MYTHS ABOUT MINIMALISM: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW INSTEAD
Minimalism is a popular and sweeping movement amongst those who want to live a more intentional life, free from unnecessary clutter and distraction. Minimalism enables you to focus on what’s important to you in life and let the rest go. Unfortunately, there are many myths and misconceptions about Minimalism which put people off. Check out this post to learn some of the myths about Minimalism and what you need to know instead!
WHAT IS MINIMALISM?
Before we look at the myths about Minimalism (what Minimalism isn’t), I just wanted to give you this definition of Minimalism (what Minimalism is) from Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist.
It’s the best definition of Minimalism I’ve come across so far and the one that resonated with me when I first began exploring a Minimalist lifestyle for myself…
‘Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it.’
To learn more about it, you might like to read this Helpful Guide to the Minimalist Lifestyle. This will give you an introduction to minimalist living and tips on how you can get started in your own life when you’re ready.
THE MINIMALIST LIFESTYLE AND DEFINING WHAT’S IMPORTANT
The Minimalist lifestyle is about creating more space and time for what matters to you by deliberately focusing on what’s important and purposefully getting rid of excess clutter. It doesn’t matter whether the clutter is physical stuff in your home, commitments in your schedule or too many credit cards in your purse.
If you don’t really love it, need it, appreciate it or it doesn’t add value in some way, then you let it go.
Clutter means different things to different people. Perhaps take a moment to consider what clutter is and what it means to you? Is it…
- Too many things on your To Do list?
- Too many unused toys in the toy box?
- Too many unread emails in your inbox?
- Too many apps on your phone?
Yet, the idea of intentionally and purposefully finding a distinction between what’s clutter and what’s important is what I believe the Minimalist lifestyle is all about.
To learn more about decluttering, why not try my free Declutter Starter Kit? Pop your details in the box below to get your copy…
GENTLE AND COMPASSIONATE MINIMALISM
Even though I write about Minimalist living, sometimes I admit I find it an uncomfortable label. We’re so used to hearing the term defined in a negative sense – it’s a waste of money, it’s unrealistic, you can’t buy anything new, it’s boring, it’s extreme…
There are many Minimalists who choose to live in tiny homes, with little furniture and less than 100 possessions. I’m not one of them and I don’t think I’d ever want to be. But I still consider myself a Minimalist.
I have stuff in cupboards, an extra set of bed linen that I never use but have kept ‘just in case’. I have pictures on my walls and a whole lot of Lego that spills out from my daughter’s Lego box! But I still consider myself a Minimalist.
The reason why I’m a Minimalist is because I have some broad guiding principles that help me make decisions every day about the ‘stuff’ in my life. That stuff is everything from kitchen utensils to the mindsets and habits I try to cultivate daily.
- I have enough of things but not too much
- I spend money but spend it wisely
- I have stuff but I know where it is and what I have
- I know when I feel my home, heart or mind is cluttered and practice regular daily habits to keep this clutter at bay
- I say no sometimes and I’m ok with that
- I have space, ease and calm. When I feel that slipping, I pause, reflect and find it again.
- I have a hoarder husband, a collector daughter, a bouncy dog and juggle work, family and this blog. My life is full, but intentional and yes, Minimalist.
Creating space, defining what’s important and honouring that daily is, to me, what Minimalist living is about. It’s far from the micro-managed Minimalism that the label tends to evoke!
This is also what I try to write about on this site. I encourage you to explore a more Minimalist lifestyle and adapt it to suit your life as it is now. Let yourself be gentle, compassionate, mindful and heart-centred in your approach to Minimalism and you’ll feel the benefits so much more!
BREAKING DOWN THE MYTHS OF MINIMALISM
Minimalism often comes with misconceptions. We make assumptions around what we think it is which block us from giving it a go.
Coming up, I’d like to discuss a few of these myths and encourage you to think a little differently about what a gentle, realistic Minimalist lifestyle could really mean for you.
