READ PART 1: What Is Minimalism & What Are The Benefits of It?

When you first get started in your minimalist journey, if you’re thinking about starting, if you’re even interested, or none of the above, you may have some preconceived ideas, maybe even some common minimalism misconceptions, about what it entails.

With a large amount of minimalist-themed videos online, through media articles, or however else, it may look like you have to fulfil specific requirements to fit the lifestyle. If minimalism hasn’t worked for you so far, it just might not be something you enjoy yet. Or, you may be following some of the common minimalism misconceptions that make it feel unattainable.

I am under the belief that, with anything, you need to make it work for you. And what works for you may not work for others. When you compare yourself with others, you notice what it is they are doing and what you are not doing. My advice is to try it all out, see what others do without judgement, and find what makes minimalism unique for you. Keeping that in mind, here are ten minimalism misconceptions that many people believe you must have and do to be a minimalist.

Minimalism means you own close to nothing

Extreme minimalists exist, and it’s pretty cool to see that humans can function day to day, going to a job and going out, with so few items. However, this doesn’t mean you have to live that way. The purpose (and you’ll hear this a lot) is to own things with intention. If you’re passionate about filmmaking, you may own a LOT of equipment, but these items bring value to your life and are bought with an intentional decision.

Minimalism and health - Fit by Kat
Photo by Taryn Elliott

Minimalism means owning under *insert number* items

Similar to the point above, some people believe living under a certain number equals minimalism. Joshua Fields Milburn of The Minimalists owns 288 items, while Colin Wright owns 51 things (but still enforces on his post that owning less isn’t the goal). There is the expression ‘living with less’, but it doesn’t define you by owning an extra pair of shoes or more cutlery than you think a minimalist would have. It’s not about owning nothing, and it’s not about owning a certain amount of things.

Minimalism is only about aesthetics

Believe it or not, you don’t need to have an aesthetically pleasing home to be minimalist, especially if you don’t live alone. You don’t only have to wear three colours. Or take empty Instagram photos. If this all brings you joy and helps your mind feel less cluttered, then, by all means, go for it. But don’t be discouraged if you don’t do these things. Business Insider Australia showcases real minimalist ‘tiny homes’ which do not look like the average aesthetic we see today. I found Matt D’Avella’s home tour to be different from the ideal minimalist YouTuber home.

Minimalism is unaffordable

Contrary to this belief, minimalism may be beneficial for those that aren’t rich. Minimalism is about making intentional decisions and purchases. It will help you forge a mindset that decides against that new pair of shoes or the latest technology when you currently have similar well-functioning items already. You’ll save money to spend on things you really care about.

Minimalism is boring

Minimalism is what you make it. The misconception is that people own nothing, spend nothing, and thus, probably do nothing. Again, minimalism allows you to save money on what you genuinely don’t want, and spend on what you do. You can buy experiences or equipment that supports your passions, or many new ingredients to cook a fresh meal. I found this post intriguing, exploring if minimalism is boring, or if that’s just a perception from society because the minimalists themselves are completely fulfilled and happy in their lives without the need to adhere to societal trends.

Minimalism is only about decluttering

Decluttering is a popular step in someone’s minimalist journey. And that’s just it; in someone’s journey. It is not the be-all and end-all. Decluttering is a by-product of experimenting with minimalism. It is merely an action taken that came as a result in your mindset shift towards more minimalist values. Those values include seeing what doesn’t serve you anymore and making space for what does.

Minimalists don’t own nice things

Minimalism is what you make it. We don’t all have the Kim Kardashian house (or museum?) of luxury minimalism. And to be honest, I wouldn’t want that. Minimalism and luxury can intersect. Similar to the point above, this is all about perception. Is your cup of hot coffee and an excellent book a luxury to you? Or is it that Gucci bag? Either is fine, and if that luxury item is bought because you love it and know you’ll use it often, and it’s not a regular purchase, then you have officially combined luxury and minimalism. Anthony Ongaro from Break The Twitch writes about his experience here. At the same time, this article references the book “Voluntary Simplicity: Toward A Way of Life That Is Outwardly Simple, Inwardly Rich“, which, relating to common minimalism misconceptions, better explains my paragraph on this topic.

Common Minimalism Misconceptions - Fit by Kat
Photo by OVAN

Minimalists are pretentious

When people see excellent results in their life, they want to share it in hopes of inspiring others. Some people may deliver the message in a way that doesn’t sit right with you. Personally, I haven’t come across this. If you have, find the people that share it with love. I enjoy learning from Joshua and Ryan of The Minimalists, Ronald L. Banks, and Anthony Ongaro. I get it. Preaching isn’t practical like sometimes seen in veganism, religion, and even minimalism. Find leaders in your interests that you look up to and listen and learn from them.

Minimalism is a destination

Minimalism is a journey. The only constant in life is change. What you find important to you now might not be important next year. Similarly, something you aren’t interested in now could become a passion in the future. What you buy, what you choose to keep, and what you let go of, is ever-changing. The goal should be to remain intentional throughout the journey and focus on what brings you joy in the present moment.

Minimalism is about following the rules

I said it at the start, and I’ll repeat it – what works for someone else might not work for you. These common minimalism misconceptions, AKA ‘rules’ or ‘generalisations’ come about because they do exist in this lifestyle. However, excelling in one area and not the other does not mean you can’t be part of the community. You may be a parent with children, or a young adult still living at home (*points at myself*), so you could own more items or be around others that are not minimal. You may have no say in the matter.

It is your actions and intentional behaviour that counts.