While the core principles of minimalism remain the same, the way people interpret and apply them has changed. In the past, having less stuff in a standard cookie-cutter home was considered the pinnacle of minimalism. Nowadays a modern minimalist uses minimalism as a tool to work less, travel more, and create a life outside the traditional norms.
Minimalism was ahead of it’s time in many ways. Historically, people pursuing minimalism viewed it as the end goal. As a result, people considered purging items and creating a minimalist space as the objective.
Over time people have become more self reflective and intentional with their lives. Normalizing and celebrating questioning why we do the things we do has occurred. This has lead minimalism to no longer be the destination, but actually becoming the tool to aide in the pursuit of much larger ambitions.
What is a Modern Minimalism?
Modern Minimalism is the shift from minimalism being the goal towards using minimalism as a tool. When the minimalist movement became mainstream, all the emphasis was about minimizing stuff. With minimalism adopted by hundreds of thousands of homes worldwide, the movement now embodies a more dynamic form.
In brief, a modern minimalist uses minimalism as a tool to achieve their most epic life. The dream life a person desires doesn’t need to have any relationship with their current life, it can be the most outlandish idea, yet minimalism can help them to live that dream.
Why Become a Modern Minimalist?
There is infinite flexibility with modern minimalism. For example, someone can use modern minimalist principles to live in a mansion and pursue fame or disappear to live off grid in the forest. Spending money, owning, and maintaining less stuff gives you more money, flexibility, and freedom to do whatever you want.
Acknowledgment that stuff is the problem is only the first step, deciding to do something about it is where the magic happens. Your life will be forever different after adopting modern minimalist principles. Your minimalist home is just the beginning. Achieving your dream life is the real end goal.
11 Modern Minimalist Principles
These modern minimalist principles embody the core of the minimalist mindset. In this article you won’t find tips or tricks on minimizing your stuff. Learning to shift your thoughts is the new era of the minimalist movement.
#1 Focus on Experiences
Minimalists believe that experiences bring more joy and fulfillment than material possessions. Instead of accumulating more and more things, they prioritize spending their time and money on experiences that create memories and bring happiness.
There are two different ways to store memories. Unique and new experiences have their own individual memory file. Daily occurrences like brushing your teeth, working at a routine job, or picking your kids up from school are stored in a group folder.
Life that happens primarily in mundane routines seems to go by super fast. You’ll constantly be saying, “I can’t believe it’s already November,” or things that indicate life happening quickly. Whereas the epic vacations you take, your wedding day, or very special experiences can seem very long. Those moments all get their own folder so your time is magically longer.
Minimalists extend their lives by creating as many individual memories as possible.
#2 Embrace Simplicity
Minimalists strive to simplify their lives by decluttering their homes, reducing their possessions, and simplifying their routines. Hence, by simplifying their lives, they free up time and energy to focus on what’s truly important.
Carrying out actions and behaviors for no good reason is like nails on a chalkboard to minimalists. If someone says any of these things, you can expect a minimalist to respectfully disagree:
- Because it has always been done this way
- Because this is what is expected of you
- Because people will judge you if you don’t
- Because that’s the way it is
- Because you’re being told to
Rejecting expectations and embracing a simpler life of intention is a goal in minimalism. We can agree to disagree that life shouldn’t be lived a certain way because someone else imposes their beliefs.
#3 Prioritize Self-Care
Minimalism is not just about decluttering your physical space, but also your mental and emotional space. Self-care is a key component of minimalist living, as it helps you recharge and maintain a healthy harmony.
Many people find minimalism attractive because they realize stuff makes them anxious. Society makes people believe they need all those things to make them happy. But, after many years of torment they discover happiness doesn’t come from external objects.
Shedding possessions frees up mental capacity to focus on literally anything else you happen to care about. Each object was taking up brain power that was preventing you from using that capacity for things you care about more than that thing.
Stuff aides in avoiding addressing mental and emotional matters by constantly filling your time and utilizing your energy. Re-organizing the bathroom or cleaning the kitchen is much easier than having a much needed conversation with your spouse or acknowledging the rift with your mother. Facing those tough conversations is cathartic and a positive step for your self-care.
#4 Attempt Sustainable Living
Minimalists are often environmentally conscious, and they strive to live in a way that is sustainable for both themselves and the planet. This means reducing waste, conserving resources, and making environmentally-friendly choices.
The crossover between minimalism and sustainability happens because minimalists tend to look at the bigger picture. As they are considering their role in the wider consumer landscape the natural next step is the environmental impact of those purchases.
