Minimalism…isn’t so simple!

“The art of simplicity is a puzzle of complexity.” – Douglas Horton

You would think that there would be little to say on the subject of minimalism, but ironically this isn’t the case.

Minimalism isn’t simply about throwing out everything you own, or about boycotting purchasing new things altogether. Getting to the stage where you only have what you need is a difficult battle, but it doesn’t end there. You have to be constantly aware of accumulating more stuff and the consequences and futility of perpetually pursuing material posessions.

On top of that, depending on people’s preferences and situations, there isn’t a cookie cutter criteria for a minimalist. I’ve always believed that minimalism can’t be measured, you can’t take a number like ‘100 things’ and apply it to everybody. Compromises have to be made for preferences, jobs, children and other lifestyles.

So, minimalism isn’t simple, but who cares? Arduous journeys lead to great goals, that’s what makes them so great. I don’t want to put anyone off, but I know it takes a certain level of commitment to begin and maintain a minimalist lifestyle. The secret is to make baby steps, and work out what works for you.

It’s gets easier when the complexity of minimalism is broken down into smaller steps. A minimalist should consider weighing the pros and cons of each item’s:

1. Versatility. If something can be used for two functions instead of one, you have automatically halved the number of things you would have needed and perhaps saved some money in the process. Versatile clothing is the key to a minimalist wardrobe.

2. Durability. The longer it lasts, the less you spend fixing it or replacing it. Durability is what dispels the myth that all minimalists are frugalists. Sometimes, it’s worth paying that extra amount for better quality so that you don’t have to constantly replace it. But be careful, durability should not be mixed up with perceived quality achieved through marketing and brand names.

3. Availability. It’s better to avoid relying on things that are too rare or extravagant that would be expensive and/or difficult to replace, since you could become stuck if it gets lost, broken or stolen. The point of minimalism is that you don’t have to constantly worry about your material things.

4. Portability. For people that travel a lot, the portability of an item is extremely valuable. Ideally, most items should be easy to pack, light and have multiple functions so that you can take a smaller and more manageable suitcase.

Walking the life of minimalism isn’t done without making sacrifices and difficult choices but every right decision, no matter how small, contributes somehow as one small step forwards, instead of backwards, towards happiness. And you never know, the impact you make may inspire others and can create a revolution.

  • Adam

    Well said. I’ve been living minimally for quite some time now, and compromises are definitely necessary; everyone’s has different needs and preferences, everything is relative. But never stop, always keep questioning yourself and thinking hard before you go out and buy something on a whim. As Stuart Wilde says: Consume less, stay in control, be at one with your inner self and nature.
    Purifying your life, constantly skimming, cleaning, throwing things out, simplifying.

  • I’m always so inspired when I read your posts but I then look around my room and can’t think of where to go from here. Would you be up for sharing how you got onto the path? Especially as a student – I find it difficult to deal with those things I find I use two of/university specific items.

    You’ve mentioned how sparse your University room is before and I’m itching to know how you manage on so little.

    Thanks for posting and being a reminder to people like me who’re still quite a way down the path.

  • minimalstudent

    Thanks for the comment Adam. You’re totally right, you should never stop, even on days you don’t feel like it, you should just try to keep going!

    Hey Rose, firstly I just want to say, thank you for all of your comments and for encouraging me, you really help me keep going with writing even when I have so much on my plate!

    Actually since you’ve mentioned it, I’m currently working on a series about minimalism in my life. It’s going to be a much more personal dive into what I do specifically, although I’m no expert yet. Posts and pictures to come over the next few weeks 🙂

  • You’re welcome. I really do love reading these posts and being reminded that I can get to a more minimal state.
    That sounds great 😀 I’m glad we’re on the same wavelength!

  • Neil Ross

    I found myself in amazement when I found this website. I’ve long thought of minimalism as a philosophical discipline. In the past few days I’ve started writing a manifesto concerning the subject. Just out of fun, I typed minimalist philosophy into google. Upon finding your own ideas and teachings, the amazement began. It seems that two people with the same ideas can exist at the same time. In fact, your views reflect fully my own. Incredible, isn’t it? I would only have to add a few more articles…Religion, politics, music, art and literature aren’t covered in your articles. But I do understand why. Perhaps you consider it an exercise in futility to discuss these things, and feel it is more important to think about matters of practicality, ways of thinking, saving money, behavioral sciences. I would beg to differ. Minimalism is a way of thinking that has a potential to change the world. It resembles in some ways, socialism and the futurist utopian society of the Star Trek fictional universe. The point is, your thesis are focused on personality issues. Please note that I’m not trying to offend you. In fact, I almost felt I shouldn’t even bother writing anything(that indicates what a lazy minimalist I am). Now that I’m writing, I realize how I could perfect this way of thinking in a different field. Seeing as you already covered the personal aspects. I don’t expect replies from you…But I do congratulate you as a fellow philosopher and as an ideal person. I have never met a person who would suit me in this aspect of life, but now I have hope.