Searching the internet recently, I was pleasantly surprised to find a large number of blogs about minimalism as a lifestyle.
A few years ago I did the same search and most of the hits were related to architecture and art.
I was very interested in the Simple Living movement several years ago, inspired by authors such as Janet Luhrs and Vicki Robin. Is Minimalism the same concept but just packaged under a different name?
I see some similarities, but I see changes as well.
When I read articles/message boards about Simple Living in the past, there was a big focus on early retirement and homesteading. The average contributor seemed to be middle-aged on the forums I visited.
These new minimalist blogs are frequently penned by writers in their 20’s. They are technologically savvy and very sophisticated. They have iPods, Kindles, and advanced Internet skills.
They’re not necessarily looking to retire early, just get out of the rat race and redefine success on their own terms, often by generating passive income that frees up their time for travel and other experiences. This is really an encouraging trend. Instead of opting to go off-the-grid, why not redefine the grid, redefine the rules of the way the game is played? This new movement seems to be a variant of simple living with a modern twist.
So why is Minimalism generating so much interest now?
I think that, clearly, the “Great Recession” has made a lot of us re-examine our values. Similar to the social movement in the U.S. in the 1960’s, people are starting to ask why we accept the status quo and wonder if there is something better out there than the 9 to 5 grind, the massive debt, the stress and anxiety of keeping all our activities balanced and managing all the stuff that we own. Now that we can customize so many aspects of our personal interests (iPods and TiVo’s, for example), maybe we can extend that concept to crafting a customized lifestyle for ourselves as well.
Minimalism can help – by stripping away the things you don’t need, and spending less money acquiring additional things you don’t need, you gain freedom. Freedom to physically move to another location, with less stuff to lug along. Freedom to make choices unhampered by a massive mortgage or other debt. The effort made to research, purchase, clean, organize and maintain stuff is time consuming. Time you can spend on something more important – your life!