What is Minimalism?

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Recently, I have been contemplating what minimalism and living a minimalist lifestyle means.  People are shocked when I tell them I live in a space that is less than 500 square feet.  I am perfectly happy in my less than 500 square foot home and am finding that perhaps I have too many clothes (and need to do a purge to get rid of some of it).  Some people say that minimalists are individuals who own less than 100 items-period, that minimalists do not own homes, do not own a car, do not have cable, or do not have a ton of stuff they are attached to.  Others say that minimalism is a style of furniture, of clean lines and less clutter.  My boyfriend recently got rid of his television set (he also lives in about 550 square feet) because he says he doesn't use it.

What Exactly is a Minimalist Lifestyle?

Time Magazine explained minimalist lifestyle quite well, basically it is the opposite of accumulation of ‘too much stuff' and seeking happiness from within rather from external material goods.  The Minimalists is a blog by Joshua and Ryan, who were driving luxury cars, living in big homes, who had tons of stuff but weren't happy.  They discovered the minimalist lifestyle and state that minimalism is a tool for you to find freedom- it is getting rid of life's excess in order for you to focus on what's important in life.  The luxury cars, the Chanel purse, those may make you happy momentarily, but lasting happiness likely exists elsewhere (though some people may beg to differ).

A Minimalist Gradient

Personally, I believe that there is a gradient of minimalism.  I don't need to shop to make myself feel better, I know that a new purse or handbag doesn't make me happy (what makes me happy is eating half a can of Pringles sour cream and onion chips but I digress).  I have a lot of clothes and shoes (some of which have been in my closet for 10 years and I still wear) and some dresses that I really should get rid of.  I do have a television but I don't have cable.  I have a lot of travel books that I collect and can't get rid of and like to display.  I would probably fall on the medium-minimalist gradient.  I do worry that I will accumulate more stuff if/when I have children.What is Minimalism

The Guy Who Got Rid of his Mortgage in Three Years

Sean Cooper has definitely gone viral.  He's the guy from Toronto who paid off his mortgage in three years.  He became mortgage free at age 31.  However, he worked many many hours a week, lives in his basement suite, didn't own a car, and ate Kraft dinner plenty of times.  He also did not go clothes shopping and did not take a vacation (with the exception of a bus trip somewhere) for the three years he set out to achieve his goal of paying off the mortgage.  Some people frown at that sort of ascetic lifestyle, and others want to emulate it.  I think he would probably be on the higher end of the minimalist gradient, and possibly happier because he knows that he doesn't need to accumulate ‘stuff' to make himself happy.  He now has financial independence and the freedom to feel content that he doesn't have a recurring monthly debt that is hanging over his head.

How to Become More Minimalist

More and more people are adopting the minimalist lifestyle.  How does one become ‘more minimalist?'

Think about what's important to you.  Is it family?  Relationships?  Integrity?  Freedom?  Think about how you get achieve more of these values.

Readers, would you consider yourself a minimalist?  Where do you see yourself on the minimalist gradient?

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Young is a writer and former owner of Young and Thrifty and the main "twitter' behind Young and Thrifty's twitter account. She lives in Vancouver, BC and enjoys long walks on the beach, spending time with her anxious dog, and finding good deals. If you like what you read, consider signing up for email updates.

3 Comments

  1. Catherine Alford on February 22, 2016 at 2:29 pm

    I definitely think the definition of minimalism depends on your life and situation. I think my husband and I are pretty minimalistic, but we still value spending money on and owning some things.



  2. DA on February 25, 2016 at 7:20 am

    II am trying to be a minimalist. I have cable, one car for family and a small condo. Shopping is not fun for me. Recently started getting rid of things i actually don’t need.



  3. Doris Lebel on December 30, 2016 at 9:35 pm

    I’ve just watched on Netflix (2016) entitled “Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things”. A real eye opener about simplifying life. For several years now I have given clothes away to the needy, and have given away items that now have no emotional attachment to me! It’s little things but it sure gives me a good feeling that I am helping out others in need!
    Wonderful concept!!!!



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