Intentional Living,  Minimalism,  Productivity

19 Things You Have Wrong About Minimalist Living

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We all have an idea in our heads about what it means to be a minimalist.

We immediately envision empty rooms, a wardrobe consisting of only 33 pieces of clothing, and a single, abstract painting adorning an otherwise empty white wall.

While some may find it beautiful, is it really all that practical in the world we live in?

Is it even possible if you’re not young, single, and financially stable?

We’re going to look at some things that you have wrong about minimalist living and why it matters.

Fair warning, I’m about to use the word “minimalism” an unbelievable amount of times, so buckle up.

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Minimalists can’t own anything (or much)

Let’s address the elephant in the room, here. The biggest misconception about minimalism is found in the very wording of the statement above.

Minimalists can’t.

Minimalism is not about deprivation or following an arbitrary set of rules.

There is no one watching over your shoulder to ensure that you only live with 100 items in your home.

Minimalism in its’ truest form is the intentional selection of what you want in your life.

Minimalism in its' truest form is the intentional selection of what you want in your life. Click To Tweet

It is the result of making the choice about what kind of life you want to live, and pursuing it.

Nothing about minimalism falls into the category of “can’t.” Minimalism is choosing what you’ll say “yes” to and getting rid of the rest.

Let’s unpack this thought just a little bit more.

Minimalists can’t own a TV, books, or more than 2 pairs of shoes

So many people get hung up on the idea that they’ll have to get rid of all of their beloved books and “extras,” such as their TV, hobbies, or collections.

Again, minimalism isn’t as much about restriction as it is the decision to keep only what serves a purpose or brings you joy.

You get a sense of hygge from your reading nook? Good. Keep your books.

Just be intentional about which books you keep.

Minimalists aren’t sentimental

I can see how minimalists get this reputation, but it’s a little unfounded.

Just as some choose to keep every scrap of paper from every event they’ve ever attended, minimalists choose to keep their memories and sentimental moments a little differently.

Many minimalists choose to digitally archive their sentimental belongings because they understand that the item itself is not what’s special. The people and memories connected to that item are what are truly valuable.

By digitally archiving your sentimental items, you’re able to keep them forever without them taking up any physical space within your home. You can even set them as a screen saver for your computer if you want to see them often.

Still can’t bear to part with something? Try figuring out a way to display that special item or set of items in a way that you can enjoy them daily.

The point is not to throw everything away.

The point is to be intentional about these items.

If you stuff that beloved handmade quilt you received from your grandmother into a box shoved into the back corner of your attic… was it really that special in the first place?

Don’t let these “special” items decay in the forgotten boxes of attics, basements, and garages.

Do something with them or let them go.

Minimalists can’t own anything “nice”

I love this one. My husband and I recently got new laptops and I’ve really been talking about this “minimalism thing” lately.

He came up to me and said, “I was thinking about all this minimalism stuff and was trying to figure out how buying new laptops fits in with it. Then I realized, it’s not about not being able to buy nice things. It’s about not buying just to buy.

You see, minimalists can still shop (and they do), but because they aren’t wasting money on a ton of junk they don’t need or even really want, they are often able to buy better quality stuff that lasts longer.

Minimalists can only own 100 items

This idea comes from The 100 Thing Challenge by Dave Bruno.

It’s a great way to take stock of the items you own and downsize, but it’s not necessary to become a minimalist.

Some minimalists count their possessions, but it’s not a requirement to be considered a “minimalist.”

If you’re interested in checking out Dave’s book, you can find it on Amazon HERE.

Minimalists wear the same thing every day

There’s a good reason that people like Steve Jobs wear the same outfit every day.

When you have a preset wardrobe, you get to bypass a bit of the decision fatigue that comes with making decisions over and over again throughout the day.

But is it necessary to be a minimalist? Do I have to give up my love of fashion?

Absolutely not.

If wearing the same thing every day is your cup of tea, great. Go for it.

But for many of us, we like to have some variety in our clothing.

Try creating a capsule wardrobe to help minimize decision fatigue while still wearing clothes that make you feel amazing.

Minimalists live in cold, white, empty tiny homes

Look, minimalism is what you make it.

If you choose to live cold, white, and tiny, more power to you, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

You can still surround yourself with the things that bring you joy.

Avid collector of vintage plates? Awesome! Display those beauties!

Prefer to live in a home with walls painted purple? Go for it.

Minimalists are lazy

I’m sure some people are minimalists because they’re lazy, but not all minimalists are lazy.

In fact, it takes a lot of intentionality and mindfulness to live as a minimalist.

You are making conscious decisions daily about the items, people, obligations, and values that you will allow to dwell within your life.

That takes a lot of thought and effort to stick to your guns.

Minimalism is a lifestyle that requires thoughtfulness, mindfulness, and self-discipline, which means it’s not for those who are too lazy to be intentional about their daily decisions.

Minimalists think they’re better than everyone else

Again, I’m sure some do, but for the most part minimalists are just regular people who are intentionally trying to create a better life for themselves.

There’s nothing wrong with creating a better life for yourself.

It doesn’t mean you earn the right to look down on others who aren’t living the same way as you.

The reverse of this is true as well… just because you aren’t a minimalist doesn’t mean you’re better than those who are pursuing minimalism.

You do you. We’re all in this mess together.

