What Is Minimalism – A Thoughtful, Simple Way of Living

Life is busy and packed with work, home, people, stuff, and more, which tends to contribute to stress.  How can we reduce things and actually enjoy life more?  I will discuss minimalism and how simplifying can make your life less cluttered and stressful while providing you with more space and money. 

Minimalism is a lifestyle of low consumption, needs over wants, experiences, and relationships.  It focuses on effortless living and is characterized by doing more with less in all aspects of life, including art, design, music, lifestyle, and more. 

Are you satisfied with your life, or do you want to simplify things?  Are you looking for a change or an easier way to do something to make room for what’s really important? Incorporating minimalism into your lifestyle can help shift the focus onto what matters most to you.

What Is Minimalism?

Minimalism is a lifestyle and philosophy that centers around the idea of simplifying one’s life by intentionally reducing material possessions, distractions, and unnecessary clutter. It is about focusing on the essentials and letting go of excess in all areas of life, including physical possessions, relationships, commitments, and mental clutter. Minimalism is about finding meaning, purpose, and contentment in what truly matters.

Because there is less stuff to focus on, minimalism as a lifestyle is centered around experiences and relationships.  Minimalism focuses on needs rather than wants.  Minimalism can be practiced in one aspect of life or many, and the great thing is there are no rules on how to pursue this method.

Simply Picking Bell Peppers - What Is Minimalism - Gone Minimal
Simply Picking Bell Peppers

Characteristics of Minimalism

Characteristics of minimalism can be seen in various things — from art and clothing to music and the home.  It’s about the “less is more” principle or doing more with less; less stuff, fewer belongings, less pursuit of material things for more meaningful relationships, more intentionality, more experiences, and more memories.  This can be done through someone’s home, wardrobe, or lifestyle.  Let’s look at some of the characteristics of minimalism:

  1. Uncluttered
  2. Simple
  3. Organized
  4. Intentional living
  5. Quality over quantity
  6. Sustainable
  7. Necessities not wants
  8. Experiences over things
  9. Relationships over stuff

On the grand scale of minimalism, this may seem very generalized and perhaps challenging to visualize minimalism. To help, we’re going to look at the benefits of minimalism.

The philosophy of minimalism is avoiding excess and unnecessary things to focus on embracing people and experiences.

Benefits of Minimalism

Professors Kasey Lloyd and William Pennington of the University of East London define minimalism as a low-consumption lifestyle defined by living with fewer possessions.  It may sound strange to try and do more with less, but believe it or not, minimalism has so many positive characteristics. 

Minimalism is a lifestyle choice focusing on relationships and experiences rather than belongings.  The benefits of this focus on minimalism can include some of the following:

  1. Less clutter
  2. Less cleaning
  3. More space
  4. More fun
  5. Less stress
  6. Better relationships
  7. Saves money
  8. More sustainable
  9. More environmentally friendly

As you can see from these possible results, although it may sound contradictory, living with less can mean having more, and great things can be gained from the minimalist focus and lifestyle.  But what is behind all of this, anyway?  The philosophy of minimalism can provide a better understanding.

A Minimalist Enjoying Nature - What Is Minimalism - Gone Minimal
A Minimalist Enjoying Nature

The Philosophy of Minimalism

According to author Ali Ihsan Okten, the minimalism philosophy is not to tell more than what needs to be told and not to show any more than what needs to be shown.  It’s about focusing on needs for true happiness.  You don’t need the newest smartphone or the biggest house on the block; that’s just a comparison to others. 

The philosophy of minimalism is avoiding excess and unnecessary things to focus on embracing people and experiences.  Minimalism is not about sacrifice — it’s simplicity and utility.  Focusing on simple living, reducing possessions, and living your life is a surprisingly more fulfilling lifestyle than trying to keep up with the mainstream.  The philosophy of minimalism is about living simply and experientially. 

Areas of Minimalism

Minimalism is not just about simplifying everything in your life and perhaps living in a tiny home.  Minimalism can be found in many different areas, and which ones you decide to incorporate into your life is entirely up to you.  

Minimalism in architecture is defined through open floor plans, little ornamentation, clean lines, simple materials, and exposed structural systems.

