Minimalism: The Elephant in the Room

Let’s break the ice about minimalism for a second.

When you hear that word, what do you picture? I see a cold, white room with very little personality.

I definitely do not have a pristine living space. Between my dog and traveling husband, there is a constant pile of laundry to fold, smelly dog toys forgotten in the middle of various rooms, and boxes of glassware (necessary for my husband’s job) in open spaces.

My definition of minimalism does not involve living without. There are many minimalists that enjoy doing so. They like to live with as little as possible to get rid of every trace of clutter. They have one pan, one spatula, one pot, one coffee mug, etc. I am not one of those people. I define minimalism as “having enough” – which means different things to different people. I have multiple pots, pants, utensils, etc. because I cook elaborate meals that require multiple tools.

When you start focusing on having less, minimalism becomes your life. Instead of paring down to enjoy more time for hobbies, minimalism becomes an object of obsession. You start asking yourself, “Should I get this blender stick? I already have a regular blender.” Or, “Should I buy this black dress for the office? I already have a black dress.” When you are too focused on making your life a certain way, you are taking valuable brain space from the things that matter. I bought the blender stick because pureeing soup takes seconds. The tool saves me time, which is the end game. The second black dress also saves me time because I have a backup when the other one is dirty.

The other side of it is being able to differentiate between need and want. Yes, the blender stick saves time – but how often do you make pureed soups? Yes, the second dress will prove to be useful – but how often do you wear black dresses to work? I will get into self-awareness in another post, but I just want to plant that thought for now.

You might be asking me, “How are decorations necessary?” Wall art, framed photos, vases of flowers, etc. are not technically necessary in life – their whole point is to elicit emotion from the owner. If you’re wondering if you should decorate your home because it is not minimalist, then you have fallen into the trap I mentioned above of making it too much of a thing that it becomes an unhealthy point of focus. You want that obnoxious vase because it makes you grin when you see it, get it. You want to cover the walls with framed prints life because you enjoy photography? By all means, do so. As long as you purchase things that incite joy, then you found the purpose of that object.

Sincerely, Tania