Minimalism

Is Minimalism Just Another Trend?

Is Minimalism Just Another Trend?

A few months ago, I stumbled upon a video of a girl decluttering your closet (she’s kinda popular, you might have heard of her). Most of the comments were positive, and many viewers felt inspired to clean out their own wardrobes, but I came across one comment that I thought was interesting:

Trend

Hold the phone.

Are people trying to be minimalist to be trendy? Is it hipster?

Has Marie Kondo turned everyone into a minimalist? Here's what you really need to know about downsizing, decluttering, and minimalism!
As someone who likes to simplify everything, I never once considered that it might be a trend. This got me thinking.

What exactly is minimalism?

Is Minimalism Just Another Trend? | The Blissful Mind

“The key idea of minimalism is this: Remove what isn’t adding value to your life, to make room for stuff that is.”

Anushka from Into-Mind


“Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.”

– The Minimalists

I like both of these definitions, but I’d add that there are two different types of minimalism:

  1. An aesthetic – monochrome colors, lots of white and bare space
  2. A lifestyle – owning less stuff, living with what’s necessary, giving less meaning to material possessions

Both forms of minimalism seem to becoming mainstream, but the two aren’t necessarily dependent on each other. You could be a minimalist with a bright and colorful home, just as you could have a Scandinavian-style apartment but not consider yourself a minimalist.

I think Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is a major contributor to minimalism’s current popularity and ‘trendiness’, if that’s what we’re calling it. Ever since it become a best-selling book, people have jumped on the bandwagon to declutter their homes and get rid of what they don’t need.

But decluttering your home and closet doesn’t make you a minimalist. After all, you could declutter everything only to replace it with new stuff.

Now, I’m not here to preach to you about why you should be a minimalist. Rather, I’m hoping to explain a little more about what minimalism really is and clear up any confusion people might have. I’m not an expert on the subject, nor am I the perfect example of a minimalist, but I do find it fascinating and see many people benefiting from it.


RELATED POST: Can You Declutter Your Home For Good?


Minimalism As A Lifestyle

Is Minimalism Just Another Trend? | The Blissful MindMinimalism as a lifestyle is more than decluttering, more than owning only a few things, more than having a capsule wardrobe. I think it’s about having a clearer mind, free from so many distractions and unnecessary responsibilities, which ultimately allows you to make decisions that are more deliberate and worthwhile.

It’s not a game to see who can own the fewest amount of items, nor a cult that that criticizes others for owning too much. Neither is it about having an entirely monochrome wardrobe. It’s about living with what makes you happy, what’s useful to you, and what makes your life easier. Once you eliminate the things that don’t benefit you, you’re able to focus on what’s truly important – whether that be your personal goals, family, work, volunteering, etc.

It’s also about consuming less information and choosing wisely when it comes to educating yourself. Not all information is beneficial, and it takes a focused mind to weed out the unnecessary stuff.

I try to own less for a few reasons: I don’t want to feel like my stuff owns me, I’m terrible at making choices, and I’ve moved quite a lot recently and having fewer physical items helps.

Decluttering can be a quick fix for someone whose life is messy and they need to feel like they have control over something, but most people return back to their old ways, buy more things, and thus the cycle continues; however, if you start eliminating the things that aren’t advantageous to your well-being, beyond just clothing and household items, it does eventually become a way of life.


RELATED POST: 7-Day Media Detox Challenge


The Challenges of Minimalism

Is Minimalism Just Another Trend? | The Blissful MindIt’s not exactly easy to live this way. People and companies are really good at persuading you to buy things. As a society, we enjoy shopping because we get something new and exciting out of it. Once that excitement dies down, we get bored, so we repeat the process because we want that excitement again. Most people have a hard time understanding why anyone would want to be a minimalist because shopping is part of our culture, but funnily enough, minimalism allows you to explore new ways of finding that same excitement without having to whip out your wallet.

Unfortunately, people also judge you based on your possessions. It’s ingrained in us from the moment we start elementary school which is another reason we constantly feel the need to buy new things.

Also, this happens….

