How does ‘simple’ differ from ‘minimalist’?
That’s the question someone asked me on Twitter recently, and it’s a good one.
Zen Habits has become known as a leading simplicity blog, and at the same time I recently started mnmlist, a blog about minimalism.
Why the two blogs? What’s the difference? It’s an important question as it forces us to examine each concept a little more closely.
First, let’s acknowledge that the two concepts are related, and in some ways are two ways of saying the same thing. When you simplify your life, you’re cutting back on the complexity of what you do and what you own. Minimalism is about the same things.
Each concept is really a striking back against the growing complexity of the modern world, against consumerism, against the mindset that we need to buy to solve our problems, that we need more and bigger. Against the idea that busier is better and that we must always be connected.
So how is minimalism different? It’s basically an extension of simplicity — not only do you take things from complex to simple, but you try to get rid of anything that’s unnecessary. All but the essential.
Minimalism says that what’s unnecessary is a luxury, and a waste. Why be wasteful when the unnecessary isn’t needed for happiness? When it just gets in the way of happiness, of peace? By eliminating the unnecessary, we make room for the essential, and give ourselves more breathing space.
Now, exactly what is essential will vary from person to person. So someone might look at my essential things and say “That’s too much — it’s not minimal!” But they’d be wrong — because essential is subjective.
How to do minimalism
There’s no one right way.
I talk more about my recommendations in my ebook, The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life. You can also read weekly (or so) articles at my other blog, mnmlist.
Some recent articles at mnmlist you might find useful:
- How to do minimalism in steps
- 12 minimalist ways to reduce your carbon footprint
- Minimalist eating
- A minimalist approach to books
- Why reading faster doesn’t increase productivity
- Learn to love less
- Simplicity is the path, not just the destination
- The sweet science of less mail
- The beauty of small
- The lust for new things
- 7 Ways to Avoid Buying New Stuff
- On owning nothing