picture of a church - is minimalism just a trend?

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  1. I consider myself a minimalist and just spent $40 online for a pair of wool underwear for backpacking. Not long underwear. I swim a lot on the trail and my can’t always swim naked. My present underwear are obscene and fall off when I hit the water. It’s about having the RIGHT stuff for me and not wasting money on stuff that doesn’t matter.

  2. Paul Biggs says:

    I very much like Dan’s viewpoint, and I can see how Minimalism can be (and has been) turned into a competition by some people. The crux is that it is a personal journey to a place within, and about reaching a place of comfort within oneself, rather than a state that is dictated by the successes, or failures, of others. If we start to measure ourselves in terms of minimalism, we will inevitably feel that we are left wanting, which is a similar state to that of materialism (keeping “down with the Joneses”). Dan is right in that Minimalism has become monetised, certainly in the mainstream media, and started to be treated as a trend, rather than a personal matter. I am also aware that it is a privilege to be able to be a Minimalist as many in the poorer places of the world have no choice and minimalism is, for them, how they are compelled to live through poverty.

    1. “Keeping down with the Joneses”. Love this, Paul. I’m glad you resonated with Dan’s viewpoints. You touched on an interesting point with the privilege thing, and it’s something I’ll have to unpack a little more in a future post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the state of minimalism.

  3. Great post, Michael. I understand that all of my points can be a stretch, and that they all have antitheses. I’m still living as I always have, conscious of what I consume and how much I spend. However, I also feel less restricted within the boundaries of my own life. I think you make good counterpoints. The only one I really have to question is the one about what it means to be a minimalist. I’ve seen the idea that “minimalism” can be whatever one wants it to be repeatedly. I don’t buy it. Many who write about minimalism create a sense of what it means to be a minimalist. They create that through their words and imagery. I was ridiculed early on in my journey by “The Minimalists” for not really being a minimalist in their first podcast. I’ve felt similar treatment when contacting other well-known minimalists to attempt to communicate about working together. Saying that minimalism can be whatever you want it to be is like saying you can go on a diet and still eat whatever you want. We know there are diets that make those claims. We also know they are scams. For me, the bottom line was simple. I felt very uncomfortable with the idea of monetizing minimalism. It’s not only ironic, but feels a little too pushy for me. Books and music feel a little more tangible products for me. And I can still include the ideas of simplicity within my work. Minimalism does go back to the mid-1900s as art. However, as a lifestyle, I think the label is fairly new. The monks of old probably did not call themselves minimalists. Nor did the stoics. I’ll always remain a fellow traveler of the ideology, I just don’t want to be one of the clergy. Thanks for continuing to follow my writing and keep up your good work.

    1. Thank you, Dan. It’s nice to hear from you again 🙂 It’s a shame to hear about your experiences early on in your minimalism journey. I can also understand the internal wrestle with monetising minimalism. It’s something Maša, and I struggle with all the time.
      The rules thing is interesting to me. A concept? Sure. But I’m just not so sure what these rules look like, and it’s fascinating that people feel like they have the right to enforce these made-up rules. Like the fact that you were told that you weren’t a minimalist. Based on what? It will be interesting to see where this movement goes in the future. All the best.

  4. Michael, thanks for the article and insights. I’ve become much more comfortable with the anti-consumerism part of minimalism. Yes, seeing ads and product endorsements by professional minimalists is sometimes cringe worthy. I choose to reuse the plastic bags dry food is sold in to store leftovers or share baked goods with a friend rather than spend $12 USD on a small silicone clear zip bag endorsed in a blog or by a YouTuber. I do no spend or low spend challenges, shop my closet, shop my pantry, etc. I learned this summer how my shopping patterns, even with zero waste, buying loss leaders and being mindful about each purchase was often about seeking attention and social connection from others. Wearing out clothes and eating through pantry items has me now only purchasing produce, fuel and housing related expenses for my mortgage paid off lifestyle. I may have six shirts and two pairs of shorts that are far from “sparking joy”, but I’m getting to wear them as I work out in the garden without staining my nicer apparel. With the money saved, I’m planning to use it for environmentally conscious investments to help fund part of my retirement.

    1. Ha! Love this Rhea. You’re clearly comfortable doing what is right for you, which is what I believe is what minimalism is all about. I also like the overall awareness you have of the impact of the things you use and consume. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Thanks for the post Michael.
    I can see where Dan is coming from. Minimalism is now mainstream and seems to represent a perfectly curated aesthetic on Instagram and other social media. It creates an impossible standard that makes people feel inadequate, much like organized religion or health and wellness. I suppose this is a very human reaction to things that are good for us. We see the same pattern play out with all genuinely good ideas that become popular: morality and philosophy becomes strict organized religion, health and wellness becomes dangerous diets and impossible exercise routines, minimalism becomes a product to buy, even as you are told you have too many things. I have learned to tune out social media and follow my own way: Treat everyone with respect they deserve, eat clean and stay active, and own high quality things I use on a regular basis and nothing more. That will never go out of style for me because they are timeless guidelines for living life.

    1. Well said, Dom. Cut through the noise and find your own timeless principles regardless of the label. The desire for the minimalist aesthetic by observing how other people are living online can completely consume us if we’re not aware of the impact. Thanks for sharing.