Definition of Minimalism


Minimalism is a word that has a lot of meaning. To Google, minimalism is art-related. To most others, minimalism is “giving up possessions and live like a Tibetan monk”, or “living out of a backpack”, or at best “living in tiny houses with no decorations”.

Little do people (and Google) know that minimalism is not just art, but a lifestyle; not an extreme lifestyle, but a desirable one.

My 2 Definitions of Minimalism

If you ask minimalist bloggers everywhere, they offer various definitions: Leo Babauta described it to be simplification of the complex and removal of the unnecessary; Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus from The Minimalists mentioned that “minimalism is a tool used to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.”; Courtney Carver has a list of what minimalism is to her; Colin Wright defines it as the reassessment of priorities and removal of anything that don’t provide value to us; and Joshua Becker defined minimalism to be “the intentional promotion of everything I (he) most value and the removal of anything that distracts me (him) from it.”

With these definitions in mind, I summarized minimalism into two definitions:

  1. Minimalism is removing the physically and materially valuable (riches, expensive stuff, etc) to make room for more of the mentally valuable (relationships, passions, experiences, positive emotions, self-growth, etc).
  2. Minimalism is removing commitments that does not coincide with our virtues and placing more attention, focus and effort on commitments which we believe are important instead.

Why two? Let me put it this way: on average, one-third of our time is for sleeping, another one-third for work and the remaining one-third for other stuff. So it’s basically work-life-sleep schedule, but since sleep has very little or nothing to do with minimalism, work and life are what’s left. Work and life is different, so they need different definitions of minimalism. Obviously, the first definition is for life in general. You treasure all things that give value and meaning in your life, and they will give you happiness, well-being and growth. The second definition is for your work. Minimalism at work aims to cut down all unnecessary work and focus only on the important ones in order to reduce stress and have more freedom in deciding what to work on.

Overall, the 2 definitions center around one idea: intentional detachment from the unimportant (a.k.a. minimalism, obviously). The journey on minimalism is not an easy one, but rest assured, you’ll look back and smile on your efforts once you’ve found lasting happiness, maturity, love and less stress.


3 thoughts on “Definition of Minimalism

  1. Pingback: Year in Review: 2014 | Needs Over Wants

  2. Pingback: Minimalism and Social Solitude | Needs Over Wants

  3. Pingback: Some Misconceptions about Minimalism | Needs Over Wants

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