Inside: Our preconceived ideas about minimalism often hinder us from embracing a life that is sure to change the way we see and respond to the world. Here are five popular definitions of minimalism and how they relate to YOUR minimalism for your REAL LIFE.
Can I be honest with you? I really don’t like the word minimalism.
As a self-declared “minimalist,” I don’t know if I’m supposed to say that, but there it is.
I love everything minimalism stands for, but the word itself? Eh, not so much. It has a tendency to come across as cold, uninviting, and well, a little bit pretentious.
And the thing is, I’m not a minimalist. It’s not who I am. It’s merely something I do. I live a minimalist lifestyle in order to be the best me, live from a place of purpose, and operate at my highest level of contribution.
If you’ve followed this blog for a good length of time, you know I used to be a bit of a perfectionist. Honestly, I probably still bend that way, just less so these days. But early on, my minimalism was just one more method I could use to control outcomes.
However, like breaking in a snug pair of skinny jeans, my real life minimalism began to stretch and shape, moving to fit the life I’m crafting. I’ve got to say, it’s fitting quite nicely. Now, if only we could do something about that pesky title.
The Word Minimalism is Typically Associated With:
- Cold and uninviting homes
- Perfectly curated decor
- Man buns
- Limited to no hobbies
- Uncomfortable (if any) furniture
- Dress like a hobo (I mean, I guess I do that a fair amount)
- Perfectly tidy home
- No modern day amenities such as a washing machine, dishwasher, television, or a car
- Hand washing your laundry everyday
- Must live in either an RV, downtown loft, refurbished school bus, or in a VW van down by the river.
For as long as I can remember, I assumed a minimalist lifestyle was an undesirable life of deprivation. It was for hipsters, monks and crazy people willing to live a life of discomfort, boredom and blandness. Minimalism could never be for me. Besides, life was just too short to settle for “less.” Life was for living to the fullest.
It wasn’t until my ah-ha moment, when I recognized the irony of my assumption.
I was the one who had been settling. Settling for a life chasing the wrong things. Settling for the monotony of managing possessions and striving for approval.
Minimalism helped me find my way back. Back to a home I love, a life full of meaning, and back to the person I was created to be.
A Little Clarity Can Go a Long Way
When someone learns I’m a minimalist, the first thing I try to do is explain away the crazy. I can’t help but assume they too have the same preconceived ideas about minimalism as I once did. I say things like:
“Well, I mean, we didn’t sell our house and car or anything.”
“We still have stuff, just like, not as much as before.”
“I don’t buy as many clothes as I used to. And we keep a simple wardrobe for our kids so mornings are so much easier now.”
“You’d probably think I was lying if you walked in my home around 4:30pm on any given weekday.”
However, if you take a closer look, if you really get to know me, you’ll see my real life minimalism has absolutely nothing to do with what I own or the type of items I opt to keep. In fact, you may even have less square footage, fewer spatulas, vehicles and modern day amenities than we do. While I’m constantly paring down, the stuff isn’t the point.
Here are a four definitions of minimalism that have helped shape my minimalism to fit me and the life I’m crafting.
“The intentional promotion of things that matter and the removal of everything that distracts from that.” – Joshua Becker, Becoming Minimalist
My minimalism came from the recognition that I get to decide what matters most. Nobody else gets to dictate that. I get to decide for myself which things to intentionally promote and which to ditch.
“It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution.” – Greg McKeown, Essentialism
While my becoming a minimalist simply began as a desire to own fewer toys, I quickly realized it was in fact, a search and rescue operation for my heart. Even now, every layer I remove reveals more about the way I was intentionally created.
My real life minimalism unraveled my soul. It’s through the clearing away of the unimportant that we discover who we are, buried deep beneath the rubble of our accumulation and overcommitment.
“Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.” – The Minimalists
I use what I use. What I use is not the excess.
The excess is that stuff in the basement, back of the closet and shelves in the garage, waiting for my “what ifs.” I’m not concerned with pairing down to nothing. It’s about ditching that excess, so I can easily access what it is I do use and let what I don’t need become a blessing to someone else.
“Minimalism is a guardrail, not a destination. It keeps us moving toward a meaningful life by allowing us to more easily identify and eliminate distractions.” -Rachelle Crawford, Abundant Life With Less
My ah-ha moment was a double take, a shaken awake moment where I blinked the fog of sleep from my eyes and saw for the first time that I had been wandering in circles. Minimalism is a guardrail that helps keep me on a course toward a more meaningful life.
The common thread that weaves through each of these definitions is this;
Live with intention
It was this recognition, that minimalism was nothing more than intentionally using my time that shifted everything for me. My stuff was just one giant roadblock keeping me from the life I’ve always wanted. Not wealth, status, or the latest and greatest.
Just an undistracted life of purpose.
Whatever You Call it, Make it Yours
Call it living with less, minimalism, essentialism, simple living or an abundant life with less. Heck, come up with your own word, I don’t care. The most important thing is that we make it our own!
So here I am, with probably still a few too many toothbrushes in our home, working, relatively effortlessly at this point, toward less for the sake of more. This real life minimalism is for everyone. Join me. The benefits keep stacking. I promise, it’s worth it.
For more inspiration
Declutter Your Life
It’s time to stop managing our families and start leading them!
2 years ago I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off. I had no capacity to mom on purpose.
Living with less has gifted me time, space and some much needed perspective of what truly matters most. Below is the link to my FREE Beginner’s Declutter Like a Minimalist Guidebook. It takes a deeper look at the 7 Steps to getting started highlighted in my popular post, Declutter Like a Minimalist.