As the minimalist movement spreads like wildfire, a counter spark of criticism ignites. History demonstrates that no matter what the cause, there will be backlash. I’m not afraid to address backlash. In fact, it solidifies my own values; I find it invigorating.
One of the greatest misconceptions about minimalism is that it’s only for the wealthy. There is this stigma that to purposefully downsize and have nothing, you need money.
It’s true that one of the most common paths to minimalism is that of a rich man enlightened by simplicity. It takes having “everything” (or having what society defines as everything) to realize that “everything” doesn’t provide happiness. In a culture where we’re spoon fed the idea of quantity over quality, those who become too absorbed in material things get slapped by reality. The notion is that minimalism is for the wealthy because they have a safety net.
In American society, what does “having it all” look like?
- Multiple/expensive cars?
- Big house/McMansion?
- Designer clothing?
- Four-year college degree?
- Vacation homes?
- Big-shot career?
- Newest phone/technology?
- Aesthetically pleasing social media profiles?
Notice that most, if not all, of the items on this list are THINGS. When did the American Dream become defined as owning things instead of achieving dreams and pursuing opportunities? We’re a consumerist society no doubt. Consciously and subconsciously, we buy things, we dress a certain way, we stage social media accounts all to achieve a certain status.
But what does “having it all” look like to me?
- Positive relationships with friends and family
- Experiencing nature
- A clean environment
- Achieving personal and spiritual goals
- Health (physically and mentally)
My goals may be very different than yours. I can assure you, I don’t have a large safety net. I am not wealthy. I did not have a mansion and a three-car garage stuffed with belongings when I discovered minimalism. I quit my full-time job to become a college student. I share an apartment with my cousin. I quit coloring my hair to save money. I’m stingy as all hell because I don’t have the finances to spend on things as needed. This is one reason why I became a minimalist.
This is where a definition of minimalism should be revisited. Please take the time to read my post called Minimalism: How I define it. To summarize, minimalism does not have a strict definition. It’s not supposed to be restricting, it’s supposed to be freeing. It’s a customizable tool to help discover meaning in your individual life. Your path will differ from the next persons. The goal of minimalism is not to live in a barren white house with nothing but a lamp and a t-shirt. If it helps you keep a cluttered closet under control, then that’s wonderful. If it’s inspired you to own less than 50 things, way to go! If it has opened your eyes to the consumer driven world we live in and provided you an outlet to rebel, then right on!! Disregard the label, it means nothing in comparison to the actual lifestyle. Don’t feel pressured by the term minimalist. Minimalism means something different to everyone. It’s not a religion or a set of rules. It’s an idea, a lifestyle. I live intentionally to make time for relationships, family, hobbies, and my health. I live intentionally so I can cultivate my own peaceful environment and gain new experience. I use minimalism as a tool to save money and stay motivated.
Stop shaming wealthy people who follow a minimalist lifestyle, and try it for yourself. You do not have to be wealthy to practice minimalism. Use it to save money, to declutter, to achieve a debt free life. Use minimalism to clearly define your own values and discover what you’d like to get out of this life.
Thanks for listening!