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:
Hold the phone.
Are people trying to be minimalist to be trendy? Is it hipster?
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?
“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.”
I like both of these definitions, but I’d add that there are two different types of minimalism:
- An aesthetic – monochrome colors, lots of white and bare space
- 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.
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Minimalism As A Lifestyle
Minimalism 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.
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The Challenges of Minimalism
It’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….
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?
In 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?