What is Minimalism?

The Buddha was the first minimalist. He said:

Those who mistake the unessential to be essential and the essential to be unessential, dwelling in wrong thoughts, never arrive at the essential. Those who know the essential to be essential and the unessential to be unessential, dwelling in right thoughts, do arrive at the essential (Dhp 11-12 Buddharakkhita).

You will find this thought echoed in many modern definitions of minimalism. Let's look at a few of these.

Joshua Becker defines minimalism as:

the intentional promotion of things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from them. 

Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus define write:

Minimalism is a tool to eliminate life's excess, focus on the essentials, and find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.

Fumio Sasaki writes:

Minimalism is a lifestyle in which you reduce your possessions to the absolute minimum you need.

Dominique Loreau uses simplicity and minimalism interchangeably. He writes:

Simplicity means possessing little, clearing the way for the bare necessities, the quintessence of things.

Minimalism is a spiritual discipline of reducing your possessions to a minimum. It was also called voluntary simplicity. But the result is simple living, which is more than a practice, it is a mindset and way of life.

It is important to remember that minimalism is a tool, it is not the goal. That is why I suggest that you don't become a minimalist. Minimalism is a great tool but a poor identity. Becoming identified with a tool will result in you being measured by the tool. 

You will often hear that so and so isn't a minimalist because they own such and such. Minimalism isn't about what you own, it is about knowing "the essential to be essential and the unessential to be unessential," and eliminating the unessential. This is unique to each person, circumstance, and purpose in life. One size does not fit all.

Jay Forrest Blog