A minimalist by any other name…

This is a request from the Suggestion Box. Feel free to suggest a topic you would like me to write about if you are interested in seeing something appear on the Born Again Minimalist blog!

What exactly is a minimalist, and how does minimalism differ from simple living, or any other term?  Basically, we’re all doing the same thing, right?  We all want to declutter our homes, break free of consumerism and debt, focus on quality over quantity, and make room for our lives.

I’d like to invite you to watch this video, which I find very amusing.

There are blogs, Twitter feeds, Facebook groups, YouTube videos, and more, just lurking on the internet waiting to teach you how to be a minimalist.  The best part, however, is that you don’t need anyone else to tell you how to live simply, live minimally, live lagom, or live your life any way.  There are guides and advice, sure, but your simple life is how you make it.

Forgive me for citing Wikipedia, but here are some general definitions:

Simple living encompasses a number of different voluntary practices to simplify one’s lifestyle. These may include reducing one’s possessions or increasing self-sufficiency, for example. Simple living may be characterized by individuals being satisfied with what they need rather than want. Although asceticism generally promotes living simply and refraining from luxury and indulgence, not all proponents of simple living are ascetics. Simple living is distinct from those living in forced poverty, as it is a voluntary lifestyle choice.

Adherents may choose simple living for a variety of personal reasons, such as spirituality, health, increase in “quality time” for family and friends, work–life balance, personal taste, frugality, or reducing personal ecological footprint and stress. Simple living can also be a reaction to materialism and conspicuous consumption. Some cite socio-political goals aligned with the anti-consumerist or anti-war movements, including conservation, degrowth, social justice, ethnic diversity, tax resistance and sustainable development.

Okay, cool, this sounds like me.  I’m living simply.  I have reduced my number of possessions, I plan to garden to increase self-sufficiency, I am pretty satisfied with my needs vs. wants.  I live simply for health and personal balance reasons, bordering on spiritual motivations.  I am striving to be anti-consumerist and anti-disposable-items.

Wikipedia also offers the following definition of minimalism:

Minimalism describes movements in various forms of art and design, especially visual art and music, where the work is set out to expose the essence or identity of a subject through eliminating all non-essential forms, features or concepts. Minimalism is any design or style in which the simplest and fewest elements are used to create the maximum effect.

At its root, minimalism refers to music, art, architecture, writing, etc. that seeks to eliminate the superfluous and focus on the important bits.  It makes sense that the term could be applied to a lifestyle with the same basic idea: get rid of the excess and focus on what matters.

Giving a shout-out to Living Lagom, lagom is a term that basically translates to “just the right amount.”

There are as many terms to describe minimalists as there are minimalists.  And there is no one-size-fits-all definition.

Certainly I am not living as small as I could be.  I have a cat, and a compost bin, and I want to garden one day and maybe even keep chickens — these are not pack-up-and-move-your-life things to include in one’s minimalist life, but my intent is not to be able to move my life at the drop of a hat (though the thought of such a life is exhilarating!).  I only hope to live simply, decrease my dependence on corporations and consumerist culture, and be happy and as self-sufficient as possible, with a small carbon footprint.  I can call myself whatever I want, and so can you!

Be simple. Be a minimalist. Live lagom. Seek enlightenment.  Whatever you’re doing, keep it up if it brings you joy.  Remember that minimalism is not a destination — it’s a journey.  And you get to decide how it unfolds!

15 thoughts on “A minimalist by any other name…

  1. Nicola B says:

    Love the video, very funny! The counting possessions and ‘what counts’ can get a bit silly…although I do sometimes think that it would be nice to have little enough stuff to be able to list it without having to look at it!

  2. livingsimplyfree says:

    That video was hilarious. Like you, I have more stuff than I could possibly live with, but what I have gives me pleasure so I am happy where I am. I didn’t start out trying to fit into any particular mold, I simply wanted a home that reflected me and a place where I knew where everything was when I wanted it without having to dig through a cabinet to find it. I think it’s a process of finding one’s self that becomes the best part of living simpler as I learned what was important and what I wanted to do with my time as a result.

  3. Sara says:

    I enjoy reading about minimalism, but I don’t consider myself a minimalist. When I started simplifying my life years ago, I didn’t have debt, I wasn’t a compulsive shopper or anything, but I didn’t really feel I was expressing who I was. That meant I had to let go of the things, values and attitudes that stood in the way of that. I freely and happily surf the (internet) waters of different concepts and terms, but I’m not sure I want to call myself anything in particular. Who I am shifts all the time, but doesn’t ever really change, if that makes sense…Thanks for reminding me that in the end it doesn’t matter what we call ourselves or how we accomplish our goals when, in the end, it’s all about finding joy in our lives!

  4. bornagaingreen says:

    After watching (and immensely enjoying) the video, I confess that the voice I heard from the rest of your post was that of a computer voice. I couldn’t shake the video voice! BTW, considering we have half the same blog name, my name is also Caitlin, and I’m about to check out that enticing post called “No ‘poo” because it sounds silly and fun and it’s probably about shampoo, it seems to be fate that I stumbled upon your blog. Thanks for writing and for reaching out to the world with positive words on living live with more meaning.

  5. Bethany@OurSoCalledLife says:

    So many people shy away from the label “minimalist,” because of the connotations it can bring. It never did that, for me, because I wasn’t even aware of the people who take it to the extreme, for quite awhile. Anyway, I have decided that we’re People Who Don’t Have a Lot of Stuff. I think it should always be written out, not made into an acronym, but then Kerry, from The Simple Year, pointed out that it would be PWD HALOS. I think that’s a pretty good label for us, don’t you? 😉

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