Many people who have read my blog or who have heard my thoughts would describe me as a minimalist. While I don’t have a problem with that, I’ve chosen to focus on simplicity, not minimalism. Here’s why.

3 reasons I focus on simplicity, not minimalism

Qualifications

First and foremost, I have too much stuff to qualify as a minimalist. While I know there isn’t an exact number that defines minimalism and a broad spectrum of people call themselves minimalists, I don’t meet the (imaginary) qualifications even on the far end of the spectrum.

We have too many collections in this house to be a minimalist by anyone’s standards. My daughter has a rock collection. And my other daughter has a stuffed animal collection and ‘art’ collection. My husband has a book, paper, and tool collection. And I have my soap collection.

We also stock a large amount of shelf-stable food and paper supplies. I like buying things in bulk and on sale. I’m also a huge fan of toss pillows and candles and own many of them. We have an impressive supply of teas.

I feel like I’m writing confessions even as I say these things, which again confirms for me that I’m not a minimalist. Or if I was one, I’d at least be a rebel.

Definitions

Some may say the difference between simplicity and minimalism is semantics. That’s probably fairly accurate. The words we choose matters though. So let’s look at the definitions of these words.

Simplicitythe state of being simple, uncomplicated, or uncompounded

Minimalism: a style or technique that is characterized by extreme spareness and simplicity

Spectrum

I’ve been challenged in the way I view minimalism as I’ve seen quite a variety of people that call themselves minimalists. I don’t see minimalism as a cookie-cutter description. People aren’t defined by the total number of objects they own.

On the one end of the spectrum, you will find people who know the number of their possessions and can fit them all into a suitcase. Other minimalists choose to live in tiny houses.

More moderate minimalists aren’t as extreme with their lifestyle. However, by definition, minimalism is characterized by extreme spareness or simplicity. There are varying ideas on what extreme looks like. It all depends on who or what you’re comparing it to.

With minimalism, I think of trying to own as little as possible. The focus is on the necessities with the goal of not having too much beyond that. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that goal at all. It just isn’t my goal.

Goals

My goal currently is to live more simply focusing on what I use and love. I’m all for practicality and for owning less. My goal isn’t to be extreme though.

While I deeply admire many minimalists, my focus is on simplicity, not minimalism. I can’t say that my goals won’t ever change, but this is where I’m at right now.

I focus on simplicity, not minimalism because it feels more attainable. It’s less intimidating. Work on having less and being more mindful? Yes, I can do that. Work to try to narrow down to just the necessities? That feels daunting and a little bit sad. Call me materialistic if you must. I do like some things.

You can join in the pursuit of simplicity without minimalism being your end goal.

I find joy in my toss pillows, candles, teas, excess paper products, and overstock of food. And I’m ok with that.

Every person gets to chart their own course and decide how much is too much. We all have different comfort levels with stuff. We get to decide on our goals and choose the journey that works for us.

frugal decluttering

Frugality

The Minimalists (and others in this space) have mentioned the 20/20 rule. It’s where ‘anything we get rid of that we truly need, we can replace for less than $20 in less than 20 minutes from our current location’.

I understand the rule is designed to help you let go of inexpensive items you’ve been hanging onto for someday.

While I agree with weighing the odds on whether or not you’ll ever want or use those items, I’m also not comfortable with the idea of getting rid of low-cost items just to have to replace them. I don’t want to have to keep buying things to replace items I decluttered in an effort to be a minimalist.

I’m a fan of getting deals even when that means I’m buying certain items that I know I won’t use immediately. This feels very un-minimalist, but it is very frugal.

In my estimation, it’s only a problem if your storage is taking over your home or you’re buying things you won’t actually use. I’m frugal to the core, but have worked on balancing it with simplicity.

A shared philosophy

My journey towards simplicity began in response to being overwhelmed with too much stuff. My focus was on decluttering and simplifying in an effort to live a more intentional life focused on the things that matter most.

I wasn’t extreme in my process. I didn’t immediately get rid of over half of my belongings. My journey working towards less started with smaller decluttering tasks and behavior changes. I’ve become more mindful of my purchases. I’ve minimized the amount of random junk that makes its way through the front door.

The goals of both simplicity and minimalism are to minimize distractions and live a more fulfilling life focused on the things that matter most. Both advocate for a less is more approach.

Treasured items get to shine when we take away the excess clutter. Simplicity and minimalism are both about being selective, purposeful, and intentional in what you purchase and bring into your home.

Whether you’re an extreme minimalist, cozy minimalist, aspiring minimalist or someone who chooses to focus on simplicity, not minimalism, you are welcome here.

There is room for all of us whether we choose to be extreme or not. You’ll find encouragement and support here on your journey to simplify your life.

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19 Comments

  1. Upon reading a chapter in your life I felt as though I was listening to you talk about me! I love pillows and soft things. I have a collection of little vintage dolls I inherited from Macy’s in an old white mirrored shadow box on the wall that takes the place of having a picture there. It’s so cool looking! Thank you for making this post because I do get called they M word, especially at Christmas time. We have a tree and two boxes of organized old vintage ornaments I inherited (again) lol. Also some old mini pointcetta garland and mini white bulbs, a wreath from Good Will for the door. Takes us 30minutes tops. I rather be eating dinner and making cookies with family and friends. I love being easy breezy, so again thank you for putting it into perspective. It really helps. Sincerely Sherri💗

  2. I really love what your saying about simplicity vs minimalism. I think I’m in the same place where I don’t think I quite fit the “minimalist” ideal but I’m very happy to keep things simple. I just started my own blog to help people who live in all sorts of spaces and situations to simplify and organize. So nice to find someone else with a balanced mindset on this topic.

  3. I agree with much you said here. However, I think you’ve painted a somewhat unfair picture of minimalism. I believe most minimalists would recommend reducing possessions only to the degree that brings more peace and contentment and that will be different for everyone. I do abhor the term “minimalist “ because it’s so negative! When I began this journey about 40 years ago, we called it simple living or simplicity. I still claim those terms. I love your perspective!

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