Minimalism Trend

This is a comment from Jennifer L. Scott’s TEDx talk about her 10-Item Wardrobe.

I could go off on a whole tangent about the ‘abundance’ in America and going back to ‘a time when people live in poverty’ (hello, that is reality), but why should we own more clothes just for the sake of it? If a woman can get by with only 10 items per season, I’m pretty damn impressed. That’s less money she’s spending on clothes, less time spent shopping, and more time doing what matters to her.

Not everyone is going to understand minimalism, and that’s a challenge within itself. While it’s important to educate others, it’s more important to be confident in your decision for choosing your lifestyle and not letting people convince you otherwise.

Is there a downside to minimalism?

Is Minimalism Just Another Trend? | The Blissful MindIn my opinion, I don’t see anything wrong with challenging consumerism, materialism, and wastefulness. Living with less to give yourself more emotional, financial, and physical freedom – why shouldn’t people embrace that? For one thing, you have fewer items to clean (woo!), and you’re not constantly worried that someone’s going to steal your stuff (that’s my irrational fear, ha!).

I absolutely agree with the first video commenter that getting rid of all of your clothes at once is a terrible idea. You need something to wear after all. But holding on to things just because you spent money on them, or it seems wasteful to get rid of them is a waste.

Maybe in addition to decluttering her closet, Ingrid could have discussed the issues with consumerism and encouraged her large following of young girls to focus less on material possessions. I’m not sure if she personally believes this considering she’s built an empire on fashion and beauty, but her video is still a step in the right direction.

So, is minimalism just another trend?

If we think of minimalism as just decluttering your closet and donating your old clothes to charity, then yes, that’s very trendy right now.

But if you slowly start removing the things that aren’t adding value to your life, including things, activities, thoughts, and even people, you will eventually realize that minimalism isn’t something you do to be cool. It’s something that can have a major impact on your life, and something you can do to have a major impact on the world.

What do you think? Is minimalism just a trend that will pass?

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Tags : minimalism
Catherine Beard
Hi, I'm Catherine! I'm the mindset coach and writer behind The Blissful Mind. Whether you're trying to reduce stress, slow down, or feel more content, I’m here to help make life a little calmer.

34 Comments

  1. I really hope that it’s not just a trend! While I think it’s okay to hold onto some things that have meaning to you but might otherwise be clutter, I think it’s important to not live wastefully. The minimal aesthetic strikes me as a trend too. I’d be really interested to see more minimalism lifestyle reflected in various aesthetics, like boho or something, instead of just the shiny black/white/pastel you usually associate minimalism with -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s

    1. Absolutely, I’ve definitely been trying to be more conscious about what I buy in the first place so that I know I won’t get bored of it and end up wasting it. I know people are trying to stay away from Forever 21 and stores like that because most of their clothing items are trendy and you won’t wear them for very long (or they won’t even last you very long because of the quality). I think Daisy from Simplicity Relished has quite a boho vibe and she’s a minimalist (http://simplicityrelished.com/category/wardrobe), but I agree that you don’t see much variation these days!

  2. Catherine, I always love how insightful your posts are!
    The “minimalist” trend portrays our belongings as stifling and a barrier towards finding meaning and purpose in our lives. I don’t necessarily view my things as a distraction or as something negative or wrong. Once I was carrying a lot of stuff and this man said to me “oh, you look so burdened by your belongings.” I didn’t feel burdened and at that time I was so thankful because the things I was carrying were super helpful to me that day. If you feel the stuff you have weighs you down, that’s cool but you shouldn’t assume that everyone feels that way. There is another awesome post on the fresh exchange about de-cluttering (not what you think) http://thefreshexchangeblog.com/2015/07/decluttering/. :) :)

    1. I agree, the trend focuses too much on ‘things’ and not enough on how it can benefit your mind and well-being. That’s so interesting that he said that to you! How would he know? Haha! As long as you are content with what you have, no one can make you feel otherwise! Also, love that post from the Fresh Exchange, especially the part about how clutter can come from relationships. Totally true xx

  3. It’s so funny that you are writing about this because the other day I was noticing how much the minimalist blogging theme was in. (I’m counting myself as part of joining in on this trend!) And I will say if you are a minimalist at heart – be a minimalist at heart! Whether it’s less stuff, less color, or the way you take your photos just be true to you.

