Am I not a minimalist (but I practice minimalism)

Huffpost recently published an article about the label ‘minimalist’. There is an issue that the author has found with the label and it’s also an issue that I have found. It’s a stereotype more than an accurate description. I brought this issue up on the first post on this blog:

” I hesitate to call myself a minimalist. In part because I am so new to minimalism and I also don’t like the implication that it’s living a life of restriction and deprivation,”

It’s not the only label I have an issue with. I have previously been criticised for my discomfort with the label ‘feminist’. I admit that some of that discomfort comes from feminists who spread hate about other groups. An example being Germaine Greer and the trans exclusionary content that she spreads. White feminists spreading or not acknowledging racism,  and negative stereotypes and tropes about feminists. There are plenty of arguments about why people should use the label anyway. I see myself more as an egalitarian or a human rights advocate. I support feminists like Patrick Stewart and Emma Watson who share my views. Regardless of the label they apply to themselves because the label doesn’t matter, what they say and do does.

And this extends to my view of the minimalist label. I do not call myself a minimalist, I stand with Courtney Carver, Dan Erickson and Jessica Kateryan who each have discussed minimalism misconceptions and each have promoted action over labels. I practice minimalism write in a minimalist blog. I advocate for minimalism and I love debunking myths and talking to people about making do with less. I like sorting through my drawers and deciding what I will throw out, what I will donate and what I will keep (for now). I feel relief in letting go of the burden of stuff that I don’t want. I am not as big a fan of buying less things but I am adjusting. I like Tom Scott’s idea of digitising objects by digitising their stories and the emotions and memories in the object.

I should really be okay with calling myself a minimalist. like I should be okay with calling myself a feminist but I want my actions to speak louder than words.

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What is life without minimalism?

On the surface this is a simple question. Because it’s the life that most people live every day. But to truly understand minimalism we need to understand what it’s not.

As minimalism is a life ideology the best way to look at it is through other life ideologies. A the most common is the modern ‘american dream’ or ‘great australian dream’ or whatever localised version. The core tenants normally being including or being an internetwork of financial security, home ownership and higher education. Financial security is the most interesting on that list in relation to minimalism, because we could take a communistic approach, the wealthy give up their wealth to live within their means and the poor then get the money to live within their means. But that really doesn’t bring to mind financial security. What is financial security? Increasingly it’s about material goods, the newest smartphone the biggest flat screen. It is compulsory consumption. It is what is sold to us in ads and by the ‘more successful’ around us. Increasingly it’s not leading to happiness it’s leading to debt, dissatisfaction and the urge to consume more to fill the hole in our lives. Buying a new shelf to fill with clutter rather than throwing the clutter away. Truly believing that the clutter (emotional and physical) can be solved with better organisation and buying more things rather than letting go. The ‘american dream’ is about following the status quo it’s about living up to the expectations of others and feeling depressed when that doesn’t make you happy. If following the rules doesn’t make you happy then what hope is there. There must be something wrong with you right?

Minimalism is about opting out of the system of compulsive consumption that is not making us happy. I think everyone has something in their life that they can minimise that will make them happier. It might be hard to do, it might be just a wardrobe or your entire home. In the end it’s a journey to a happier future. Not a mandated list of rules about the things you need to get rid of. Really, in the end minimalism might not be a choice consumerism is bad for our planet and bad for human workers.

“we’re going to have to give up a lot, the secret is a lot of that we are not actually going to miss”-Jay Austin

Why minimalism?

Minimalism is a word I saw around but never really got what it meant. I got the living more simply part but I thought that was an unachievable or punishing process of throwing everything away and giving up stuff I like to live as a monk in a bare room.

When I was on youtube one day I saw the popular minimalism videos playlist and I thought I would watch a few videos, gain an insight into other people’s experiences. What I discovered was a more complete meaning of minimalism. It wasn’t about giving up what you like, it was about giving up the things you don’t like so you have time for the things you do. It’s about looking at everything in your life and assessing if you needed it or if it made you happy and if it didn’t then getting rid of it.

I have had a massive clutter issue for years and I just thought that it was because of a lack of storage, that if I just organised stuff better then I wouldn’t have the problems I’ve been facing. It wasn’t an issue of storage it was an issue of hoarding, I kept things because they were gifts, because I was told or believed that they would be useful later. I had my grade 6 graduation dress from 10 years ago in a closet I never even looked in.

I started clearing out my books (and a few of dad’s)books

And clothes

A massive pile of clothes that weighed about as much as a person

 

And yarn I was never going to use and throwing away paper work that wasn’t needed. I’m just starting my journey with minimalism and living lighter. So far the process and feeling of relief as I get rid of things that don’t make me happy and re discover things that do has been amazing and I want to document this process so I can look back and see how far I have come and I want to share concepts of achievable, Individual oriented minimalism.

Minimalism isn’t about how much you own, it’s about how you feel about everything you own.  I hesitate to call myself a minimalist. In part because I am so new to minimalism and I also don’t like the implication that it’s living a life of restriction and deprivation, but as I move through this process we will see how my feelings and life progresses with minimalism.