Some people mistakenly try to use the word in the same way you would for minimalist design which would be “characterized by extreme scarcity.”
But it’s a different principle. You can’t characterize a lifestyle in the same way you would inanimate objects. So, what is minimalism supposed to look like?
Clutter-Free living is a practice.
It isn’t a law- there are no numerical or style standards. It’s a practice- meaning it TAKES practice and you do it consciously and consistently. The goal isn’t to achieve perfection or an obsessive state. It’s to prioritize and live in a way that feels full and authentic.
Minimalists, for example, place an emphasis on belongings out of a belief that our environments greatly affect all aspects of our lives. It turns out, science and research are in pretty firm agreement on that front.
All of our belongings require something of us- our time, our focus, our energy. Minimalism prompts you to be intentional about what things you allow to take from you. It’s about practicing awareness of the belongings you own and how they affect you. Not so much quantity, but quality.
The mantra tends to be “less is more”, but less of what? The “what” is just as important as owning fewer things. You want to hold on to the things that make you feel full and that bring out your most authentic self. Then you declutter (or remove) the masses of what’s left. It challenges your mind and your way of life just like a healthy diet and exercise challenges your body.
It’s a mindset shift.
Just like any other area of focused improvement, minimalism is a mindset shift. When you decide to get healthy it requires you to change the way you think about food and exercise. Since minimalism, like essentialism, has a strong emphasis on prioritization, it naturally continues into other areas of your life.
So, while you may start off by decluttering your home, you might find that you end up also streamlining your schedule and prioritizing your relationships. Your mind begins to filter things differently from a built practice.
When done right it should feel healthy and energizing! I share exactly how to achieve this in any home in my free signature masterclass, ‘The Holistic Clutter-Free Formula’. You can click below to watch it now! ?
The history of minimalism.
So, let’s go back in time. If you’re searching for some distant origins of minimalism you can really find mentions of it throughout history. Many religious groups from Buddhism to Christianity have some mention of denouncing possessions to gain spiritual focus or wisdom.
Some more extreme examples include Buddhist monks and Catholic nuns. This just gives you an idea of how far back the principles of reducing belongings in order to gain in areas of more importance.
Now, if you look for an official dictionary definition of minimalism you likely won’t find what you’re looking for. That’s because until fairly recently the word minimalism wasn’t used to define a style of living. In fact, it originally had nothing to do with clutter or belongings.
The term minimalism became popular in the 50’s and 60’s for simplistic trends, first in music and then in art and design. The ideas were similar- to remove all but the instrument or design pieces of focus.
As it became popular in home design and architecture (those whitewashed images with a single element of focus) people began noticing the visually appealing aspects of minimalist style for themselves. But that was just the start.
Minimalism is a movement toward simplicity and away from consumerism.
You know the drill- chances are, you’ve lived it. Both parents working full-time-plus hours, often with little concern from employers who have a bottom line. Welcome to a consumerist society.
WHAT EVEN IS CONSUMERISM?
This isn’t a small-scale issue- it’s something that’s been around since the Industrial Revolution when we moved from handmade products to machines and started mass-producing. Mass-production led to OVERproducing which forced us to find ways to make people buy all of this extra crap we just produced.
Enter advertisements aimed at making you think you want something. And, of course, when one company does it and gets rich, it becomes the new standard. And so, consumption and waste became a way of life for the sake of social status more often than need or use.
It sounds like a mouthful but, basically, people are coming to realize that more stuff doesn’t bring happiness. In fact, it can actually carry more stress and psychological burden.
One catalyst to this whole process has been the insane advancement of the internet. Don’t get me wrong, I looove the internet. However, with the majority of the global population online and the methods for marketing without boundaries being substantially more affordable than tv ads- things are now easier to buy and bring home than ever.
And it’s way more effective. Because now the advertisements are ‘smart’. They’re hyper-focused so that you’re only shown the things that you’re likely to purchase or have purchased in the past. It’s actually pretty creepy how accurate this stuff is.
I mean…it might not be a bad thing. At least these hyper-focused ads are showing you what you were already interested in rather than convince you to become interested in something you’re not.
Bottom line? We buy a lot of stuff.
If you’re looking to unload a lot of the stuff you’ve already bought then I totally recommend checking out my free masterclass where I share my exact holistic clutter-free formula! ?
What is minimalism supposed to do about consumerist standards on the homefront?
The result of a consumerist society has been felt by the daily working class, especially post-recession. Both parents are generally working and the cost of living has continued to increase, the housing market crashed, unemployment skyrocketed and many people became unable to attain the material things- like houses- that used to be a given.
Finding creative ways to not need so much aided in a logical trend to minimalism. Needing less means not killing yourself at a job you hate, it means not needing to ride the ‘consumption and waste’ wave.
And overconsumption isn’t only for the wealthy. No economic classes are immune to the shiny new gadget or toy phenomenon. The only difference is the cost of the object itself.
We purchase in order to receive some level of joy, excitement, or relief from the new object. And we get it…for a little while. This is the cycle of addiction. Something gives us joy for a period of time and then stops. So, we want to fill that joy void with something new.
The result is massive debt and a home cluttered with unused objects that no longer provide a sense of joy or purpose.
What is minimalism supposed to do about these issues? Well, for one, you tend to have more money with less clutter but- more importantly- it may offer relief from this treadmill by adjusting our expectations. When you need less, you’re not pressured to keep up with the purchasing trends.
Working yourself to death doesn’t seem so necessary. Luckily, adapting to living with less doesn’t seem so difficult anymore.
What is minimalism? A freedom movement.
As a movement, the destination is clear- to simplify and become intentional through less- but the path is very customizable.
People crave authenticity. Aside from the clutter-overwhelm and distractions one of the worst outcomes of mass consumerism is the superficiality it breeds.
Many are coming to realize that when you peel back the layers of superficiality you find that the simple authentic core is actually more beautiful and complex. That’s the goal- to find beauty and freedom in the world we live in. What is minimalism if not a practice of highlighting beauty?