Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Why I am Not a Minimalist

I know a lot of folks are into minimalism lately, and I understand it's attractiveness and why it's so popular. As a whole, Americans are laden with stuff. I've often felt compelled to just throw everything away and start fresh (I never do. That's way too expensive a proposition with all the things I'd be forced to replace.). So I'm sympathetic to minimalism.

Most of the time, though, when I hear people talk about minimalism it seems unrealistic. Some examples include:

  • You only need enough clothes so that you wear them all and wash them (and you're doing laundry pretty much all the time because of this).
  • You don't need any books, movies, or music. All of that can be borrowed/rented, or found online.
  • No decorations or pictures set out on a shelf - that's clutter.
  • Who cares that your grandma made that blanket for you, it doesn't match your decor so toss it.

By no means do I argue with the idea that Americans in large should learn to be content with less. Nor do I think that decluttering is a bad thing - its something I've been working on for several years. I've downsized a lot. But I don't view it as living minimally, I view it as a part of living simply. 

Simplify your lifestyle. Don't say "yes" to everything. Don't pick up all the Swag you don't need. Do throw away, give away, or donate possessions that don't serve a practical, sentimental, or other specific purpose.


Sentimental value does not have to mean that you can never part with something that was given to you as a gift. It's ok. If it's not enhancing your life or bringing back fond memories it's ok to let it go. At that point it's a burden in your life, and I'm sure that was not the intent of the gift-giver.

By "other specific purpose" I mean that china you rarely use is ok to hold on to. Have a hobby? A collection? You don't have to toss them. Get rid of things you don't need or don't bring you pleasure, don't think because something isn't dreadfully practical it must go.


Though I've been working on downsizing for many years, I have recently tried to regularly find things I don't need/use/etc and handle them appropriately. Some of those decisions were not easy to make, but truthfully, thus far, I've missed nothing, and haven't even felt the cuts.

And that's the point. You can simplify your life by free up your space and time without having to do with the bare minimum. You shouldn't feel guilty for owning things. It's a blessing. Give yourself grace and allow yourself to take pleasure in what you enjoy (unless it's hoarding, then we might need to talk). And think of how you'll be able to bless others by simplifying your life.
  • Your family will be better off because you'll be less stressed because you have fewer things that just get in the way. (double blessing!)
  • If you give away things, there's an obvious way to bless others you know personally!
  • If you donate, you're blessing those who likely are unable to afford to pay full price for something, but are truly in need.
  • If you choose to sale, you're providing the item to someone who wants it, and you're making something off the deal too! (I recommend saving this money, or putting it toward something you need ... not just going out and blowing it on more things you'll just toss later. *grin*)

Live life fully. As I mentioned over here, Satan is the accuser. That's exactly the spirit I've caught from many self-professed minimalists. Condemnation. Guilt. Satan catches you coming and going - first he traps you with a ton of useless-to-you stuff, then he makes you feel guilty for owning any of it. Don't listen to him. That's not the spirit of Christ. He is full of grace and love. He is the provider of our needs, and appears to often bless us above what we need. 

Do stop buying things if won't serve a specific purpose. Clear distractions. Focus on Christ and your family. Simplify, and live life to the max. 

n.b. - I am not saying that if you claim minimalism, you are in league with the Devil. I am commenting on the general spirit I have felt often from self-professed minimalists. Many probably are unaware they convey this spirit when discussing their philosophy. 

Anyway, I do not think most minimalists are true minimalists. I think they usually take what they like and ditch the rest ... you know, minimally applying the philosophy to their lives ok, I know that wasn't funny, but please humor me. Some would argue that what I've articulated is minimalism. If it's helpful to you to think of it that way, that's fine. As long as you know I don't think of it that way and I view minimalism in a different context than simplified living. 

At the heart of the issue, in a broad sense, I would say that minimalism's goal and the goal of living simply are quite similar (don't let stuff bog you down) - the main difference I see is the heart behind the philosophy. One screams you must have less and throws guilt at you because you have; the other is filled with gratitude for what you have and wanting to bless others with what you don't need.

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