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Minimalism is boring

Well, I guess this one is more about your perspective on life than anything else.

If you believe that being mindful and intentional is boring, then yes, minimalism is boring.

But again, minimalism is what you make it, and most minimalists lead an interesting life based more on experiences than possessions.

When you free up your finances, time, and energy from the unnecessary, it opens up a world of opportunity to do and try new things that wouldn’t have been possible before.

Related: How to Say No and Why You Should

Minimalists don’t have kids / family / a spouse

It may technically be easier to be a minimalist if you’re single, but there are so many minimalist families!

Meet Leo Babauta.

He’s a minimalists.

And he has six kids.

You read that right. Six.

He’s also the creator of ZenHabits.net.

If he can live as a minimalist with 6 kids and a spouse in tow, anyone can.

You may not be able to get them on board overnight, but if you live by example and keep the conversation open, you may just end up with a minimalist family, too.

Minimalists have extreme views (environmentalists, anti-vax, vegan, etc.)

First of all, if you hold any of the views just mentioned please understand I’m not targeting you in this section. I’m simply using these beliefs as examples that are not held by the majority.

Since minimalists come from all types of backgrounds and beliefs, there are a lot of minimalists who hold extreme views.

And that’s okay.

Becoming a minimalist doesn’t commit you to these beliefs.

You keep doing you and believing what you believe.

It’ll be okay.

Minimalists are young

Yet again, there are a lot of young, millennial minimalists since minimalism started becoming a hot topic in the 60’s and has continued gaining momentum since.

Minimalism isn’t a new idea. It’s been around for ages.

But with the increase of social media in our lives, we’re bombarded with new ideas, images, and lifestyles daily.

There’s definitely something magical about the idea of minimalism that appeals to younger people who are sick of the idea of consumerism.

We see our parents’ homes filled to the brim with possessions and wonder why they can’t just let some of it go.

We want to live differently. So we do.

There’s definitely a pull for millennials to become minimalists, but there are plenty who have pursued minimalism later in life.

It’s not about age, it’s about mindset.

And mindset is something that can, and should, be improved no matter your age.

Minimalists live by a set of rules – they don’t have a say in what they get to keep

No one gets to make the call about what you keep and what you don’t.

There are plenty of guidelines and suggestions, but ultimately you’re the only one that can really decide what stays and what goes.

You always get to have a say.

This has been my husband’s biggest hang up in our family’s pursuit of minimalism. He’s been afraid that he won’t get to have a say in the items that are let go.

Once he realized that he is, in fact, in control of his belongings, he’s been more open to the idea of minimalism and letting go of his unnecessary possessions.

Any rules that minimalist live by are self-imposed.

Minimalism is a one-and-done kind of thing

Becoming a minimalist doesn’t just happen over a weekend. It’s a lifestyle change.

Sure, you can declutter your home in a weekend of seriously intentional decluttering work, but minimalism is about maintaining that lifestyle.

Just as eating one salad doesn’t make you a health and fitness expert, taking a day to clear out your junk drawer doesn’t make you a minimalist.

But it’s a step in the right direction, so keep going.

Minimalism is just about the things you own

Initially, minimalism focuses primarily on the possessions you own, but as you dive deeper into this new lifestyle you’ll begin to crave that simplicity in other areas of your life as well.

Intentionality and mindfulness extend to every area of your life, including relationships, obligations, values, beliefs, diet, health, hobbies, and time.

You don’t need to change everything overnight. It’s a process. Let it come as it will.

Minimalism deprives your kids

On the contrary.

Minimalism teaches your children a set of values.

It teaches them the importance of thoughtfulness, consideration, and contentedness.

In fact, studies have shown that having fewer toys to choose from actually decreases your child’s stress levels and increases their imagination.

Related: The Magic of Toy Minimalism

Minimalists can’t give or receive gifts.

Sure they can.

They just don’t want to give or receive a ton of junk.

Does that mean you can’t give a minimalist a gift? Not at all.

There are tons of experience gifts that a minimalist would love, such as tickets to a sporting event or a show.

And to make things even easier for you, I’ve compiled the Ultimate List of Experience Gifts for Kids Under 4 for all the little munchkins in your life.

Simple Quiet Mama's Ultimate List of Experience Gifts for Kids Under 4

Minimalism isn’t practical.

It’s not practical because you don’t have entire rooms full of “just in case” items and nostalgic guilt items weighing you down.

It’s not practical because you need to spend a lot of money on stuff you don’t really want or need and will forget about in a few weeks.

Oh wait.

Financial freedom from wasting your money on consumerism is practical.

Keeping only the items that you use and need or that bring you joy is practical.

Unburdening yourself from decades worth of “nostalgic” items that bring you guilt and anxiety is practical.

Change your perspective. Change your life.

So Many Misconceptions

I’m sure there are even more misconceptions about minimalist living out there, but these are the ones I’ve encountered the most.

To sum it all up, you’re in charge of your life.

If you decide to pursue minimalism, you can make it your own.

You don’t give up anything about yourself unless you intentionally choose to do so.

Do you, and do you intentionally.

For More About Minimalist Living Ideas and Inspiration, Follow My Pinterest Board: Minimalist Living

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There are a lot of misconceptions about minimalist living. Discover what you have wrong about minimalist living and get the truth. #minimalism #minimalistliving #misconceptions

What other misconceptions about minimalist living have you encountered?

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