minimalism is not asceticism

Minimalism is not asceticism, it's not about "wordly possessions behind" no matter what some say.

Every time I read you should stop loving things1 I realize more and more why things are important to us - to me. Moving from flat to flat every few years, changing countries and living abroad would easily make you loose the feeling of home.

Without your things it's really hard to accept places as your home.

"Home is where the heart is", "home is where family is" - true, but not the only truth. Home is where you can feel home, and that, in nearly all the cases, involves some relics, some "things" that makes you feel comfortable.

This, in theory, is the exact opposite of minimalism.

This is everything I own: A MacBook Pro, an iPad, an unlocked iPhone, seven shirts, two pairs of jeans, two jackets, one coat, one sweater, two pairs of shoes, a suitcase, a backpack, some gym shorts, bathroom stuff, socks and underwear. That's it. Everything I own can be easily packed into a small suitcase and moved within 30 minutes. There is nothing that I want that I don't already own. -

When I read those lines I had the following thoughts, approximately in this order:

  • Wow. Without worldly possessions, easy and lightweight.
  • I own a shitload of things compared to that.
  • Hm. Not a single screwdriver? How does he fix things when they break?
  • No outdoor clothes for hiking or excursions?
  • Does he even have a hobby?
  • Yeah, sure.

But this minimalism approach did not let me go, I kept on thinking about it, and I've reached a conclusion: that is asceticism. That is "leaving wordly possessions behind", one of the few things that many religion shares.

Minimalism should not be confused with asceticism.

It is true that you should not own too many things and that you should get rid of all you don't need. If you haven't worn clothes for years, you most probably don't need it. But as always, there are exceptions, clothes you will only wear on special occasions. And for environmental and mental reasons, keep the old, don't buy a new and sell it after the event. An unfortunate and sad, but important example could be a black suit, only worn at funerals.

If you plan to fix things because you believe in reuse instead of recycle2 you need tools and spare parts. Those are also not the possessions you need to get rid of, although there are ways to share them, like signing up for the local hackerspace community3.

If you have a hobby, for example, you love painting, have stuff to paint with. Not too much and make it sure you're actually using them.

All together I reached similar conclusion that the becomingminimalist4 site had: in minimalism you own as much as you need. Not less, not more.

It's all about balance.

Further readings:

  • A Practical Guide to Owning Fewer Clothes5
  • Why Fewer Toys Will Benefit Your Kids6
  • 7 Common Problems Solved by Owning Less7