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The term minimalism was popularized in mid 1900s to refer to trends in art and music. The goal of this trend is to pare down to the essential artistic theme of a piece of music or art. As people came to appreciate the focused aesthetic, the term came to refer to lifestyle movement as well.
Here are some common ideas of minimalism. Minimalism should not be confined to these conceptions, but these are some images that often come up in people’s minds when they hear the word minimalism.
When people think of minimalism, they often think of this black and white, sterile, industrial-looking style of living space, like the one above.
And this one.
I actually like that one a lot (above). I think it’s the plants and the off-white paint. They make the energy more inviting.
So if minimalism isn’t only found in those conceptions of it, then where can it be found?
For many people, minimalism is about focus. It’s about focusing on what’s important and essential to them. Some achieve this by owning only 100 personal possessions while others focus on bringing intentionality into their purchases so that they are buying only things they need, things that will bring value to their lives.
Many others use minimalism as a way to bring their cost of living down and achieve financial freedom. Some find financial freedom by living in tiny houses which tend to cost less than the average sized house.
Mostly though, minimalists use minimalism as a way to reconnect with their own dreams and take back their lives from the dictation of the American Dream. So basically, they use minimalism to escape the distracting complexity and speed of modern life.
Success in America is often equated with making a lot of money at a corporate job and owning a new car and a fancy house. Many people, though, feel that this American Dream actually limits freedom with its expectations of consumerism. People feel like they are constantly trying to live up to the standard set by the richest people. People also feel like advertisements persuade them to buy things that they don’t actually need or want and maybe can’t afford either.
In minimalism though, people often find awareness. Awareness that their cost of living doesn’t need to be so high. Awareness that they can free themselves from corporate work and consumerism. Awareness that they may be able to quit their unfulfilling jobs and take back their time/life from the American Dream.
For many too, minimalism is about economy, both of time and money.
Nate Klemp, a political theory teacher, advocates for simplicity because he says:
The things we buy don’t just cost money, they cost us time, effort, and sacrifice.
They cost us our life.
Klemp uses the example of an $80,000 house. He says that instead of thinking about the amount of money that the house costs, people should think of the house as costing the number of months or years that it will take them to make the $80,000. So, you should think of buying things as trading your time and life for those things. Think of your currency as time instead of money. This approach to buying things can help people avoid unnecessary purchases so that they are buying only the things that they truly need and that will bring value to their lives.
Okay, so what is minimalism? Minimalism means different things to different people. There are many different variations of minimalism out there, and all are valid. In weeks of research, I have decided that minimalism can be found in any lifestyle that is intentional, focused and essential.