Sunday, 15 February 2015

5 common misconceptions about minimalists

Think back over the last 48 hours, and if you’re anything like me, the best things you’ve experienced have had nothing to do with physical objects: a really good conversation with a friend; feeling the warm sun on your back after some bitterly cold days; watching your child’s excitement about acting the part of the Minotaur in the upcoming school assembly play. And these are just a few examples!

This is what minimalism essentially is all about: less stuff and more experiences. Many people have embraced a minimalistic lifestyle because they want to get more out of life and don’t see much point in modern society’s passion for possessions. Joshua Becker, who has written popular books on minimalism, encourages us to concern ourselves less with possessions, but more with living.

Minimalism is about less stuff and more experiences

A few misconceptions about minimalism are common, and I want to set the record straight:

Misconception #1:
Minimalists own just 100 things.

The reality:
Some minimalists in fact own just 100 things. However, minimalism means different things to different people. It is a rational, flexible lifestyle concept that can be tailored to anyone’s individual circumstances.

Misconception #2:

Minimalists do not like things.

The reality:
Minimalists do like things and in particular value the things that they own, while removing from their homes anything that is neither functional nor beautiful. What minimalists, on the other hand, do not like is clutter in all its guises.

Misconception #3:

Minimalists have turned to this lifestyle because of a lack of money.

The reality:

The maths behind it is really easy: spending less money on unnecessary stuff means more money is left over for the things that you truly need or desire. In fact, minimalists often even opt for the more expensive, high-quality products when buying new things, which have to “deserve” a place in their homes.

Misconception #4:

It is impossible to be a minimalist with children.

The reality:
It is harder to be a minimalist with children, but not impossible. No one denies that kids should own toys as they help develop their intelligence and imagination. As parents we can teach our kids basic minimalistic principles: that less is often better than more; that always returning things to where they belong will eliminate the need for major search operations etc.

Misconception #5:
A minimalistic life is boring and stark.

The reality:
A minimalist’s home that has been stripped of many things does not necessarily lack warmth or personality. Removing all clutter means you can then display the things that you most value. Spending less on things frees up money to spend on experiences like cinema trips, massages or holidays. Cutting down on commitments means being able to focus better on what really excites or matters to you.

Impossible, boring and stark? Not at all!