The Quote That Finally Changed My Mind on Minimalism

I’ve always had sort of a personal gripe with the minimalist movement. It’s a complicated cluster of feelings, but I can boil down my difficulty with minimalism into three words: I like stuff.

I like having just the right glass for every drink (many of them thrifted and handed down through generations). I like collecting trinkets that remind me of people I’ve known, places I’ve been and things I’ve done. I believe the key to decorating a beautiful room isn’t white walls, it’s layering. And then layering over everything again, even when you think you’re through. More art, more plants, more pillows. More.

You can see how, with this sort of more-is-more philosophy of living, I had always had a hard time finding myself in the minimalist movement of the moment. I am not going to be the girl figuring out which of her two drinking glasses spark the most joy, then thanking the rest of my collection for their service on their way out to the donation center. So I accepted that the minimalist movement wasn’t meant for me, and kept on living (and collecting).

Then one day, I found a quote about minimalism (or rather, I like to think the quote found me) by Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist:

“Desiring less is even more valuable than owning less.”

My understanding of Joshua’s intention here is that there’s more to minimalism than just purging yourself of stuff (although that is certainly a big part of it, from his perspective). You have to first purge your stuff and then reach some higher plane of minimalistic being, where you’re rid of both stuff and also the crushing urge to restock your now-empty shelves with all new things. Step one: Less stuff. Step 2: Less Shopping.

But what if we sort of skipped step one? What if you could want less, because you already have enough? These questions were something like the thoughts that first crossed my mind when I read Joshua’s quote, and it was in that moment that I began to see myself as (maybe, potentially, one day) some version of a minimalist.

You see, I’m always going to like having stuff. But at some point… it is enough for me. I have the right glass for every drink I like to make for myself and my friends whenever they come over. And now I’m done with that collection. I have all that I need to support this area of my lifestyle (one that sparks more joy than any empty shelf ever has), and want for nothing more. In some ways—to my mind, if nobody else’s—I’ve reached my version of glassware-cabinet minimalism. I can look at my collection of things and say, “This is enough.”

I realize this is nothing like the bare, “real” minimalism we’ve come to know lately, but it’s the minimalism that works for me. Maybe for you, too.



One thought on “The Quote That Finally Changed My Mind on Minimalism

  1. I saw a TED talk in which the speaker said that minimalism was about freedom, i.e. making room for the things we really want to do (and have) the most in our lives. That made the most sense to me, and also means that you can’t truly call yourself a “minimalist” if you are only doing it because it is trendy and not because you really want to.

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