The Freedom of Minimalism

From Marie Kondo’s Tidying Up to the Tiny House Movement, minimalism and its different forms have recently made a rise in popularity. While minimalism originated as an art form in the 1950s, it has since broadened to a lifestyle characterized by lessened material possessions and a simplicity of mind and physical space. Over time it has received a reputation of getting rid of things, not buying material things, and what some might view as a “hippie” and “earthy crunchy lifestyle”, but many who have developed a minimalist lifestyle would argue it is much more than that. As The Minimalists, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus explain, “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.” Let’s take a deeper look at some of the benefits of minimalism — all centering around this idea of freedom.

Financial Freedom

One of the most obvious freedoms provided by a lifestyle centered around minimalism is financial freedom. Coupled with an investment in quality, long lasting, and well-thought out purchases, minimalism leans away from things like fast-fashion, throw-away culture, and disposable goods. Simply put: you buy less. And overtime, buying less, and instead investing in quality purchases, whether needed or a wanted item you’ve been saving up to buy, you not only are gaining financial freedom, but adding more meaningful “pieces” to your life.

Freedom of Time

Time spent packing and unpacking seemingly endless boxes when moving, time spent cleaning and organizing and reorganizing, time spent finding and sorting, time spent purging and shopping — in the end our material things take up a lot more of our time than we realize. Having less “things” allows more space in your life, via time, to invest in hobbies, things you are passionate about, or even just spending more of your time at home doing what many people need — rest and relaxation. A decreased focus on things allows more time to do things you really care about.

Aesthetic Freedom

Maybe you have seen images of minimalist interior design, and maybe the clean lines and neutral pallets draw you, or maybe not. What’s most important is understanding how the physical and visual space around you has an impact on your state of mind. Think about entering a spa — the relaxing smells, the soothing music, the dimmed lights, all contributing to an instant relaxation of the body simply by stepping in the door. What you surround yourself with matters. While traditional minimalist design style may not be your style, in the end, it’s not as much about adopting the specific style as it is about surrounding your physical space with intention. If artistic collage walls do that for you, do it. If it means creating space for your library of books, do it. If you enjoy knitting as a pastime, make space for your tools and yarn. It’s about intentionality and freedom to invest your space into what gives meaning to you, what matters to you, not focusing on the accumulation of things, but rather creating a space that gives meaning beyond the things themselves.

I’ll stop here, but the list is endless — freedom from stress, freedom of purpose, freedom from comparison … but with most things environmental, I think it’s always important to remind ourselves that the sustainable choice in the end doesn’t mean being someone you are not or having unrealistic goals for yourself. With minimalism, if you can start today by minimizing your wardrobe or your holiday decorations, start there. Start where you are, and give yourself the grace and the space to breathe. Someone who choses a minimalist lifestyle and sets goals too lofty for themself that can only last them a few months or years, in the end makes less of a difference than the one who is “mostly minimalistic”, maybe not having the perfect 10 piece wardrobe, but buys a few pieces every season and is conscious of only investing in things that a worthwhile and not having an abundance of “things”. It’s about freedom.

“Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from overwhelm. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from depression. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom.”

- The Minimalists