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Minimalist Lifestyle-The Counterculture of Simplicity by Choice

Updated on September 19, 2015
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Rain is a composer, digital artist, writer and homemaker. Fan of coffee and sunrises, in Fort Wayne, IN with husband Sage and two children.

Minimalist Lifestyle
Minimalist Lifestyle | Source

Article and images by Rain San Martin

What is a Minimalist Lifestyle?

Minimalists are people who subtract all from their lives, other that than which is necessary or cherished. This movement of simplicity spans the gamete of those who want to simplify their homes, to people who live in "tiny houses" or cars, to the most extreme where they have limited their possessions to 100 things.

Minimalism can be broken up into three main areas of peoples lives: wardrobe, household furnishings & other belongings, and activities. Leo Baubauta of Zen Habits and author of The Power of Less, is commonly referred to as the father of the modern minimalist movement. He overcame smoking, eating junk food, eliminated activities that no longer brought him value, a cluttered living space, a sedentary lifestyle, and the confines of a conventional job, all by establishing habits, and he did this with a family.

The Minimalist Lifestyle. Frankie Park, Fort Wayne, IN
The Minimalist Lifestyle. Frankie Park, Fort Wayne, IN | Source

What area of your life needs to be simplified the most?

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Minimalist Wardrobe

Courtney Carver of Be More With Less and Project 333, inspired a movement to restrict ones clothing choices to 33 items, every three months, or each season. For women this is a significant paradigm shift. Many females now feel they have permission and support to consciously pare down their elaborate wardrobes. Other similar movements include abstaining from buying anything new for 1 year, or more radically, making a social statement by wearing only one garment for 365 days.

Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist Is a Practical Minimalist

Make Your Home More Beautiful by Subtracting All But the Essential

When you have a bunch of knickknacks competing for your attention, the result is clutter. Better to display a few grouped pieces. This will give you a sense of space. Marla Cilley, the Flylady, says your home should never be a dumping ground for junk. She encourages people to take baby steps towards having a de-cluttered home, when building a haven.

The Happy Minimalist-Man Lives With Only Enough Possessions to Fit in His Car

Practical Minimalism For Families

Living simply without excessive toys, cluttered furniture or kitchen gadgets are part of what goes into making a minimalist home. Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist and author of Simplify, gives practical tips for minimizing the clutter of your home. It starts with the mindset of prioritizing the value of family, God, people, and service over possessions. In his story he shares that he found he was investing too much personal time re-organizing "stuff" in the garage, rather than spending time on the things that were of greater priority. This realization made him reconsider all they had acquired, yet doing so with mindfulness. This means he would not try to compete with others in the minimalist community, racing to have as few possessions as possible. If a gaming station was loved and used by his family, he would keep it. Practical minimalism in action.

The Backpack Movement-Extreme Minimalist Unconventional Lifestyle

Many have been inspired by the "100 Thing Challenge." For some, all of their belongings fit into a suitcase and backpack. Advocates of this extreme minimalist lifestyle claim it gives them a new freedom, where they can relocate at a whim, without being chained to a mortgage or rental space. The Bible has even made a reference to this lifestyle:

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Matthew 19:21)


In context, this is not to say possessions are evil, they can however at times be an obstacle in obtaining freedom, or doing the perfect will of God, as each are called into a unique purpose.

Voluntary Simplicity
Voluntary Simplicity | Source

Voluntary Simplicity Equals Freedom to Those Who Live It!

On the site Man Vs Debt, the motto is "Sell Your Crap… Pay Off Your Debt… Do What You Love!" as possessions aplenty often can weight us down, keeping us in unsatisfying jobs. Adam Baker founder of Man Vs Debt, produced the film, "I'm Fine Thanks" which illustrates that the "American dream" of owning a house, two cars, and a hot corporate job, do not necessarily equate fulfillment. As our time is given in exchange for the material goods we acquire. The new American dream for many is to spend less time in unfulfilling jobs, just to earn more money, and more time doing what we love, using our skills, yet living frugally.

