What it Means to be a “Minimalist”

When you hear the word “minimalism,” what comes to mind? When I first heard the word, I immediately thought of living life at the simplest form by getting rid of pretty much all of my possessions. But as I read many stories about other minimalists and as I am going through the process myself, I’m starting to realize it isn’t really about how many items you own. In an essence, the basic concept of minimalism is to “simplify” your things, thoughts, and living. Therefore, there is no right or wrong way to go about becoming a minimalist as long as you stay true to your goal, which is to simplify life.

So, here I wanted to share with you what I believe to be the most common misconceptions people generally have toward minimalists. If you ever considered simplifying your life but haven’t done so because of these misconceptions, I hope this posting can change your mind.

MISCONCEPTION #1 – You need to pretty much throw away all your possessions.

I do believe the first step to adopting a minimalism lifestyle is to declutter and for a very good reason – cleaning out unnecessary things and letting go of stuff that is only taking up space is quite therapeutic. Also, you have more living space and it’s easier to maintain a clean home. But that doesn’t mean you have to let go of everything. As mentioned earlier, the focus should never be on how much stuff you own but rather on “awareness.” The key is to be aware of your possessions and realizing what is really needed and important in your life. If that means to reduce your possession down by 10%, that’s totally fine.

MISCONCEPTION #2 – You need to downsize and move into a small apartment.

When I watch YouTube videos of other minimalists, it’s not uncommon to see people who either lives in a tiny apartment or lives in a truck. If that is something that you believe it meets your goals, I encourage you to go for it. However, if your significant other or family members are not quite ready for a minimalism lifestyle, this plan may not work for you and that’s okay too. Every one of us makes different choices based on our current situation, so you shouldn’t feel pressured to downsize. Don’t misunderstand that all minimalist must need to live with the bare minimum. Work with what you have. Be creative and think of other ways where you can simplify your living. It’s okay to be both a homeowner and a minimalist!

MISCONCEPTION #3 – You aren’t really allowed to buy more than the essentials.

Now that you decluttered your surroundings, the next step is to maintain that state. So, it just wouldn’t make sense to buy stuff after working so hard to get rid of them, right? Well, it’s partially true – your purpose of decluttering in the first place probably wasn’t to fill up the space you just created with more stuff. But that doesn’t mean you are not allowed to buy anything at all. The point is to buy stuff consciously. For example, buying a dresser will help you to create more space as you can organize your clothes and belongings in the dresser. In this case, the purchase you’ve made isn’t really considered as an “essential,” but it aligns with your ultimate goal – to declutter. So, rather than completely limiting yourself from your next purchase, take a moment and be more conscious of your choice.

MISCONCEPTION #4 – Minimalism is all about being free from the materialistic world.

I’m sure majority, if not all, of the minimalist will agree that we just have too much stuff and therefore, we should focus on being free from all of those stuff. Materialistic things should not rule our lives, but rather should be us, our conscious minds who is in control. But that’s just one part of being a minimalist – it’s not all about being free from material things. It’s all about simplifying! This is why I prefer the phrase “simplify life” rather than “minimalism” (for some reason, the word minimalism sounds so minimal…). Be creative – you’ll be surprised of how you can pretty much simplify anything. One of my personal focus through this journey is to simplify information. Nowadays, we are bombarded with too much information. Why can’t everything be presented in a visual chart with bullet points? 🙂

Being a minimalist doesn’t sound too challenging anymore right? Minimalist comes in different shapes and forms (we are all unique!), so don’t be afraid to choose a lifestyle that will fit your personal views and goals the best.

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