Why not embracing a minimalist lifestyle is OK

by - May 03, 2020

Minimalist lifestyle graphic - pink flowers

Before I start writing the rest of this post, I just want to say that don't disagree with all aspects of minimalism - there are values to it which I think are positive. Also, I respect the way everyone chooses to live their life.  For anyone that might not be aware of the concept, although I am sure you have probably heard it before: a minimalist lifestyle is having only what you need (both materially and can also be applied mentally). There are definitely benefits to it, but it is not for everyone.

This is a lifestyle which people have claimed ‘changes you for the better’, ‘transforms’ you. But, too often we ignore that this lifestyle takes commitment and that not everyone’s personality fits into this- this will not "transform" and destress your life suddenly and may not even be right for you. In fact trying to follow it can sometimes be more stressful. Happiness isn't correlated directly to this style of living - there are many external factors that influence how happy you are. As you can probably imagine from the title of this post, I’m one of the people that doesn’t quite fit into this minimalist style of living. In this post, I wanted to explore why and explain why it’s okay if you too don’t identify with this lifestyle and shakedown this pressure of either being very consumeristic and buying lots just because it is "trendy" or trying to downsize ridiculously in order to achieve zen. 

I have seen multiple bloggers and influencers talk about living a minimalist lifestyle, which I guess is somewhat ironic considering that many of these bloggers make a living off promoting other products which feeds into the very consumerism they are supposedly against. I find in a lot of how to live your life to the fullest type posts that minimalism pops up quite often as the route to feel on top of your life. The main issue I have with it personally is that it asks people to drastically change a style of living- to go from a consumer culture which society encourages to taking *strictly* only what you need. It is unrealistic to attempt to go from having many personal belongings to only what is strictly essential. In addition, it largely ignores the fact that whilst we shouldn’t focus solely on materialism, that certain belongings that aren’t strictly "necessary" can bring joy, and can bring us some entertainment and that doesn’t have to be bad. If you like something and get use out of it, even if it is not essential to your life, why shouldn't you be able to have it? 

I do agree with sections of the living minimally such as not buying lots of products for the sake of it. But, I feel that we are being encouraged to combat one extreme - the consumerism trend with another extreme- getting rid of almost everything you own. For me, I find I fall somewhere in the middle. I find that the very strict lifestyle of having to work out whether something is truly meaningful or something I 'need' gets me more tied up in knots rather than helping me out and making me feel more "stress-free". I tend to naturally be a person that keeps a lot of possessions, mainly because of the sentimental value they give me - not something the minimalism lifestyle condones. This is another reason why I can't see this lifestyle working for me - why should I feel like I have to get rid of belongings that bring nice memories simply because they aren't "necessary" in my life. Many small elements that aren't essential can actually really contribute to your overall wellbeing.

Maybe I will incorporate some elements of this lifestyle, but I can't quite see myself fully committing to it any time soon. What I am getting at is - there is definitely a pressure for everyone to live like this sometimes across social media and an expectation that this automatically "frees" you, but like anything, the extreme presented frequently is often detrimental and only certain people will find this way of living fulfilling. We shouldn't feel guilty for being able to enjoy possessions that are "unnecessary" - if anything we should feel lucky we get to make the most of them because not everyone can. So cheers 🥂 to embracing the lifestyle you want and not feeling as though you have to be part of what seems to have become a trend that doesn't benefit everyone, takes commitment and is only tailored to a particular type of personality.

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