The Roots Of a Simple Lifestyle

Quakers, the Amish, Gandhi, and Walden are all apart of the origins of simple living. In the classic literature work: Walden, by Henry David Thoreau, he writes about the folly of man for trapping himself in busy work activities with the chief goal of accumulating more possessions:

“Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumbnail.”

Never Practice Minimalism At the Expense of Your Marriage

Your spouse and family are infinitely more important than a mobile lifestyle or de-cluttered home. Never come to the conclusion that your family is expendable. If their clutter is a source of suffering in your life, kindly ask them if there is a way to pare down their possessions. There are many practical ways to implement this. Start by removing all of your unneeded items, then make a habit of requesting gift cards or clutter-free gifts. Aim to keep child's toys to a minimum and see if the salvation army will pick up items directly from your front porch.

The Classic Story of the Mexican Fisherman

This story has been reprinted by many minimalists as a classic parable, advocating a life of simplicity:

An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellow fin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, "only a little while."

The American then asked why didn't he stay out longer and catch more fish?

The Mexican said he had enough to support his family's immediate needs.

The American then asked, "but what do you do with the rest of your time?"

The Mexican fisherman said, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life."

The American scoffed, "I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise."

The Mexican fisherman asked, "But, how long will this all take?"

To which the American replied, "15-20 years."

"But what then?"

The American laughed and said that's the best part. "When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions."

"Millions.. Then what?"

The American said, "Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos."

Simple Living
Simple Living | Source

© 2013 Rain San Martin

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      Brooklyn4Ever 3 years ago

      You give the example of Jesus's teaching that one should give what they have to the poor in order to justify minimalism. But read on in the New Testament - you will see that Jesus speaks to his other followers and tells them that had the rich young man given money to the poor, Jesus would have given him 100 times over what he gave to them. See Matt 19:29, Mark 10:30, Luke 16. Therefore, the wealthy man would have been 100 times wealthier. Thus, it is likely that this does NOT justify life minimalism.

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      Rain San Martin 3 years ago from Fort Wayne

      I agree the church body should never quarrel over a disputable matter such as "simple living". This is a personal choice depending on the life the Christian has chosen to lead. Some Christians, such as myself, own many possessions and a home, yet keep the clutter at a minimum. Which is why I wrote: "In context, this is not to say possessions are evil, they can however at times be an obstacle in obtaining freedom, or doing the perfect will of God, as each are called into a unique purpose" (-missionary's for example)

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      Brooklyn4Ever 3 years ago

      Too bad more Christians do not accept those teachings Jesus gave.

      As for me, I'm from the poorer part of town and hope Santa will send me a wealthy wife for Christmas. Keep hope alive!

    • Availiasvision profile image

      Jennifer Arnett 3 years ago from California

      I love meeting other Minimalists! That story of the Mexican Fisherman is one of my favorites. The simple life is a happy one. I'm glad to see that the movement is catching on.

      In terms of a theology of minimalism, it's not a matter of what you have or don't have, but a matter of the heart. If you want to own less because you want to use your money towards godly pursuits, have more time available for others, or give your possessions to those who need them, then your heart is in the right place. If you think that righteousness is gained by owning 100 items, versus 114, then minimalism can turn into an idol.

      I think you did a great job of having a proper Christian view of minimalism.

      One thing I've had to be careful of, is the inclination in the minimalist community to out out everything that doesn't benefit you. For example, cut out people in your life who are leeches. However, sometimes loving other people is a sacrifice and offers no earthly benefits, nor should it.

      Keep the heart in the right place and minimalism is a fantastic way of living.

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      Rain San Martin 3 years ago from Fort Wayne

      I absolutely agree with you. We need to love people regardless of our simplicity lifestyle. Loving others comes first.

    • C.V.Rajan profile image

      Disillusioned 2 years ago from Kerala, India

      It is so nice to come across people in the west like you who vouch for minimalist life and simplicity.

      C.V.

    • rainsanmartin profile image
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      Rain San Martin 2 years ago from Fort Wayne

      C.V. Rajan, Simplicity and minimalist living truly is freedom. We minimalist's love to share the joy of this lifestyle too.

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