    I know I was trying to do the minimalist “all white” everything for my blog for awhile… and it just wasn’t me. I like neutrals with bright pops colors and frankly that’s how my closet, house and life looks like.

    Also, my closet is in dire need of a minimalist touch… lol. TOO MANY CLOTHES. I think being able to rely on fewer things is far better than thinking you need everything you want, like I sometimes get in the bad habit of! Such a refreshing post Catherine! xo

    Kelsey | http://www.abalancingpeach.com

    1. Haha yes, definitely a popular theme right now. It helps make blog posts easier to read, but pops of color always add such a nice contrast and a bit more of a personal touch. I love your theme, I think you have a great balance!

      It’s really hard to stop wanting things you don’t need – that’s definitely something I struggle with but I know it’s just something I need to keep working on!

  4. I love love love this post!

    I have to say that when it comes to “minimalism,” I’m a bit more pragmatic about it. For some I’m sure it’s just a phase and they’ll move on to some other life philosophy soon enough. For others, it’s a vehicle towards something greater– perhaps more generosity, more meaning, more courage, more dreams coming true. I hope the latter is the case for those who are experimenting with minimalism. If we are to actually change the way we think about wealth, abundance, and ownership, then it’s much less about the numbers and more about what we do with them.

    1. Definitely, I’m sure it will be a phase for many people because they want to follow the crowd and they’ll only scratch the surface while others dig a lot deeper.

      And yes! Wealth and abundance in our society are synonymous with money, but there’s so much more to it than that. Feeling wealthy because of your experiences, friendships, accomplishments – that’s something I wish people thought about more!

    2. I had a feeling I would see a comment from you here! I was worried when I first started embracing minimalism that I wouldn’t be able to keep with it but as I am discovering more and more benefits I can never imagine moving away. I so agree about it not having to do with numbers but rather with the improved quality of life we experience.

  5. You’ve hit the nail on it’s head! THANK YOU from all of us minimalists (or aspiring minimalists in my case) for clearing up the lifestyle approach from an aesthetic and for speaking so honestly about the challenges and downsides to this un-natural way of reasoning with purchases in our society. You’ve made my night/day/week and I can’t wait to share this with my readers!

    1. Ahh I’m so glad this resonated with you!! This post had been in my drafts forever and I finally just took the time to get all of these floating thoughts out of my head. I’d love to hear more about your minimalist journey too (or maybe that’s what your new secret project is about? *wink* *wink* Maybe not, but I’m still excited to hear what you’re secretly scheming! haha)

      1. Gah, gotta love unleashing one of those “forever draft” posts! I won’t give away too much, but minimalism isn’t in the works for this secret plan… or is it?!?! Haha you’re the best Catherine. Thanks for sharing this again!

  6. Nearly started clapping by the time I finished reading! You get it, Catherine, and I am SO happy you do. Sometimes I do get annoyed when things become a ‘trend’ because trends get blown out of proportion into something that it isn’t, and becomes that ‘quick fix’ that everyone is hoping for. What’s drawn me to minimalism is the idea that I am able to really think about what I buy and think about whether it really adds value to my life or if it just sits there and was a temporary distraction for feeling unhappy about something else in life, in that moment. I also love that you’ve said that there’s more to it than just decluttering, such as ‘consuming’ less, being committed to less activities etc. I think the key thing about minimalism is that it’s not just about owning/doing ‘less’, it’s about understanding what exactly are the things that truly add value and meaning to your life. One of my favourite quotes that I think exemplify minimalism is “Do less with more focus”. Anyways, you rock Catherine and you are so damn wise :)

    1. PS. I love what you wrote here: “Decluttering can be a quick fix for someone whose life is messy and they need to feel like they have control over something, but most people return back to their old ways, buy more things, and thus the cycle continues” -it really describes how much it can just be a trend and a quick fix.

