01 March 2013

Am I a Minimalist?

Source: gridGraphic - via Neest

Early this week, I read this interesting post from Joy, who explains that she is not a minimalist and why. As a blogger who touches both the subject of wardrobe curating and the one of life simplification in general, it got me to realize that I never actually considered whether I am a minimalist or not.

What made me think the most in Joy's post, is that it seems she wants to be clear about not being a minimalist so that her blog, and her curation process, remains accessible to all readers. As if the "minimalist" label could be frightening.

Is La Nife only for a minimalist elite?

Although it is clear that la Nife touches the subject of minimalism, does it make me a minimalist, and do readers have to consider themselves minimalists to read my posts or try my experiments?

I don't think so. Of course, minimalists would probably be interested in the content of my blog, but the posts are intended for anyone interested in happiness, style curation, thoughts on life and society, consumerism...

My objective is to share my ideas  and experiments, if it can help readers. What you choose to do with this information is yours to decide. And I really hope you don't get intimidated by my big theories and weird experiments, even if you are no minimalist.

Define: Minimalist

Also, as I understand it, Joy believes she doesn't "deserve" the title of minimalist because she hasn't simplified her life enough. As if there was some sort of high standard to apply to the name of minimalist.

I don't think there is such thing as a perfect minimalist, who is never tempted to buy futilities, who never wastes resources or energy, who always lives by his principles without flinching. There is no magic number, no defined rules to minimalism.

On the contrary, defining high standards and patronizing people about not being a minimalist because they do this and that wrong is, in my opinion, contrary to the minimalist philosophy. I don't think minimalism is linked to a certain amount of possessions or a certain way of life as in meditating or drinking tea all day long; I think that's very cliché.

So what is minimalism? I believe this is a shift in values, a way to see the world. To me, it is redirecting our priorities from money and possessions to social relations, growth and self actualization. The simplification part is a consequence of a minimalist mindset, not a cause nor a requirement.

Then again, this is only my own definition of minimalism, the way I decided to live it. I think you can interpret minimalism just the way you see fit.

So, am I a minimalist?

I think one is a minimalist from the moment they decide to call themselves a minimalist. As Joshua from the minimalists explains here, nobody is a minimalist, until they are. It is not an inaccessible status or some kind of weird order of bald people wearing white linen shirts, drinking tea and running at 6AM every morning.

I personally believe that deciding to be minimalist is enough to start becoming one, on your own terms. And I also believe you can decide you are not a minimalist, and still keep an interest in that kind of questioning about material objects, life priorities and consumerism. As I wrote before, being able to question our system in today's society is already a huge step.

Now, am I a minimalist? Depending on everybody's own definition, maybe I am one to some of you, and maybe I'm not to some others. I have decided not to label myself a minimalist. This may be an aspect of my personality to some extent, but I don't want to be defined by this word.

And, after all, it doesn't matter whether I am a minimalist or not. Just like it doesn't matter if you are, or aspire to be, a minimalist or not. What matters is that I share ideas, experiments and questions with you, that you find value in my posts and that we can exchange our visions of things and all learn from each other. Minimalists or not.


  1. Lots to think about here - didn't realise "minimalist" was such a loaded term.

    I guess the point here is not to view minimalism as a kind of cult with a litany of rules and definitions. Like you said, I think of it as a value I've adopted and I think that's enough to make one a minimalist.

    Perhaps people are reluctant to define themselves as minimalist because it seems leaves little room for sentiment (expressed in physical objects).

    1. Neither did I, actually! Maybe that's why I never bothered wondering if I'm one or not. But you have a point, maybe minimalism is viewed as something "cold", without sentiment, or too serious.

      I'm wondering if maybe there is a problem of expectations too. If someone starts calling himself/herself a minimalist, then people will expect him/her to behave in a certain way and criticize if they watch TV or buy futile stuff (I don't know why, but it seems in common imagination, minimalists don't own a TV)

  2. I don't consider myself a minimalist at all - I am too fond of shiny pretty and superfluous things for that - but I do try to use minimalist thinking to rein in my consumption and to get a more conscious relationship with my spending and with the things I chose to bring into my life (as well as the ones I already own). It is a work in progress, but it helps me keep my priorities straight and my apartment tidy. That is a start :)

    1. I guess it's the goal of minimalism really, getting us to consider our purchases and priorities in life...

      I too own some pretty futile stuff that would have no place in a Tibetan monastery, but like you, I try to use the minimalist mindset to rationalize purchases and priorities. It's so easy to get influenced by other people and advertisements, at least it helps being aware of that and try to tame the tendency... if it makes any sense...

  3. While one day I aspire to be more minimalist, I'm not sure that I will ever get there, or get there in the sense of minimalism that seems to be portrayed in minimalist thinking. I've read a number of books on the topic, and while I can quite easily cut down on household products and gadgets, my weakness is my wardrobe, which I am constantly curating to try and keep it at a manageable level. Once I stop feeling the need to do that, and shopping, will I feel at ease, but like yourself, I don't think I could ever truly call myself a minimalist, regardless of how little I bought. The harder part is trying to convince my boyfriend to let go of a number of trinkets and things that are just unnecessary, and create clutter!

    1. Haha I hear you on the boyfriend's things! It's already hard to trim down when you are alone, but when there's another person (and when there will be kids!) things get even harder. But like I said, to me it's a question of mindset, and not of numbers. Being interested in minimalism is, in my opinion, already a big action.