Some people that I speak with get nervous when they hear the term “minimalist.” For them, it conjures up images of destitution, barren walls, and empty cupboards. Rightly so, they decide that is no way to enjoy life. Believe me, I agree – that is no way to enjoy life.
Maybe that is why I have been called a “rational minimalist” and I wear the label with pride. If you walked into my home today, you would not immediately deduce that a “minimalist” lives here. When you look in our living room, you would see a television, couches, books, and family photos. In our coat closet you would find a variety of coats, boots, scarves, and gloves. In our toy room downstairs, you would find a video game system and some toys on the floor (unless we cleaned them up before you arrived, of course). Since deciding to become minimalist two years ago, we have been on a journey to define what that means for us and how it fits into our life.
We live in suburbia. We have two small children. We are active in our community. We love to entertain and show hospitality. While not exceptional, our life is not identical to anybody else. It is our life – nobody else’s. And if we were going to become minimalist, it would have to be a style of minimalism specific to us. It would require us to ask questions, to give-and-take, to identify what we most value and be humble enough to change course when necessary.
Your particular practice of minimalism is going to look different from anyone else. It must! After all, you live a different life than anyone else. You may have a large family, small family, or no family. You may live on a farm, in a house, or in a studio apartment. You may collect antiques, stamps, or bottle caps. You may love music, movies, or books. You may cherish old photographs, family heirlooms, or romantic letters from a lover.
Find a style of minimalism that works for you. One that is not cumbersome, but freeing based on your values, desires, passions, and rational thinking. Be aware that your definition will not come overnight. It will take time. It will evolve – even change drastically as your life changes. It will require give and take. You will make a few mistakes along the way. And thus, it will also require humility.
But ultimately, you will begin to remove the unneeded things from your life. You will find space to intentionally promote the things you most value and remove anything that distracts you from it.
the preceding is an excerpt from Simplify: 7 Guiding Principles to Help Anyone Declutter Their Home and Life.