume to live (remember the person living in that fictional room needing clothing and food and water?). A minimalist strives to intentionally consume. Minimalists strive to avoid mindless consumption and only buy and keep things that they need or add value to their life.
Minimalism looks different for everyone. Some minimalists sell everything and live as nomads, only owning those things that they can carry with them. Some minimalists live in and own regular homes, have 1-2 cars, and cultivate a collection of stamps (or magnets, or funny comic strips). And there are minimalists in between both of those categories. So minimalism is a lifestyle that can be tailored to what works for you and those you live with.
Minimalism is so much more than buying and owning less material possessions. It’s about refocusing life and gaining the freedom of more time, more energy, and more financial resources to focus on what matters most.
So, what do you say? Could minimalism be the lifestyle change that you’ve been craving? If so, I encourage you to explore this blog, and check out some other folks who are writing and talking about their minimalism journeys:
The Minimalists, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus: www.theminimalists.com
Courtney Carver: www.bemorewithless.com
Joshua Becker: www.becomingminimalist.com
Tammy Strobel: www.rowdykittens.com