Minimalism in Design

Minimalism in design is using essential elements only.  No matter the space or item, there’s limited use of materials and a major focus on natural materials.  Minimalism in design uses open and uncluttered spaces, neutral colors, and maximized potential.  It also uses essential ingredients and materials, focusing on sustainability and natural elements. Examples of minimalism in design can be found in:

  1. The home
  2. The office
  3. Websites
  4. Drawings
  5. Food
  6. Clothing
Minimalist Decor - What Is Minimalism - Gone Minimal
Minimalist Decor

Minimalism in Literature

Minimalism in literature is using a specific focus to write and tell a story.  It’s avoiding the fluff, using only essential language and the reader’s imagination.  Nothing is explicitly described or overly worded; it focuses on brevity and simply structured sentences. 

A simplistic premise leaves the reader to utilize their own mental pictures and ideas to construct the story further.  Can you think of a better way to read a book or a story than using your imagination to add to the reading experience?

Minimalism in Architecture

Minimalism in architecture is defined through open floor plans, little ornamentation, clean lines, simple materials, and exposed structural systems.  It is rich in geometric forms, repeated elements, and efficient structures.  There are no fancy built-ins, essential materials only, and simply beautiful forms.  Imagine wide open living spaces with lots of natural light and only the essential furniture for comfort!

Minimalism in Art

Minimalism in art can be seen in drawings, paintings, photography, sculptures, and more.  It is simple and clean with fewer colors, beautiful designs, and simplicity.  Minimalism in art is characterized by basic elements, repeated forms, minimal lines, and relaxing and contemplative nature. 

Simple Pressed Flowers - What Is Minimalism - Gone Minimal
Simple Pressed Flowers

There is not much personal expression or emotion, but it is true to form and beautiful.  There’s nothing to interpret or decipher with minimalism in art — it’s all laid out in plain sight and simple beauty.

Minimalism in Music

Minimalism in music is defined by repetitive patterns, minimal instruments, steady drones, and constant harmony.  It’s not limited to classical music and is found in pop, jazz, and film soundtracks. 

There are simple repeated patterns, chords played through single notes, and gradual rhythm and melody change.  Minimalism in music has fewer instruments and minimal embellishments.  It’s an uncomplicated way to tell a story through music that is soothing and meaningful.

Minimalism Lifestyle

Minimalism lifestyle is an adaptation to simplicity rather than excess.  It is defined by a focus on people, relationships, experiences, and quality over quantity.  Minimalism lifestyle is uncluttered, organized, comfortable, and has no excesses. 

It’s spending time in nature rather than in front of screens, buying necessities rather than wants, and prioritizing comfort and space rather than material things.  Minimalism lifestyle is all about sustainability and simple living.

This helpful video explains minimalism as a lifestyle and how letting go of stuff can change your life.

Related Insights

What is minimalism, and why is it important?

Minimalism is the practice of living with more intention and less “stuff”.  Minimalism is important to many because it helps maintain focus on the things in life that really matter to people.

Will minimalism automatically make me content?

No, minimalism will probably not automatically make you content; however, over time, it has great potential to contribute to your contentment.

What is a minimalist lifestyle?

A minimalist lifestyle is lived with more intention, more meaning, and less stuff.  It is a lifestyle of mindfulness and gratefulness that better preserves resources.

The Areas of Minimalism That Interest Real People Most

I asked friends and family to list which area of minimalism they’d be most interested in learning more about. Here is a table representing the percentages of their responses and what I learned from the poll about what interests people most about minimalism.

Most Interesting Areas of Minimalism
9% of people polled thought tiny homes were the most interesting area of minimalism
9% of people polled thought home decor was the most interesting area of minimalism
14% of people polled thought art was the most interesting area of minimalism
18% of people polled thought music was the most interesting area of minimalism
9% of people polled thought wardrobe was the most interesting area of minimalism
4% of people polled thought self-sufficiency was the most interesting area of minimalism
9% of people polled thought furniture was the most interesting area of minimalism
9% of people polled thought home design was the most interesting area of minimalism
5% of people polled thought photography was the most interesting area of minimalism
14% of people polled thought literature was the most interesting area of minimalism
The Areas of Minimalism That Interest Real People

Other Resources:

Final Thoughts 

Minimalism is simplicity to its core and is, thankfully, not difficult to explain or understand.  People practice minimalism for different reasons, focusing on effortless living.  Whether it’s the way you decorate your home or your entire lifestyle, minimalism is a wonderful way to dare to be different and practice sustainable habits.  How will you incorporate minimalism into your life?

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