Tuesday, December 29, 2009

simplicity vs. minimalism

In researching others' experiences in simplifying life, I've run across quite a few blags (yes, I know it's blogs but blags is much more fun to say) that advocate minimalism as the solution to all economical, social, political, relational and emotional problems. By ridding oneself of stuff & things & conquering the desire for more stuff & things, one can find everlasting peace, happiness & completeness of life since one is no longer controlled by their things and the want of more things.

While I agree with the concept of not letting things & the want of things control you, I think that equating a lack of possessions to Nirvana is hasty thinking and basically empty. Many of the blogs I've read are stories of people with huge paychecks, huge condos, huge numbers of possessions & huge amounts of credit card debt. Their conclusion that minimalism solves all ills is simply a knee-jerk reaction to the fact that they never found happiness with all their stuff. Either way, their happiness is still based on their stuff, whether having it or getting rid of it. Perhaps minimalism gives these individuals freedom from the want of things, but they still will never find the true happiness they seek since the root thought revolves around stuff.

Simplicity, on the other hand, is being able to live adequately within one's resources knowing that all our possessions do not truly belong to us at all; God owns everything. Simplicity recognizes that we do need certain items to live but none of these items will bring happiness. I had a breakthrough with this thought recently when my mind became set on acquiring a new dress for New Year's Eve because I just had to look AMAZING, even though I already have at least four dresses that could easily be worn. Fortunately, no dress I tried on at the store was the perfect fit at the perfect price. And then I realized that I was setting all my hopes for fun on the idea of a new dress instead of recognizing I'll be spending the evening enjoying the company of friends & that's what really matters. I will still hopefully look amazing wearing a dress I already own, so that's a good consolation too.

In some cases, pursuing simplicity does entail the minimalistic strategy of getting rid of stuff. For example, I need to go through my books, movies, clothes, kitchen, well everything, and decide, do I use/need this enough to pack it in a box, carry the box, lift it into a truck, drive it to grad school, carry the box again, and find a place to put it? I want moving to be uncomplicated, so getting rid of stuff might help.

In short:
  • Consumerism- your desire for stuff controls you
  • Minimalism- your desire for a lack of stuff controls you
  • Simplicity- knowing that the Someone Else who controls all the stuff should be allowed to "control" your desires

(and side rant, most of the minimalism blags advocate buying the Amazon Kindle to load all one's books on thus freeing yourself from the horrific clutches of paper literature. Very stupid idea financially. First you have to buy the Kindle for a couple hundred, then you have to rebuy all your books to load onto the Kindle for a couple more hundred & you might be able to get like $25 for all your real books at the Half Price Book Store. Why not just sell your books then go get a library card?)


  1. ohhhh! Good post. It helps define what I am trying to achieve in my home. Thanks! Looking forward to reading more posts from you!!

  2. I'd be interested to see some of the other blogs that you found MOST intriguing. You did the work...let me enjoy the spoils. :)