Minimalism Is An Art, Simple Is A Lifestyle

You know, I’ve just about had enough of people calling minimalism a lifestyle. It’s not. Minimalism is an art. Simple is a lifestyle.

Ah, a stereotypical minimalist photo: A MacBook Air on a sleek white desktop with a white background. Guess what? It’s unrealistic. It works as a minimalist image. But life is not an image. Life is motion.

I own a MacBook Air. I love the size and shape. But my desk is rarely perfectly neat. My MacBook is a tool and in regular use. It gets left among other household items, not on a perfectly neat desk. Life is rarely perfectly neat.

Minimalism Is An Art

When people tell me they’re becoming minimalists, I often ask what that means to them. Some will start listing things like:

  • Getting rid of my stuff.
  • Painting my walls white.
  • Buying furniture from Ikea.
  • Keeping three pieces of furniture. 
  • Having two sets of clothing. 

So you want to be a picture, do ya? The image many people have for minimalism is actually an aesthetic, not a lifestyle. They want their homes to look like the homes in the fancy minimalist-porn photos. I hate to break it to you, but those photos are staged.

I’ve got nothing against that look. I like it myself. It’s sleek and clean and linear. It’s minimalist. But it’s art, not a lifestyle. Nobody really lives like that. Well, maybe a few, but they might have obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Simple Is A Lifestyle

When I started Hip Diggs, I decided to make the tagline, Live Simple. I thought that an action statement worked much better than anything with the term minimalist or minimalism in the title. Simple is a lifestyle. Minimalism is an art.

My house doesn’t look like minimalist porn. But it’s simple. It’s not always perfectly neat, but it’s generally clean. And my MacBook Air never sits by itself on my white drafting table, unless I’m taking a minimalist photograph.

Simple encompasses a lot more than minimalist. You can keep your home simple. Relationships can be simple. Your schedule can be simple. You can keep your projects simple. It works across the board. On the other hand, how silly do these statements sound:

  • I keep a minimalist schedule.
  • We’re having a minimalist dinner tonight.
  • I’m growing a minimalist garden.
  • Let’s keep our relationship minimalist.

What is a minimalist relationship? These sentences sound funny don’t they? Maybe even a bit stuffy or elitist? Switch minimalist to simple and the statements all work much better.

  • I keep a simple schedule.
  • We’re having a simple dinner tonight.
  • I’m growing a simple garden.
  • Let’s keep our relationship simple.

You’ve Been Sold By A Single Word 

Simple living has been around as long as time itself. Minimalism was coined to sell you another product in disguise.

So you buy a hard copy of The Life-Chaging Magic Of Tidying Up just to add to your clutter?

Then you sign up for a minimalist newsletter, just to get more clutter in your inbox with the goal of selling you something.

You go out of your way to see a so-called minimalist speaking in person and you come home with three books and a DVD.

You get rid of your stuff only to buy better, sleeker, minimalist stuff.

You’ve been convinced that being a minimalist has to look a certain way. But you’re chasing an ideal. You’re chasing an image and trying to make yourself part of that image. It’s not real. In the end, your life will never look like the pictures because life itself is not minimalist. It’s only minimalist on your computer screen. 

Minimalism Is Just A Fancy Word For Simple

There’s nothing wrong with buying books that help us to learn strategies to live more simply.

There’s nothing wrong with owning multifunctional furnishings.

It’s okay to paint your walls white.

It’s good to limit how much stuff you buy and how much stuff you keep.

But people have been doing these things for years. It’s called simple living.

So let’s call a spade a spade. Minimalism is an aesthetic, an artistic value. It’s not a way of life. Unlike minimalism, simple is something that can be applied to almost any area of our lives without sounding stuffy or elitist. Let’s leave minimalism to artists and just live simple.

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James Ewen
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