Before I started my minimalist journey, I had a vague idea that minimalism had something to do with throwing out most of your possessions and living in an empty house with one chair and one plate. And that didn’t sound very appealing or enjoyable.
Fast forward a few years (and a lot of reading and exploring and discovering), I can truly say minimalism has changed my life in the most amazing ways.
Had I gotten stuck on some off-putting misconceptions about minimalism, I’d have missed out on an incredible journey into self discovery and creating a life of meaning and purpose.
If you’re looking into minimalism as a way of life, here are some common myths (and the truths behind them) that you could run into:
Minimalism is Expensive
If you think you need to spend money on a professional organizer to help you minimize your stuff, buy 53 matching minimalist-looking jars and containers to store your kitchen or bathroom items in, or replace your living room furniture to match a ‘minimalist aesthetic’, then yes, minimalism is going to cost you.
The truth is none of these things are necessary to being a minimalist. There’s no rule that states your possessions need to be decluttered within a specific time frame leaving you feeling frazzled and overwhelmed. Minimalism isn’t matching pasta containers or an all beige living room.
Minimalism is living with less clutter so that you have more time to do things that really matter to you.
It’s about having the physical and mental space to think and be creative.
It’s about not being a mindless consumer of stuff you end up not needing or wanting and rather spending your money on wonderful experiences or fulfilling hobbies.
Minimalism is more than an aesthetic. There’s no need to rush your decluttering and get overwhelmed. Take it slow. Enjoy the process! If it takes a year, that’s ok! The goal is to have things that serve a purpose and make you feel good. And then, the goal is to forget about the things and start living!
Minimalism is an Aesthetic
Minimalism is a lifestyle.
While minimalist interior decorating is certainly a thing, having a neutral color palette throughout your house doesn’t make you a minimalist.
Many minimalists do love natural hues and use them when decorating. They often like to create a feeling of spaciousness in their homes and prefer fewer decorative pieces, ornaments, etc.
But underlying the minimalism aesthetic are some important questions: Does my home make me feel happy? Does it contribute towards a calm state of mind? Does my home feel like a sanctuary or place I can’t wait to escape?
The expression of minimalism is personal and it differs from person to person, but generally there are some common themes that underlie things like home decorating choices…
There is a strong desire to live intentionally, to appreciate simplicity and to find joy in experiences and not in acquiring or hoarding possessions just for the sake of having them.
Minimalism Means Experiencing Lack
It might seem that with fewer possessions, minimalists live in a state of self deprivation. Deprivation means living without things society considers to be a necessity in order to live a pleasant life.
But what if a minimalist has developed different ‘needs’?
For example, my husband and I choose to live without a TV or Netflix. We intentionally made this decision because we found that watching television stole precious hours of our day and negatively impacted our health and our mood. We chose to replace passive consumption with the opportunity to be active and creative.
In fact, minimalism can enable you to feel fulfilled because your focus shifts from external sources of happiness to creating happiness within.
Minimalism is about having enough, but not too much. It’s about keeping things (including relationships, habits and beliefs) that add value and meaning to our life. Why keep the rest?
Oftentimes, it’s about living in moderation so that you can comfortably and joyfully handle what’s on your plate, and you don’t feel overwhelmed or deprived of anything.
Minimalism can allow you to create a meaningful life filled with purpose, appreciation and balance.
Minimalists Don’t Ever Buy Things
One objective of minimalism would certainly be to avoid shopping mindlessly or pointlessly. While I might initially feel gratified, ultimately added clutter, buyer’s regret, or not addressing a potential underlying reason I’m looking for comfort, gratification or validation in this way doesn’t do me any long term service.
But as a philosophy, minimalism is simply about having what you need, and not living with excess. It’s also not about living in deprivation. So, if I need to add some winter clothing items to my wardrobe, I will thoroughly enjoy searching for the perfect piece and adding it to my capsule wardrobe.
I’m able to shop intentionally and make smart purchases because I know exactly what suits me, what I need, what fits my lifestyle and which brands I like to support.
(I discovered all these things as part of my minimalist journey while I was developing a capsule wardrobe that suited my personal style.)
Shopping is simply a mindful pursuit with intention and purpose behind it.
Minimalists Aren’t Sentimental
Because minimalism is about living your life intentionally and meaningfully, keeping sentimental objects is more about what you’re holding onto and why.
By all means, keep things that inspire you and that make you smile! But is there a purpose in boxes and boxes of items that hold wonderful memories, but stay locked in storage or a basement gathering dust, which you will never see or use?
Are the memories these items hold good memories, or ones that hold you back in life? Do they motivate you or keep you stuck in the past and unwilling to live fully in the present?
These questions sometimes reveal a need for introspection and healing. Once these emotions are worked through, it might become evident that the object is now simply an object, and no longer has any ‘sentiment’ attached.
But for sentimental items that add value and meaning to your life, let them have their special place in your home! Find a way to store the memories in a way that frees up space if you’re trying to declutter – maybe uploading old photos into the Cloud. Why not frame your favorites and display them on a wall in your home.
Keeping sentimental items that drag you down doesn’t do anyone much good. But meaningful momentos that ignite joy and inspiration can have a valuable place in your life.
Minimalists Have Boring Lives
Developing a minimalist routine, embracing intentional habits and simplifying my possessions have helped me reclaim my time, and in many ways, my life. I used to rush around, overwhelmed with appointments, household chores and in comparing myself with those around me.
Now, I’ve designed my life in such a way that I have time to do things I love. I have time for my family. I wake up feeling happy and excited about what the future holds.
Many minimalists have embraced the lifestyle so that they can travel around the world or start a business doing something that fulfills them.
This lifestyle allows you to create a life filled with meaning – and that is far from boring.
Minimalism and Decluttering Are The Same Thing
Minimalism and decluttering are not synonymous. Decluttering is an action – it’s removing unnecessary things from your home or life. You can declutter your kitchen, your bedroom, your art supplies or your daily routine. You can also declutter your mind with journalling or meditation.
Decluttering can play a role in creating a minimalist lifestyle, especially as you’re starting out.
It’s helpful to pare down your possessions so that you’re not weighed down by caring for these possessions (think overwhelming amounts of housework), not to mention the many mental and physical benefits of a tidier, more organized living space. (I’ve created some helpful resources if you have decluttering goals!)
Decluttering your routine leaves you with more time to use intentionally. Decluttering your mind improves your mental health, helps you develop healthy coping skills. It gives you the mental space to explore your dreams, develop your creativity and work on your life goals.
While decluttering is an action and a process, minimalism is almost a state of mind. It is a way of looking at life and defining what is important to you.
A minimalist lifestyle encompasses living with meaning and purpose. A life where you’re not encumbered by stuff and have time to do things you love and that fulfill you.
As you journey into minimalism and create the life of your dreams, you’ll find that minimalism becomes a personal expression of who you are and will reflect you in meaningful ways.