Minimalism: Redefining Society

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Lynn Fang of Upcycled Love.

Every generation needs a new revolution.” – Thomas Jefferson

In my eyes, minimalists are enlightened individuals who want to get the most out of life. They have depth of heart, heightened awareness, and a great deal of courage.

Others often brush minimalism off as something only for the highly principled and disciplined, an unrealistic vision exclusively for those living on the fringe of society. Without a doubt, though, minimalism is growing, seeping slowly into the mainstream.

Its appeal, as readers here know, makes sense considering the context of overconsumption, recession, and environmental degradation. Minimalism is about so much more than the number of items you own, however few. As Jeffrey Tang puts it, minimalists are high connoisseurs of life. According to Brett Oblack, the number one reason for minimalism is more time. More time to live, of course.

Time, experience, life. These are the main themes behind minimalism. What can a non-minimalist learn from a minimalist? How can minimalism change society?

The Power of Minimalism
First and foremost, minimalism is a paradigm shift. Its greatest effect is encouraging people to think, perceive, and behave in a new direction: towards less materialism, and more positive life experiences. Minimalism redefines the nature of life, everyday and overall. Society teaches us to attach our status and reputation to the items we own – luxury brands, the latest gadgets, or the most fashionable attire. Minimalism teaches us to move away from this mentality.

The minimalist, like a scientist, asks,

  • What does it mean to live?
  • What are the basic essentials of a meaningful life?
  • Is that all we need to be happy?

It’s a journey in search of the essentials of living a happy and meaningful life. By taking away clutter, focusing on time and life experiences, the minimalist has few frivolous distractions to lure her into overconsumption and debt. It’s an experiment, in a sense, to see what type of lifestyle can bring about the most happiness and meaning. The best way to start, as all good science does, is with the essentials.

Minimalism in Society
There is great power in the asking of these questions to actually redefine society.
Ultimately, society and culture are what we as individual members make it. If each individual member of our society chose to ask these questions in search of happier lives, we would live in a very different world. Most likely, this world would be much more peaceful, more community-oriented, less damaging to the environment, and, most importantly, happier.

The evidence for minimalism’s effects are clear: Every non-minimalist will begin questioning their possessions, life activities, use of personal time, the experiences they want to create, and capacity to contribute something useful. In effect, minimalism has planted the seeds of change. I know it’s affected my life in this way.

Even if strict minimalism doesn’t spread that far, its message can resonate with everyone, and I do mean everyone. It’s a focus on living life: Imagine a society sharply focused on the experiences that truly matter.


Lynn Fang is on a mission to raise awareness, reduce her impact, and spread love and knowledge. Read all about it at her blog, Upcycled Love. You can also follow her on Twitter.

Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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  1. says

    Great post. I do agree that minimalism’s ability to create that paradigm shift can be powerful. I also believe that it is a step towards a new way of ‘being’, what I like to call ‘deep living’.

    When you couple minimalism with practicing mindfulness (embracing and thriving within the present moment), it is a powerful shot to the arm in terms of living life in a new and dynamic way. I also believe that this one-two punch can raise a new awareness of our place in the broader Web of Life that we call home, and allow us to reconnect with our long-forgotten roots in the natural world.

    And once all this happens, it is our obligation to begin sharing and teaching all of this to the next generation. Sowing these seeds with our children today will undoubtedly bear much fruit as the years and generations go on.

    Thanks again for a great post. Be well.

  2. says

    Great post, I could not agree more! My husband and I have been moving towards a minimalist lifestyl lately, we have a ways to go, but I love not having to worry about so much “stuff”. I also encourage my clients to let go of their stuff, they will be much happier! I love this line in your post.. “the minimalist has few frivolous distractions to lure her into overconsumption and debt.” So true.

  3. says

    summer is a time to find the happiness, to slow down, to really live with less, embrace the warmth, and to sleep, to re-charge and restore.

  4. says

    I am very new to the world of simplifying and minimalism. Over the last month I’ve made many changes and already am starting to understand more about my self. It has allowed me to be happier and to begin focusing on contributing something to help others and not just my self.

  5. Anneke says

    Compared to many I am a minimalist, as I don’t even know what an ipad or an ipod is, let alone own one of them. I do know what a cell phone is but I don’t even have one of those, which used to be embarrassing when I worked for a telecommunications company! But I no longer do, and I still don’t have that many gadgets.

    Or do I? I obviously do have a computer & internet, as well as a landline phone & TV. So perhaps I DO have too many gadgets after all. So I’m confused now. Am I minimalist or not, after all?

    I think what I am trying to say is how much of this do any of us need and what is the defining line of a minimalist? I think the limit is not feeling the urge to rush out and buy the latest this and that as soon as it comes out, but again, does that make any difference if in the end we all buy this stuff anyway? (Not criticizing, just asking).

    So I’m still confused, and I still think I’m a minimalist, but I could be wrong! But I still don’t have an ipod or ipad, if that makes a difference.

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