      1. Thank you for such sweet comments, Naomi!! I’m honored that you think I’m wise haha. I think it’s a lot like trying to lose weight since people always want a quick fix, but the answer is really just changing your lifestyle to eat better and exercise more – but most people aren’t willing to commit!

        1. Wise beyond your years, Catherine! Just run into your blog today, great work!!! Been a minimalist myself for over a decade, and it seems to be a bit of a fad right now, but if it helps people in any way, lets welcome it!!!

  7. This is such a good post! I really appreciate how you defined minimalism and weighed the positives and negatives. I do think that minimalism is a bit of a trend but I’m hoping that for a lot of people, it becomes a way of life. We are so blessed to live in the time that we do – there is so much abundance, but like you mentioned, that doesn’t mean we need to be wasteful and have a big closet full of clothes just for the sake of it. I think it’s great that people are becoming more mindful of what they purchase; of where they spend their time, money, and energy.

    1. Thank you, Anna! I’m glad people are being more mindful, too – I hope enough people spread the word and others latch on to it so it’s not referred to as a trend anymore!

  8. I think that it’s definitely a trending lifestyle (so a little bit of both things you talked about). I think if you go minimal because you really like what that whole lifestyle goes for, its awesome, even if you did just hear about because its popular.
    xx, Pia

    http://gymbagsandjetlags.com

    1. Totally! I think it’s great if someone hears about it because it’s popular topic and it resonates with them – hopefully it would resonate strongly enough that it isn’t something you try for a while and then give up.

  9. This is something I SO MUCH appreciate. I think there’s a minimalist “look” like you said with the monochrome. It’s beautiful in pictures, but isn’t so much a state of one’s heart… Then there’s the minimalist lifestyle. I do feel like it’s something I’ve tried to embrace (as a reformed pack rat), but in a way that’s appropriate for my lifestyle (and that doesn’t include black and white and greyscale living… Sometimes I wonder if I’m sort of a minimalist “poser” just wondering how it is that I ended up so colorful in an otherwise careful and neutral space. :)

  10. I think minimalism – as an aesthetic and as a lifestyle – have both taken off as an idea big-time, so as with anything, there will be a backlash. I also think that there are certain people who will be rubbed up the wrong way by things like the tiny home movement, or see them as ripe for parody. I’m not one of them, but can appreciate where they’re coming from. I have definitely noticed the almost-sneery attitude too, with some people proudly calling themselves ‘maximalists’. Here’s my tuppence-worth anyway: http://www.wantless.co.uk/index.php/2015/07/08/bourgeois-solipsistic-self-indulgent/

  11. even if its a trend, i don’t think that matters since you’lll either adopt it whole heartedly and genuinely as a lifestyle change or you won’t because its not right for you. and once it because a lifestyle, its not a trend anymore but just the way you go about your day. trends arise from some sort of social process where we react to the current mode and fight to figure out a new way of doing things. this minimalism thing must be stemming from sometime.

    either way, i’ve found it very satsifying lately to let go of a lot of my belongings. its been difficult and i’m learning to live with less, realizing that i can, and discovering that it makes my life less cluttered.

    Jenn
    A Beautiful Zen

    1. Truth. I guess it just irks me when people don’t take the time to understand what minimalism is all about before jumping to conclusions (but hey, happens all the time with basically anything so whatcha gonna do?) Love that you’ve been giving it a go and being successful at living with less, Jenn!

  12. How many times (as women) do we look at our packed closet and say “I have nothing to wear”? I certainly know I have many times. I feel using the word(s) “spark joy” is good; I would use a phrase “is this my comfy” cloths. Also, look at the clothes you were wear more often than others, the none worn items may be the ones to get rid of (unless they spark you). For all the t-shirts that show you have been “somewhere” and you do not wear or not able to fit in; have a quilt made out of them. That way you will have great memories when you look at them (maybe spark); plus it gives you a snuggle blanket.

    I think minimalism is a personal thing; DE cluttering or minimalism for one person may not be the same for another.

