Our Definition of Minimalism

In May 2008, our family of four decided to become minimalist. And since then, we have been on a journey to define what that means.

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.

Eventually, we defined minimalism in four aspects:

1. We will remove all “clutter” from our lives.  This process began with physical items as we moved from room to room selling, donating, and recycling everything that we no longer used. Our home began to give life and energy rather than draining it. As we began clearing physical clutter from our lives, we noticed opportunity to remove other non-physical clutter from our lives: emotional clutter, relational clutter, and spiritual clutter. Since then, we have worked hard to maintain a clutter-free life.

2. We will decorate in a minimalist style. Since becoming minimalist, we have removed numerous pieces of furniture and countless decorations from our walls and shelves. What remains is not just clean, sleek, and modern, but is meaningful. The decorations and paintings that remain are the pieces most dear to our souls and lives. And our house draws praise from many who enter and enjoy its simple beauty.

3. We will use our money for things more valuable than physical possessions. Madison Avenue has controlled our finances for too long. Since the day we were born, it has told us what needs to be bought, when it needs to be purchased, and what store we should visit to find the best value. When we chose freedom from material possessions, we broke the control that our consumer-driven, capitalistic society has over us. Suddenly, we have been freed to use our finances to pursue endeavors far greater than those offered at our local department store.

4. We will live a counter-cultural life that is attractive to others. We have met many minimalists over the past year that live a life that is far from attractive to us. They have sold all their possessions to live communally on a farm… no, thanks. They have listed all their possessions on a sheet of paper and determined to eliminate all but 100… no, thanks. Instead, we have determined to live out a rational minimalism that fits our lifestyle and invites others to simplify their lives as well.

The benefits of our decision are unmistakable: more freedom, more impact, more time, and less stress. Since our decision, we have encouraged tens of thousands of households around the world to simplify their life, remove clutter, and become minimalist. After all, if this typical family of four in the suburbs can become minimalist, so can you!

Our definition of minimalism originally appeared as a guest post on the website: Organzing Your Way.

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

    Wonderful post! This is the philosophy that my husband and I have. We have endeavored to live our lives for years and years, not out of a backpack, but in a home smaller than we could afford and with less clutter than most people in the Western world accumulate. Raising four children, we needed roots and community. As I’ve surfed the web for inspiration and like minded friends, I’ve read a lot about lives that don’t match ours. Yours does. Thanks!

  2. says

    Great post – this is very similar to what I am striving for. I think minimalism is different for everyone, since everyone has different requirements for happiness. I think it is very important that no matter how one defines minimalism, it must make us happy.

  3. says

    I am very happy to have found your blog. We are also striving to live very simply and have found that to live simply does mean to live without.
    I have book marked your blog and look forward to reading more.Warm wishes,

  4. coco says

    your blog has helped me so much! we are on similar paths. alot of minimalist blogs are written by single people, so yours is great for me since i have kids. i live in 1000 square feet with 3 kids, 4 dogs and a husband. there is just no room in our house or our lives for extras. i keep paring back more and more and i become more and more happy with our home and home life.

  5. Abby says

    This makes complete sense. I’m so happy to hear about other people taking the concept into their own hands so that is suits them. I’ll keep this in mind if I ever have the attention of settling down and having a family. Right now I live a hybrid lifestyle of yours and those who have everything in a backpack. It’s all about how well the lifestyle fits you and making life count where it really matters.

  6. di says

    As a single Mom with one small income, I’ve kept possessions at a minimum due to
    financial restraints and because I don’t have a lot of time to take care of everything.

    You’d be surprised how stress-free a day can be and how much more can be accomplished if things are simple.

  7. di says

    Life is an experiment. As we progress, certain things have to be removed to make room for the new. Why make it more difficult?

  8. Samantha says

    It is funny to think that until a few months ago, I was stuck in the same consumerist routine, but had always wanted simple living. I got to know a new friend who has now moved on (one of those young, single types always on the move to the next adventure with only a carload of possessions except for the tools of his trade stored at his parent’s place) who awoke something in me- that life didn’t have to be about materialism. It is through that awakening that I found your blog. I have a small family- we decided to go minimalist on children & only have one + 2 small dogs :-) My motivation is not only my achievements so far, but the consciousness that sometimes people come into our lives to teach us lessons that can completely change our world. If only those people could know just how much their temporary presence and one short conversation could change our lives so much.

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  1. How do you define minimalism? | February 9, 2010

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