What Makes People Decide to Become Minimalists?

Inside: Here you’ll learn why I actually agreed with a negative-ish book review and what it is that drives us into minimalism.

A few weeks back I read a Messy Minimalism book review that referred to the introduction as “trite.”

I had, of course, to Google the exact definition “trite” because all I could picture was the tripe sandwich I ate in Florence, Italy a few years ago. Sorry Florence. It’s a 1 star from me for the tripe sandwich. Do not recommend.

As I read the definition of “trite,” I actually found myself nodding my head in agreement. She was right. The story of how I found minimalism could be considered, “overused” and “lacking originality.” (Though for the record, I do like to think I’ve added my own comic spin to it.)

Why might one refer to it as overused? Well, because it’s how almost every story of finding minimalism begins:

A life of overconsumption leaves one feeling overwhelmed and dissatisfied with the trajectory their life is headed on. –> Insert serendipitous minimalist encounter. –> Cue subsequent 180 degree turn. –> Maybe start a blog about it. 😉

Messy Minimalism

I’d say it’s a tale as old as time except our culture’s obsession with “stuff” is relatively recent. 200 years ago, people’s home’s simply weren’t overflowing with stuff. Yet today, 25% of people with a two car garage can’t even fit a car inside of it.

Sure, my story would be a little more “original” had I found minimalism after say, crash landing an airplane in the mountains and then surviving off the land for months before being rescued by monks. However, that’s just not how my story unfolded, and I’m going to guess it isn’t how yours did either.

While Messy Minimalism offers a funny and approachable take on an often daunting topic, the fact is, I found minimalism at mom group, not on a mountain top.

 I was simply hanging on by a thread, overwhelmed by the weight of too much stuff, when a lovely minimalist mom tossed me a lifeline.

While a variety of factors go into one’s decision to suddenly become a minimalist, our stories are often quite similar. In fact, I’ve found there are three main reasons people decide to go minimalist.

Sure, there are those mystical creatures who seem to have been born with the less is more mindset.  However, for the majority of us, our turning point occurs when we suddenly realize just how heavy a burden we have been unknowingly carrying in the name of consumerism.

Here are the top 3 reasons people opt to go minimalist:

1. Stress and Anxiety

While stuff masquerades itself as simplicity, it often has the exact opposite effect. People are choosing to ditch their excess stuff because they’ve come to realize just how much stress all that stuff adds to their lives.

As a messy person with three messy kids, our home boasted more material possessions than we had the capacity to maintain. If you want a tidier, more organized living space it’s time to stop owning more stuff than you can manage.

best minimalist quotes

You don’t need more organizational bins, better time management skills or tidier children. You need less stuff to organize, manage and tidy.

2. Money

For many, money is a major factor in their decision to minimize. According to Forbes, “Americans spend $24 billion each year to store their stuff in 2.3 billion square feet of these [self-storage] units.”

People are choosing minimalism to not only aid in eliminating the crushing weight of debt, but to spend it instead on things they truly care about and build generational wealth. The younger we are when we realize many of the material possessions we assume we need are actually a waste of money, the longer we’ll have to invest that money, and raise our kids to do the same.

3. Time

Lastly, many people choose minimalism to better prioritize their time. We’re all given a limited number of waking hours to execute the kind of life we want to live. There is no guarantee of tomorrow. When we realize just how much time we’ve already wasted on the accumulation and management of frivolous material possessions, it’s natural to want to turn in the opposite direction.


Our time and attention are our most valuable assetS. Minimalism is a lifestyle dedicated to prioritizing the moments that matter. If the first things are going to be placed first, it’s up to us to prioritize them for ourselves. Nobody is going to do it on our behalf.

I’d love to hear what it was that led you to simplify your life. Bonus points if it looked anything like Tom Hanks in Cast Away. And if it did, maybe call a publisher.

For even more reasons people are choosing to ditch their excess and intentionally live with fewer material possessions read: The Top 7 Reasons People Become Minimalists.

Messy Minimalism, Available Where Books Are Sold

Sick of the clutter, but not quite sure “minimalism” as you know it is for you? You’re probably right. Minimalism as you know it, probably isn’t for you. It wasn’t for me either.
Because of that, Messy Minimalism was born. Messy Minimalism is a doable, grace-based approach to living a clutter free life. It frees you up to embrace the mess, live with less and create an imperfectly perfect home for you.
messy minimalism

For more information on Messy Minimalism head to MessyMinimalism.com

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4 thoughts on “What Makes People Decide to Become Minimalists?

  1. It’s never fun reading negativity about your work…but the silver lining? That person’s self-righteous review spurred a newsletter topic for you. 😉

    My path to practicing minimalism (notice I say “practicing” because I am not yet a minimalist) was similar to yours: I felt overwhelmed in daily life. And once in a while, I would clean out a cupboard or closet I’d feel so light and happy. So I started clearing out more and more. Now I buy less and less. And if I have 5 minutes between work and picking up the kiddo from school, instead of mindless scrolling, I’ll force myself to open a random drawer and get rid of one item. Bonus happiness if I can pitch 2 items in that 5 minutes.

    Getting rid of all those things I was saving for future use or hanging onto because I might need them … they’re going away. And what remains: a cleaner home with just the things I do use and a calm mind. It may be “trite” 😉 but it feels right to me.

    I love your content. And bravo on your book!

  2. I love that your journey to minimalism is “trite”! As a messy mom myself, it’s your down-to-earth, relatable voice that makes me enjoy reading your work. I would relate a lot less to the “plane crash in the mountains” version of finding minimalism 🙂

    My path to practicing minimalism came around the start of the pandemic, after a death in the family. I had the slow realization that so much “stuff” had outlived the person who died…and yet I’d trade all of it in a heartbeat to have that person back. It made me look around myself and my home, at all the stuff I have, and put into perspective how little it all really meant. As my grandma always used to say, “you can’t take it with you.”

    The concept of minimalism also complements the environmental causes that I’m passionate about, and when I’ve decluttered and kept things clean, it provides a huge improvement to my anxiety and mood! Of course…it’s all very much a work in progress 🙂

  3. Thank you Aimee for your sweet words and for sharing your journey here. I love your tip about using the in between time to make progress rather than scrolling! Nice work! Thanks!

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