I first heard of minimalism because of some documentary on YouTube. I think it was from “The Minimalists” although I'm not quite sure.
Minimalism online really is a rabbit hole. You can quickly end up spending a whole night discovering different minimalists online, each giving some insight on how they execute their minimalism. Some are more “extremist” than others, but they do have one thing in common: The definition of minimalism is vague enough so everyone could potentially define it for themselves, and still everyone can agree on each others definition.
Sounds vague? Let me try to explain. Minimalism in one sentence, for me is
the idea that material things are not a measurement of value in ones life.
A bit longer explanation would be that the concept of filling ones life with material things, also sometimes deprecatingly called “stuff”, does not improve your life at all. Some material things do provide value, but only for a short amount of time. And people tend to replace the emptiness that expands after that value runs out with more material things, ending up in a loop of buying things to get value in life.
I one manages to see through that loop and manages to actually break it, real value in life can be established by owning only things that matter.
Finding more definitions, examples, opinions and so on online is left as value to the reader. There's a lot. Don't get caught up in a night of research, you've been warned!
I started not only thinking about how these concepts but actually trying to implement them in my life a few weeks, maybe a few months now. I started really slowly by opening one cupboard/wardrobe a week and going through things. Every time I found something where I reacted like “Ah, I didn't remember I have this”, I put the thing into a dedicated “give-away-box”. After the box was full, I put things online to give them away.
I gave a handful of clothes to friends and family already and I am giving away more things slowly. Not at a very fast pace, but still noticeable.
I really love how my life changes for the better right now, I feel the improvement every single time I get rid (selling or giving away for free, not trashing of course) of something that I do not need. And by “improvement” I mean not that my life, objectively, improves. But every time I give something away I feel, for a few days, lighter. It might seem strange, but that's what I feel.
And albeit my progress is rather slow and small, it is noticeable for me. If you would come to my home and you'd know me, you'd not see any difference (yet?), though!
One thing that concerns me with the topic of minimalism, is that if you try to get some information about the community and individual minimalists online, you quickly end up irritated because all the minimalists out there are like “I have one bag full of things, nothing more” or something like that.
The impression that minimalism is only minimalism if executed extremely is a false feeling and I hope I can save myself from that. I am clearly threatened by it!
I don't know whether this impression is only a result of “American minimalism”, which is clearly the majority you'd find online. For example, I can not think of a way where a person from Europe can only have 100 things. At least my documents (bank account documents, tax documents, insurance stuff and other things you have to have in Europe) would qualify as 100 things, if not more. I'm not sure how the “extremist minimalists” do this, or whether one even needs these things printed out in america.
Either way, I hope that some day I might be able to pack all my belongings (or almost all, I really don't want to give away my 32 inch screen or my 7.1 sound system!) into a camper and just tour Europe as a digital nomad. The idea of minimalism combined with digital nomadism (is that a word?) is really interesting to me, although I'd like to have a “home-base” where I can come back to and stay for several weeks or even months – sometimes one just needs to cuddle into the same bed every night for several consecutive nights!
What I really don't want, though, is dropping out. Neither from society nor from my work/industry. My approach towards minimalism is only of philosophical nature – not needing things to define my living standard.