Because Minimalism is not the same as Simplicity
Minimalism can be a more simple lifestyle choice, but a minimalist who is not careful can actually make life overly complicated. Here’s what I mean… Let’s say there’s a minimalist named Jessica, whose life is about to become very unsimplified.
Jessica decides to reduce her possessions to under 100 items
Although there are no official rules that any minimalist must reduce their possessions to any standard number, she feels there must be some validity to this method as it seems more scientific, or mathematic, or numerologic… is that even a word?!… no. At any rate, she thinks that if she can reach this benchmark of minimalism, she will feel that she has definitively gained control over her possessions, and made major headway into becoming a verified minimalist.
The process of culling her lifetime collection of possessions will involve plenty of soul searching into her values, priorities and life plans, list making, piling, sorting, and some tough decisions. So far, this process is part of becoming a minimalist for anyone. However, her mission will also involve a lot of counting, and resorting, and recounting and more pile making…
The real confusion will begin if she tries to count her stuff according to many of the examples on the internet. She will be faced with the perplexing dilemmas of; Are a pair of socks to be counted as one item or two? Are socks and underwear to be considered “disposable”, like toothpaste or soap, and so not counted at all? Perhaps she will choose not to wear socks or underwear. Maybe shoes should go too. If she tosses all of her physical books, photos, and important documents to go completely digital, can she really rely on the digital versions to be around 20 or 30 years from now?
By some miracle, she manages to whittle down her stuff to 100 items, although it’s still unclear why pens are counted as one item, but an entire box of wrenches and set of screwdrivers was only counted as one item… anyway… moving onto the next potential complication…
Jessica Decides to Downsize to an Extremely Tiny Home
She has loved the idea of tiny homes since she first discovered them several years ago. (me too, I get you Jess) However, Jessica lives with her significant other, as well as 3 kids, 2 cats and 1 dog. She is determined to live a simple minimalist life, and sets out on a mission to pare down the non-essentials in her household. All of the people and pets are non-negotiable family members, so losing a few kids and pets is not an option. Each life form in her family unit must be contained in a smaller setting.
Once the family moves into their 300 square foot (28 square meter) tiny home, they realize that although things are a lot more compact, they are not any more simple. In fact, almost everything has become exponentially more complicated. Because the space is so small, even though each of them have reduced their possessions, getting any object out of it’s resting place may require first moving three other things out of the way first. Her plan to be minimalist and enjoy the simple life is not going the way she imagined!
She realizes that the more life forms that live in a tiny space, the more everyone must cooperate. Not everyone in her family wants to be a minimalist or live simply and rebels when it comes to reducing their possessions or putting things away. It is far more necessary to keep things tidy in a small space because it will appear messy with far fewer items out of place. Finally, far less privacy is available in a tiny home.
Jess Realizes that Having no Bed is Hurting her Back
Sometimes people go a bit overboard. If sleeping on the hardwood floor is hurting her back, and having no shoes has negatively effected her life, it may be worth it to add a bed and some shoes back into her life, even if that means owning a few more things. It’s about finding what adds value to her life, as opposed to what is distracting her from living the life she really wants. So you can see how minimalism and simplicity are completely different things that don’t necessarily go together.
Reducing our possessions can make it super simple to do house cleaning and find what we need when we need it. But, if you discover, like Jess that on your path to becoming a minimalist, you are creating unnecessary complications in your life, then it’s time to reassess the way you’re going about it. Minimalism can be part of a simpler life, but only by carefully designing it that way.