  13. Who cares if its a trend or not? If someone chooses to adopt a certain lifestyle it is a personal decision and their reasons for their choice to do so is no one else’s business. Minimalism is beneficial for the environment and the person practicing it.

  14. Hi,
    One of the best essays on ‘minimalism’ I’ve read in a while. Thank you.
    I whole heartedly agree with your conclusion and that is what I strive to achieve in my life.
    Although de-cluttering is a good physical starting point for anyone who aspire towards simplifying their lives, the recent ‘movement’ seem to define minimalism by just that , in fact just yesterday I watched a YT video on a certain couple’s ‘minimalist journey’ where the first thing they did was to ‘declutter’ their closet and go on shopping for a ideal ‘minimalist’ wardrobe of only blacks , greys and blues. While whatever anyone else does with their lives and closets should not bother me, this does because when a beautiful concept like minimalism is so narrowly framed by superficial concepts like this, it adversely affects those who are looking for information on a real life style change .. like I was , a year ago. I was desperate for a change in the rhythm and just couldn’t define what I wanted. Random words put into google landed me on some prominent ‘minimalist blogs’ which then lead me into understanding that ‘simplifying’ my life might be the change I was looking for.
    As the time went on I unsubscribed from those famous blogs as I started to get the feeling that most of whats put on those blogs were just there to ‘sell’ ‘their minimalism’. I’m very glad that I found your blog through this post. I’m looking forward to exploring more of your writings.
    ~ Ru.

  15. I completely agee. However I do think that some people have jumped on the bandwagon because its ‘hot’ at the moment. But these are the people that don’t actually get that minimalism is about transforming your relationship to stuff and your ideas about what an abundant lifestyle is. Too many people think they are minimalist because they declutter a whole lot of stuff. But they don’t examine why they bought the stuff in the first place and they discard without thought. A genuine minialism takes time to implement. We need to examine our relationship to the things we own, and what is driving our need to accumulate. We need to step off the hampster wheel of consumerism and we need to get in touch with what we value in life.

    There is a fad- but these people are jumping on a trend without understanding it at all. I actually read one minilist blogger say that she likes fast fashion because it wears out fast, so your capsule wardrobe will always be on trend. Ahem, always being on trend is not minimalist at all. Becase you are still a slave to consumption driven by external forces.

    There is so much misinformation out there. When I read Mari Kondo I expected to hate it because of how I have seen her ideas adopted in the West. But her book was completely different to what Iexpected. She talks about valuning the objects in our lives for the way that they have served us. This conscious approach to objects is actually the antidote to mindless consumption and mindlessly discarding. It’s such a shame that so many people have perverted this message. Thanks for doing your part in changing this misperception!

  16. If minimalism is ultimately about happiness, what if stuff makes you happy?

    Perhaps not just the quantity, but the variety?

    My closet is very full, but I actually wear most of my clothes and make a serious effort to rotate them. I’m a clothes chameleon and it makes me happy to look totally different one day to the next. There is no way I can be that happy chameleon with a capsule wardrobe. Quantity is required to give me the variety I crave.

    1. if you need a varied wardrobe to be happy, then it seems to me that it wouldn’t be un-minimalist to keep it.

      for example, would a person who is very passionate about baking be required to get rid of all their utensils and ingredients just to fit into a standard definition of minimalism? in my opinion, they wouldn’t. after all, and like the post says, minimalism is about getting rid of what you don’t need, what doesn’t make you happy, or what doesn’t make your life easier.

      you could easily declutter the rest of your home, mind, and lifestyle while still keeping your large wardrobe (because it makes you happy and you need it to express yourself fully), and you’d still be living a minimalist life. that’s just my two cents tho, and i’m not an expert at all :)

  17. And a random side note: I do feel that minimalism and other “lifestyle movements” are essentially surrogate religions for some people. Blogs, forums, and likeminded community groups are the new scriptural texts and church gatherings.

    People want to feel a part of something. Church and the neighborhood knitting circle used to fill that void. Now I guess we can all feel connected comparing our capsule wardrobes….or something.

    1. In minimalism, there is no comparison to other minimalists. No benchmark. No competition. No one-size-fits-all. To each his own.

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