Why Minimalism? Why Now?

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!

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3 Responses to Why Minimalism? Why Now?

  1. Dana Murphy says:

    I thoroughly agree that the “Great Recession” has forced many of us to reevaluate what’s really important in life and what is possibly trivial and simply a luxury. It’s amazing when we take inventory of what’s in our closets, for instance, and find so many items that we no longer need or use. I’m ashamed to say that I just cleared out my home recently only to find pairs of shoes I hadn’t worn since 1994….suffice it to say that I had plenty of pieces the Salvation Army was appreciative of receiving….I was ecstatic of providing. My grandmother had many sayings throughout her life she would verbalize to me….I always had the utmost respect for them, as she had such a wealth of life experience…and lived through the “Great Depression”….a phenomenal teacher of values, as we’re witnessing even today. I’ve heard her say, “The more you possess, you’re possessed”…Upon pondering this thought, I couldn’t agree more. Every “thing” we own, buy, keep, or use, needs to be maintained, cared for, supervised, or stored, thus eating away at the precious hours we have each day. I guess it’s really a matter of choice…..I feel that this “Great Recession” we’re now experiencing is essentially allowing each of us an opporunity to redefine what’s really important to each of us. I think of it as a lifetime checkpoint….as I’m 43, I figure what I learn now will benefit me for the next 43 years, God willing! Becoming debt-free and refraining from using credit cards unnecessarily in the last several months has been nothing short of liberating….I used to go to bed occasionally with my checkbook in one hand and a calculator in the other….stressing out over how to manage the 4 credit cards I had carried…Now I simply hit the hay with good jazz music…..so much more enjoyable! Simple living is good living!

  2. Cheryl Gilbert says:

    One of my best friends is from India. He didn’t have shoes until he was sixteen. He now lives in a beautiful, upscale home in one of the best neighborhoods in O.C. He has a business, other properties, and investments. He said that if he had known that the “good” life was this hard, he would have stayed on the farm in his village in India. He was happier there with almost nothing.

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