What is Minimalism?

IMG_6756copy.JPGIf you have been reading this blog for awhile, chances are that you’re a friend or acquaintance [or stalker] of mine that just wanted updates on my life and was surprised to see the shift in my posts from weekly updates to a focus on minimalism. You’ve probably stopped reading because you think I’m weird, or you’ve kept reading because this is a new idea that intrigues you. Some of you are very familiar with the concept of minimalism. Others are thinking, “minimal-what?” and have no idea what I’m doing.

What is minimalism?

Many writers, especially radical minimalists, will lead you to believe that minimalism is about quitting your job, throwing out all your belongings and counting them to have the least amount possible, traveling the world, not owning a car, selling your house, living in a bare white room, and doing yoga every day. I’m here to tell you that’s not true.

Well, not entirely. If you want to be location independent and live with ten things, then you will need to quit your job, shed the car, count your things, and be able to travel. While all of these actions have good cause and can lead you to live a happier, simpler life, it may not be for you. Maybe you love your job. Maybe you’re self-employed and already enjoy the freedom of travel. Maybe you love where you live and don’t want to leave. Maybe you’ve tried yoga on multiple occasions and still can’t figure out why in the world anyone would want to remain still in twisted body positions. Maybe you have elderly parents to support, a kid to raise, a Komodo dragon to feed, or some other living creature that depends on you and you can’t quite hop on a plane and run away.

That’s OK. You do not have to do all those things to embrace minimalism. Minimalism is not about ensuring that you only have 37 things. Who cares how many you have? It’s not a contest as to who is the ‘better minimalist.’  Minimalism is not about quitting your job and making money writing blogs from home because, let’s face it, not everyone can do that. Minimalism is not about being a young, single male with no children and huge savings. Leo Babauta has a wife and six kids and lives in one place, yet he’s the writer of the influential minimalist blog. Joshua Becker lives what you might consider as a typical suburban life with a family of four, but he practices and writes about minimalism. Dusti Arab has a daughter and has always lived below the poverty line.

Enough about what minimalism isn’t. Let’s move to how I view and apply minimalism.

Minimalism is about removing unessential items, activities, relationships, and ideas in in your life by shifting your energy and focus to the things in your life that really matter.

Minimalism is about paying attention to the things that bring you the most happiness and peace in your life. Naturally, no two people are alike; therefore, minimalism can be applied in different ways. If you are happy making a living by traveling and writing eBooks, then great! If waking up to your stamp collection brings a smile to your face everyday, keep it! If you are happy with your nine-to-five job and coming home to frozen leftovers, then so be it (but in this case, I’d strongly encourage you to re-evaluate your life and find if you’re just trying to convince yourself that you are happy or if you indeed are, happy).

Do you really need a bigger house? A higher salary? The newest shiny SUV? A large group of acquaintances? The latest gadget released on the market? Do these things really make you happy? Or do these things tie you down?

Minimalism is not an overnight change. It is a steady process in realizing what you value and eliminating the non-essentials in your life. It’s about being honest to yourself about what really matters. It is about placing value on objects and experiences that help you lead a simpler, richer life. It’s about focusing your energy on what you’re most passionate about.

Minimalism as a philosophy can be applied to anything. Your home, your job, your relationships, your commitments, your friends. It is about simplifying your life by prioritizing and organizing every aspect. Minimalism calls for you to remove negative relationships. It eliminates stress and debt. It takes you away from your work desk and to your cherished family and friends. It keeps you from over-booking your schedule with commitments you don’t need.

Overall, minimalism is about achieving personal freedom.

What will reading this blog do for you?

I embrace minimalism and living a sustainable lifestyle. I value positive interactions. I encourage improvement of self and building community with those around you. I cherish life. All of these will appear in my posts, one way or another. Minimalism is not the sole focus of this blog, but is the foundation. While I will be chronicling bits of my minimalist journey, I am also focusing on you.

My goal is to help you find what makes you happy, help you declutter your life, help you maintain valuable relationships, and take all the necessary steps you need to help you live a simple, free, happy life. I have found ways to make my life simpler through minimalism and making environmentally-conscious choices; I want you do the same. You may agree with me 100% and listen to everything I say or you may disagree with many things and challenge my thoughts. You may find some things I share apply to you, while you skip over others. All I ask is that you think about each aspect of your life and ask, “What can I do to make my life better for myself?”


Like this post? You might be interested in:
Leo Babauta’s Minimalist FAQ
My Minimalist Confession
Advice For Aspiring Minimalists (From the Experts)
Minimalism Explained
Minimalism by The Minimalists
Minimalism is a Clear Mind
The Downside of Minimalism.

Want more? Check out these FREE eBooks, both released on January 1, 2011.
Simpler by Matt Madeiro
Minimalist Freedom by Nina Yao

9 thoughts on “What is Minimalism?

    1. I’ve heard of her often and glanced over her Twitter, but have not been able to find a working website/blog by her. Gwenbell.com doesn’t seem to work and I do not know where else to look. Can you help?

  1. I think this is an awesome idea! I loved how u described what minimalism is and it has me thinking of what I can change to make my life better in terms of how I live and my relationships . Very thought provoking !!!! Thank u for giving me the oppertunity to think a little mote deeply than I have in a while.

  2. Thank you for addressing the idea of the “better minimalist.” I love the concept of minimalism, but sometimes I fear that it has become a competition to see who can live with the smallest amount of stuff. True minimalist like you know this is not the goal of minimalism. Thanks for reminding us all what it REALLY means. Great post!

  3. Laura,

    Thanks for the link love. I appreciate it.

    The more I talk about minimalism with people, the more it becomes a broader term to explain something much larger. Not only is it a synecdoche for simplicity, but it seems to be a tool to make life easier by stripping away the unnecessary things so we can focus on what’s important.

    Take care,


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