Chris Miller

Minimalism, Maybe

I got into Minimalism about a decade ago. I’d just been through a divorce and latched on to some of the key principles put forth at the time by The Minimalists: live a better life with less, love people use things because the opposite never work, make room for the things that matter. It was very inspiring, and really helped me with setting a new course for myself.

I got away from the core movement as it became popular, just after the Minimalism documentary came out. Marie Kondo really wasn’t my thing, and as the Minimalists became more popular the broader their purview became. This is not a criticism of them or any of the other minimalist evangelists for the time: when your message because popular, you change. For me, it all felt less personal, and as minimalism began to dovetail with financial planning and whole food health claims, I got off the bus. As I look at the messaging of 2023 on various minimalism sites, it reads more like a cult and less like a way to manage a busy and sometimes overwhelming life. That’s disappointing.

As the new year starts, I’m looking back at that original material to see if anything still speaks to me. My life and living space is much more chaotic than I’d like. When I slim down my clutter and clean my physical and mental space, my anxiety lessens. I think there is a place for the base philosophy, if not every offshoot the movement has adopted.

Here are the things I am trying to use from those old days:

  • Get rid of things if you don’t use them, unless you have a specific rare use case (just for when)
  • Question, really Question what it is that I Need from the Things in my life.
  • Donate things that someone else can use
  • Treat my space, physical and mental, with respect instead of just a place to drop/store/bury things.
  • Recognize that, in my case at least, my physical space is a mirror of my mental state, and that maintaining one will often help with the other.
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