October 8, 2019
Minimalism. At first mention, the word sounds fairly straightforward. I mean, it’s all about owning very few things and living a boring life, right? For a long time I sold this description as the only definition of what it means to participate in this social phenomena called minimalism. However, over this past summer I went through several life changes that made me put how I was living my daily life in perspective. Various thoughts such as What really matters to me? What do I find value in? Is my growth apparent to not just myself, but to others? swirled in my mind. These hypotheticals puzzled me and spurred me into more self-discovery. It was through this acknowledgment that I took a deeper dive into minimalism. Though I am nowhere near close enough to calling myself a minimalist, this journey of finding the true values in my life has been interesting to say the least.
The fascinating thing that I found in regard to the definition of minimalism is that there isn’t a fully set description of what it is. What is agreed upon, though, is what it’s not. Many of the experts’ opinions on this concept is that minimalism isn’t getting rid of all your possessions and living sparingly. Minimalism isn’t living like a monk and being boring. Colin Wright, author and full-time traveler, expounds upon this by saying “just giving away a bunch of things doesn’t make you a Minimalist any more than buying a statue of Buddha makes you a Buddhist or doing yoga makes you healthy.”1 These misconceptions are where I, and the majority of people, get stuck and stay thinking of these perceptions on minimalism. Why would someone want to get rid of nice things they own? To me, it just seemed as if it were an attention grab to let people know minimalists think of themselves more highly than others. While this is true in some cases, genuine minimalists don’t act in condescending ways at all. In fact, some of the most humble people that I personally know have employed a more minimalistic lifestyle.
To further preface my journey of discovery, I always like to look back at a friend I have that has been on my same dorm hall the past two years. I remember walking into his room for the first time and looking at his side of the room; it’s almost completely barren with a plain bed, no wall decorations, and a simple desk set up. I would also like to throw in that he uses a phone where you slide up to open the keyboard (you guys know the kind of phone I’m talking about). After seeing what little he had, I began to further observe his behavior and habits. This guy is genuinely one of the nicest and down to earth guys I know, always down to have intentional conversations, super into fitness and health, and overall just a great dude. It continues to amaze me how he conducts his life in such a humble manner and I believe it directly correlates to what he finds value in. Although he never mentioned being a minimalist, I find it extremely evident that he lives a minimalistic lifestyle. With all of this on my mind, I sought after what minimalism means to me.
Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, authors and entertainers that bring awareness to minimalism, describe this way of life as “a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from overwhelm. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from depression. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom.”2 The concept of freedom, of liberation, is something that is human nature to search for. I find this intriguing because getting rid of things just to clear up space doesn’t mean you’re a minimalist. When you free yourself from the possession that your very own possessions have on you, breakthrough happens. This doesn’t just stop at material possessions either, but in other things we tend to give too much meaning to such as relationships or jobs. It is also important to know not to just abandon these things; rather, you have to realign your priorities to focus on healthy self-empowerment that produces lasting happiness – joy. Leo Babuata, writer of the blog Zen Habits, describes minimalism as “a way to escape the excesses of the world around us — the excesses of consumerism, material possessions, clutter, having too much to do, too much debt, too many distractions, too much noise. But too little meaning.”3
Now that I have a better understanding on minimalism, I recognize the vast opportunity I have to implement this lifestyle into my daily routine. Although I do love the clothes and cool technology I own, I am starting to let go of the high value I have on these things. I’m learning to live in the moment and focus on creating more while consuming less. Minimalism to me is genuinely appreciating all the blessings I have in my life. I have a long way to go, but I encourage you all to join me in this – let’s pursue the amazing life we’ve been blessed with together!
1 “Minimalism Explained.” Exile Lifestyle, 15 Sept. 2010,
2 Nicodemus, Ryan. “What Is Minimalism?” The Minimalists,
The Minimalists, 24 June 2019,
3 “Mnmlist: Minimalist FAQs.” Mnmlist RSS,
Written by: Alex Quan
Alex is a Junior Business Communications Major and enjoys writing for the blog because of the opportunity to express his thoughts and interests through the medium of a blog! It’s a healthy way to share his opinions with others and hopefully start a dialogue with them.