Have you ever stopped to wonder exactly why you’re so attracted to minimalism? Is it because you long for a clean and tidy home, with ‘a place for everything and everything in its place’? Perhaps you yearn for more time to spend on travel or with family. Nina Yau just wrote two posts about the alluring beauty of minimalism. Perhaps she’s right and it is a seductive lifestyle for those who are not into it yet. Maybe we are showing people another way of life, which is very different than theirs, but nevertheless very beautiful. If any of these reasons is your reason for pursuing a minimalist lifestyle, than good!
The golden calf
Now, I want to talk about the ‘god of minimalism’. Don’t worry, I’m not going to pronounce a fellow blogger as the official god of minimalism. That’d be… awkward. What I mean is that ‘minimalism’, as a goal on itself can be a god. Or rather an idol. And if that is the reason you’re pursuing it, you should really think twice about what you’re doing. Doing something ‘minimalist’ just for the sake of it is about as dumd as eating just for the sake of eating. You know, without being hungry or nourishing your body. (a.k.a making yourself fat…)
There are some minimalists out there who feel good when they own about 100 personal things. Some even feel better when they only own 50. That’s great for them! Counting the stuff you own and limiting it to a certain number is good, but… limiting your things for the sake of limiting is just crazy. It’s nice and all to have the rule ‘one in, one out’ when it comes to the 35 pieces of clothes you own. But if you really needed that 36th piece, it’d be senseless to throw another well-used piece out, just because you don’t want the number of clothes you own exceeding that 35.
Crazy (but true!) examples
Decluttering and giving away many of your possessions is a great thing! It can be freeing to live with less, it can be time-saving, money-saving and it can even be great to give your excess to people who actually need it. But decluttering and throwing stuff out just for the sake of being a minimalist just isn’t wise. Now, I’ve actually seen people (who were on their journey towards minimalism) ask the following questions, which, to me, is a sign they are completely off-track:
“How many pieces of clothing is considered a minimalist wardrobe?”
“What does a minimalist home-office look like?”
“Which items belong in a minimalist kitchen and which should be tossed?”
Do you see what I mean? First, it’s bad to rely on other people for making personal decisions like that, no matter what. Secondly, why do you even bother asking? Because you care what other people think? Because when you own *gasp* 37 items of clothing, people won’t accept you as a ‘real minimalist’ anymore?
Minimalism is all about freedom
The great thing about this new ‘minimalist movement’ is that it’s largely built on personal freedom. The freedom to do whatever the heck you want with your life. The freedom to turn down consumerism and live a life, contrary to the masses, that suits you. To devote your time to your family or your hobbies. To break the cycle of the wage-slave, counting hours until it’s five o’clock and counting days until his next vacation.
Don’t become enslaved again. The minimalist movement is about being free, not being bound (again!) to a set of strict rules. While actual rules need to be followed, these minimalist guidelines are for bending. You can stop worrying:
Even if you own more clothing than me, think you need a larger house than me and can’t begin to think about a life without your car… you’re still IN the movement. There’s no judgement, or at least there shouldn’t be. (People who do judge others just because the number of items they own are sad, whether it’s how many or how few!) Join the movement and have it work for you. Don’t become enslaved by it. Minimalism shouldn’t be a god.