Minimalism: Are You Practicing A Fad Or A Lifestyle?

Minimalism sure has been all the buzz the last few years. But is it just a fad? It might be. If you get rid of all your stuff in a short period of time, chances are you’ve just fallen for a fad. But if you’ve made a point to live simply for years, you’ve developed a lifestyle.

Fad or lifestyle: Photo of fidget spinner.

Last year, my daughter wanted a fidget spinner. They were all the rage. You probably still see them around. But how many kids will be playing with fidget spinners in five years?

If It Starts Overnight, It’s Likely A Fad

Do you remember pet rocks? How about pop rocks? Break dancing? Hacky sack? Or dozens of other fads? Fads seem to sweep the nation quickly. Everybody wants to buy the new gizmo, wear the new jacket, or do the new dance. But a fad is short-lived.

Sure, some people still break dance. You can still buy pop rocks. And a few people still play with Rubik’s Cubes. Heck, they even brought back the Smurfs in a movie a few years ago. But a fad doesn’t stay strong. It loses momentum and becomes a has-been.

Is Minimalism Just A Fad?

I’ve always been hesitant to call myself a minimalist for a couple of reasons:

  1. I’m not extreme: I’m practical. I try to live simple, but I still live fairly comfortable. And I’ve lived this way my entire life.
  2. I see minimalism as bit of a crash diet: Remember the Atkins diet? I used to know several people who tried it. Not anymore. Can you say fad?

So how do you approach simple living? I think the way we start living simply says a lot about how long we might continue to live simply.

I’ve noticed that new minimalists put a lot of emphasis on getting rid of stuff. It almost seems like a contest: Whoever can get rid of the most stuff and live in an empty house first… wins.

Letting things go is certainly part of living a simple lifestyle. But we all know what happens after people try a crash diet. They binge. So odds are fair that you’ll binge after getting rid of all your stuff. You’ll get hungry. You’ll break down and buy more stuff. And you’ve just been victim to a fad.

Simple Living Doesn’t Have To Be A Fad

The best way to change your lifestyle is with slow and intentional steps. If you rush into things, you really haven’t thought things through. You’ve reacted emotionally. Your changes are less likely to stick.

Here are a few ways to make sure you don’t fall for a fad:

  1. Study the lifestyle: Take some time to read books, blogs, and watch programs about minimalism and simple living.
  2. Seek out others: Talk to people who have made simple living into a lifelong practice.
  3. Make a plan: Write down your goals to accomplish in timed increments. Don’t just haul all your stuff away. Carefully consider what you need before you give it away.
  4. Follow through: Take specific steps to slowly simplify your life. Let go of unneeded things. Learn to simplify your budget and your schedule.
  5. Always be ready for another step: Simple living is a life-long endeavor. Be thoughtful and observant of ways you might simplify more.  

My Final Analysis

I don’t think I’d call minimalism a fad. It’s been around for years. Before it was called minimalism it was just plain, simple living. But it could be a fad for you if you jump into it too fast. 

Don’t fall for minimalist gimmicks. It’s ok to let stuff go, but it’s not a contest. Too much, too fast could backfire. Just use some common sense and live within your means, and without more than you really need. 

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  1. Throughout our married life, my husband and I have always lived simply…It was the message blaring loud and clear in the mid seventies. We chose that path and stuck to it. My parent’s generation, though, had left that behind in the wake of post WWII boom…Life was going to be bigger, better, affluent, healthy (read that as pharmaceuticals readily at hand), etc.etc….We all know where THAT led. Ah, yes, history repeats itself and now there are minimalists anew. It is the ebb and flow of history. We all make our stand and hope it is on a firm foundation when the rain and floods of life come.

    1. Let’s hope that the idea of simple living catches on in a greater way as we all move forward. I’m not sure our world can sustain our current level of human consumption forever.

  2. Great post! I do see a lot of people reading my blog (usually friends and family) and they’re just flippantly like, “I need to get rid of stuff too”. And I’m thinking in my head… “this isn’t just about getting rid of stuff…”.

    Anything that “solve problems” can be labeled as a fad. But it just depends on your approach to all of it, like you mentioned above. But no matter how much we slowly integrate it into our lives, it can still fizzle out.

    Only time will tell if minimalism ends up being a fad for any given person!

    1. I think each individual has to discover their own level of minimalism through practice. Practice, of course, is something we repeat regularly.

  3. Enjoyed this piece. I find that a solid mindfulness and meditation practice is very helpful in my minimalist lifestyle because it helps me note my cravings and wants as they arise; and instead of acting on the craving, I just watch it pass like a cloud in the sky.

    I’ve been on this path for over eight years now starting the morning after my dad died.

    1. My dad also died about eight years ago. I started writing and blogging right after he died. He always lived simply and that inspires me still. I don’t meditate regularly, but find walking very meditative. It sounds like you’re on a great track.

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