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Debunking the Myths of Minimalist Living

Debunking the myths of minimalist living

Interested in minimalist or simple living but still have some concerns? We’d like to help you out by dispelling some myths that surround it.

As advocates Joshua Fields and Ryan Nicodemus said, minimalism is not barring you from owning a car, a house or having children. It is all about freedom – from worry, fear, guilt, the trappings of consumerism and so on. It is all about finding “happiness not through things, but through life itself.”1

That said, we have collected the top myths on minimalism that prevent people from fully embracing this way of life. We hope this clears up some of your concerns on simple living.

Debunking the myths of minimalist living - getting more value out of life, not less

Myth #1: Minimalism is simply throwing things out. 

This is absolutely false. Going minimalist should never be equated with dumping all of your things on the trash. It is more than that. It is finding things about yourself and focusing on those that matter. The important thing to ask yourself is the question: what makes you happy?

Minimalists have different approaches to how they live their lives. Joshua and Ryan cite their friend Joshua Becker who has a job, a house, a family and a car. They also cited Tammy Strobel and husband who live in a tiny house and are without a car.  They share one thing in common – they have gotten rid of life’s excesses and focus only on the things that give them happiness, fulfilment and freedom.2

Debunking the myths of minimalist living - do the things that make you happy

Furthermore, simple living is also equated with caring for the environment. For all those excesses that you feel you really need to get rid of in order to live a simple life, do not dump them into the trash. Recycle, re-use, donate. Always think about the environmental impact.

Myth #2: Minimalism is never buying anything for yourself.

Again this is a falsehood. Even if you strip yourself to the very basics, at some point you will need to buy something such as new footwear to replace your unserviceable ones, a jacket to protect you from the very cold weather etc. But you will notice that instead of buying cheap, one-time use only products, minimalists go for high quality materials that will last a long time, are highly functional and sustainable.

Debunking the myths of minimalist living - shop responsibly

At the same time, minimalists often purchase something by design. There is no impulse buying or just getting something for the sake of owning it. Minimalist Sarah Scott said, “I still shop.  I love to wander around looking at other people’s junk.  The difference is I have a purpose in mind.” For minimalists, the purpose is more important than the act of buying. Sarah, for example, bought a teapot so that she could enjoy tea with her family.3

Myth #3: Minimalism means missing out on things.

While it is true that minimalists may miss out on the hottest fads, the most innovative smartphones or the latest fashions, they will never, ever miss out on life experiences. This is because the essence of minimalism, in the words of advocate Joshua Becker, is “the promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts from it.4

Debunking the myths of minimalist living - travelling with friends

Hence, while being a minimalist may result to missing out on material possessions that are not important in the long term, it also means putting more importance on always being there during family dinners, get-togethers with friends, as a shoulder to cry on, giving out warm hugs, among others.

Myth #4: Minimalism is anti-technology & progress.

Minimalists are not necessarily opposed to technology and progress. A lot of minimalists continue to have cars and use technology in their everyday living. The difference is that they are more discerning and use technology for a purpose and do not let it dominate their lives. For example, they use a cellphone to connect with friends and family but never let it disrupt real-life connections.

Debunking the myths of minimalist living - buy quality not quantity

Myth #5: Minimalism will negatively change the way you connect with people.

This is absolute rubbish. Minimalism will not negatively affect your relationships with people. It is even expected to enhance it. While of course it is expected for minimalists to be teased by friends for maybe not being conscious about the latest fashions or celebrity gossip, minimalism is expected to cut through the materialism of relationships and go back to the basics — sharing stories, bonding on activities, being there for the person etc. which are after all, significant because as they say, presence is more important than presents.

Are you aware of any other minimalism myths? Share them with us and we’ll be happy to discuss them with you.

Show 4 footnotes

  1.  Milburn, J.F. & Nicodemus, R. no date. What is Minimalism? TheMinimalists.com. Available at: http://www.theminimalists.com/minimalism/
  2. Ibid.
  3.  Scott, S. no date. Minimalist Motivation: Myths about Minimalism. Sarah on Purpose. Available at: http://www.sarahonpurpose.com/simple-on-purpose-myths-about-simple-living/
  4.  Becker, J. no date. Addressing Minimalism’s Misconceptions. Becoming Minimalist. Available at: http://www.becomingminimalist.com/addressing-minimalisms-misconceptions/.

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About the author

Polly Michelle Cunanan

Polly Michelle Cunanan

Polly Michelle Cunanan is a results-driven media and communication expert with over 15 years of experience and proven track record in working with the Philippine Government and donor agencies such as the USAID, World Bank, UN-FAO, ADB, European Union (EU) and media. Political and strategic communication, messaging and campaigns are among her expertise. She spearheaded the communication program on the Bangsamoro peace process which led to a conducive environment for the signing of the historic Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. She is a graduate of BA Broadcast Communication from the University of the Philippines and has completed the academic requirements for MA Communication Research from the same university. She is a UK Chevening scholar currently studying MA International Public Relations and Global Communications Management at Cardiff University.

2 Comments

  • Another myth is that you have to rid your home of clutter, which some people think to mean the little sentimental things that represent you and/or your family, like photos frames. Yes, the Minimalists Joshua and Ryan chose a very clutter-free existence and home, but I don’t believe they are preaching unsentimentality. Keep your photos and that special vase you got for your wedding and the pot plants, and the kids toys. Like you say, Polly, it’s about holding on to meaning instead of excess for the sake of it – if you have and buy things because you want to look a part, be like a magazine, or feel legitimate yet you’re not happy then maybe it’s time to try to get rid of whatever traps you, and keep what doesn’t.

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