Stuff. Things. Everywhere. How to get rid of all of it? Own less. How to own less? Spend less.  

In today’s societal construct of expenditure, it seems like owning little is more difficult than meets the eye. Think of 10 things you use every day.   

Now, how easy would it be to live without them?  

Minimalism nowadays is a former intense thought experiment that has been watered down. Just like many of us won’t ever reach the peak of mountains like K2 or Mt. Everest (or find true love), many of us won’t ever have a spotless house with just enough to live and not so much that it’s overwhelming.   

Instead, minimalism is a thinly veiled farce, an idea forever lost in translation between marketing, advertisements, and social media content, pushing it as an “aesthetic.”   

Minimalism started as a post-WWII counterculture movement when a small subset of people realized that overconsumption of goods didn’t make them any happier.  

After the war ended and factories no longer had to pump out tank and ammo quotas each day, they turned to the consumer market, flooding it with thousands of different products. The quantity of runoff from the war was completely unprecedented and left many with FOMO, or the “fear of missing out.”  

Many people took their post-war purchasing power and bought. And they bought a lot.   

Twenty or thirty years after the war ended, consumers have bought more things than they could ever know what to do with.  

People started to feel overwhelmed in their own homes as they waded through junk they didn’t even remember buying. They wanted a change, but they didn’t know where to start. Eventually, people started just throwing stuff away, giving way to minimalism.  

What originally started as a lifestyle and something to partake in every day became watered down in an attempt to appeal to everyone.  

Minimalism became a design choice rather than a thought experiment. It became a way to design buildings or a way to style your living room. No longer was it something you had to actively think about every day of your life. It became something that was easily approachable.   

As time went on, minimalism grew further from an ideal and morphed more into what we see today all over social media: a monster.  

From cleaning videos to house tours to architecture content across social media, minimalism has obviously grown from a small practice into a lifestyle. Minimalist phones, books, houses, design choices, etc., you name it. There is an equivalent in a minimalistic form.   

While this spread of minimalism may be a good thing, it’s smart to keep in mind that minimalism is not something you can achieve.   

Minimalism is not something you work towards and then one day accomplish. You can never sit back and relax with minimalism (you have nothing in your apartment to do while relaxing, minimalism is awesome), but instead, it’s something you practice, something you simply have in your life.  

Nowadays, it’s an aesthetic, something everybody can have that makes them cooler.  

Minimalism is not only physical. Tenets of modern minimalism can be and should be, applied to your mental state. One of the largest drivers of materialism is the belief that you have to have the latest thing, or the newest apple watch, or more tech when in reality, none of those matters.  

New technology is often marketed as being minimalist; something used to make your life easier and less cluttered. You’ve heard testimony after testimony after testimony about how money can buy happiness, but can it buy fulfillment?  

It’s time to return to the idea of minimalism as a thought experiment, something just out of your grasp that you keep reaching for but you can never quite grab.  

In doing this, you become a practicing minimalist, someone who actively tries to remove unnecessary things from their life instead of living in a “minimalist” household and following whatever “minimalist” routine you found on TikTok.


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