MYTHS ABOUT MINIMALISM AND WHAT MINIMALISM IS REALLY ABOUT
1. Minimalism is never going shopping
There are many times when I go shopping and plenty of minimalists who spend money. The difference is that, as Francine Jay says, ‘Minimalism is asking why before you buy’. Is there a value or a purpose in what you’re wanting to buy? Value isn’t measured by price tag, quantity or practicality. If something speaks to your heart and you can honestly say your life will be better with that item, then perhaps it’s a worthy purchase. When it comes with conflicting emotions, at the expense of something else or puts you in debt, then maybe re-think whether you really need that item.
Further reading: Minimalism and shopping
2. Minimalism means you count your possessions
There are some Minimalists who do this and good on them! Personally, I haven’t got a clue how many things I own and it’s not really how I quantify how Minimalist I am. Minimalism is more than doing an inventory of your stuff. Sometimes it can act as a helpful guide. For example, if I’ve got 10 pairs of jeans in my wardrobe, I know it’s time to sift through them. Aside from that, numbers mean little to me and I’d rather focus on how my items make me feel as a guide to whether I have too many.
3. Minimalism is for a certain type of person
I think I’d be much more Minimalist if I lived on my own, without kids and toys, a husband and his DIY tools and the extra stuff that comes with a busy family life. That said, my home has just what we need, not really much more or less. It suits our lifestyle, gives us flexibility and is somewhere we love to be. I can tidy and clean easily enough and I don’t ever feel that we’re missing out on family life in our pursuit of a Minimalist life. Minimalism can be for whoever needs it, especially when you remember that a Minimalist life isn’t about less stuff, it’s about more life. And who doesn’t need a little bit more of what lifts us up and less of what brings us down?
Further reading: Minimalism and motherhood
4. Minimalism means perfection
I can’t deny that I like things neat and tidy but I certainly haven’t got rid of everything. If you peek inside some of my cupboards or drawers, you’ll even find them a bit messy or full of stuff. Minimalism isn’t about perfection. It’s about real life just with less stuff generally and more of a mindful eye on what you let in, into those drawers, your inbox, your garage, your home, heart and mind. Tell me I have to go through all my cupboards and make them perfect so I can be a ‘true Minimalist’ and I’ll tell you that I’d rather be out having fun with my family. Minimalism is a guiding principle, not a case for perfection.
5. Minimalism means you get rid of all your stuff
So, now I’ve confessed that I have a bit too much stuff in one or two of my cupboards, I hope you’ve realised that Minimalism is not about getting rid of your stuff. It can be if you want it to be, but if you don’t, that’s fine too. Think of the Minimalist lifestyle as a spectrum and find your own little comfortable place on that spectrum – it’s broad enough for everyone!
Further reading: How to create a minimalist family home
6. Minimalism is boring, empty and unemotional
Nothing could be further from the truth. I turned to Minimalism because I wanted to be the opposite. I wanted a full, rich and happy life, not one that felt like a treadmill. I was fed up of doing the same thing day after day. I wanted creativity, freedom, ease, joy, excitement, growth, learning, laughter whilst still bringing up my kids and paying my bills. The solution for me was to stop following what everyone else was doing and try a new way. I cleared the clutter, created space and filled that space with so much more. Less stuff gave me more life and was definitely not boring, empty or unemotional.
Minimalism is a wonderful, empowering lifestyle that enables you to focus intentionally on the most important things in life without the things that often clutter and distract.
Unfortunately, there are many myths and misconceptions on what it means to be Minimalist that put people off from giving it a go and experiencing the benefits.
I hope this article has helped explain my approach to Minimalism and why I believe there’s value for everyone in exploring Minimalism yourself.
GETTING STARTED WITH MINIMALISM
If you’d like to explore becoming Minimalist in your own life, here are some helpful articles and resources. Remember that Minimalism is a guiding principle not a strict set of criteria you have to meet!