While some minimalists might be interested in cultivating an off-grid lifestyle, most simply seek to make more mindful choices about consumption. They might choose more sustainable products, foods, and transportation methods.
Giving consideration to the planet and our impact is not trendy to minimalists, it is vital.
#5 Quality Over Quantity
Minimalists believe that it’s better to have a few high-quality possessions than a lot of cheap, disposable ones. They prioritize investing in durable, well-made items that will last a long time.
Making the choice to buy quality over quantity goes beyond being the more sustainable choice, it is also a practical one. During the lifetime of an object a higher quality item typically costs less per use or per day over a long duration.
Additionally, needing less items to carry out tasks is prudent for minimalists so they don’t have to own as many objects. Budget solutions have a tendency to be less effective or only utilized under certain conditions. You can often use higher-end products in more situations or for longer durations of time.
#6 Meaningful Connections
Minimalists value relationships over material possessions, and they seek out meaningful connections with others. Whether it’s spending time with family and friends, volunteering in their community, or pursuing a passion, they prioritize relationships that bring joy and fulfillment.
Being willing and able to focus on relationships is more difficult in modern society than you might realize. A modern minimalist makes choices such as reducing technology use, rejecting hustle culture, and embracing meaningful connections.
Everyone says they want more time to spend with family and friends. But, meanwhile they spend lots of time doing things they claim to not want to do. Minimalism is really about taking back control of your time, money, and space. You do not have to do those things you don’t want to do.
Make time for your loved ones without giving in to platitude excuses. There is only not enough time if you allow less important things to overtake your time. When it comes right down to it, you are not making your loved ones the priority they deserve to be.
#7 Slow Pace of Life
Minimalists often reject the fast-paced, consumerist grind lifestyle, and instead embrace a slower, more intentional pace of life. They believe that taking things slow allows them to savor life’s moments and live in the present.
Hustle culture exploded during the social media era. Everyone wanted to monetize their lives and turn hobbies into income. There was no longer just doing things for the sake of wanting to do them, it was all about doing things because of how it appeared to your followers.
If given the choice between seeing 3 major attractions in one day or seeing one major attraction each day over the course of three days, which would you choose? If time, money, or practicalities were not an issue, everyone would choose the second option. People speed up their timelines and live a fast-paced life because work, childcare coordination, or hotel costs demand it.
Doing more and appearing happy are not at all the same as actually being happy. Having seen first hand the travel experiences of mega influencers, it is quite clear they are not enjoying life. They are making a living by seeming to have an enjoyable life.
#8 Practice Mindfulness
Minimalists strive to live in the moment and be mindful of their thoughts and actions. This focus helps them concentrate on what’s truly important and avoid distractions.
If you’re unaware of what mindfulness is, the concept is really simple. Mindfulness is simply paying full attention to the moment you are in. A mindful person isn’t distracted by their phone, looming deadlines, tense conversations, or the stress of monthly bills. Your mind is paying attention to the present moment, not the past or the future or any other situation.
It is a luxury to be able to practice mindfulness. Most people are too overwhelmed with stress, decisions, expectations, and life to be fully present. Modern minimalism is the tool to eliminate most external pressures that occupy your mind.
Staying stuck in unsolvable situations happens because nobody has shown us that unstuck is possible. A modern minimalist accepts that rejecting social norms is acceptable and celebrated. You don’t have to stay stuck in those distracting situations. This moment right here is the most important moment because it is the one you are currently experiencing.
#9 Learn Flexibility
Minimalists believe in being flexible and adaptable, and they are open to change and new experiences. They believe that this mindset helps them find joy and fulfillment in life.
Going with the flow is a very important aspect of minimalism. I like to think of obstacles I face as the minimalist pivot. If I don’t have the perfect item to solve a problem, I pivot.
For example, before minimalism I had a fondue pot that I had used once. After minimizing I had no fondue pot. What I ended up doing is putting the fondue in a pyrex lasagna pan and putting the pan on an external skillet directly in the center of the table. I used an extension cord to plug it in and we used regular forks to dip our food in the cheese. Everything worked perfectly and there was no regret in purging the fondue pot.
Before you instinctively claim you can’t live without something, be open to consider other possibilities. Needing to ask your community for help, finding a different solution, or giving up that thing all together are all other options to consider. Remember, you’ll have more time to problem solve as a minimalist so it will likely be less stressful than you’re anticipating to purge that thing.
#10 Seek Joy
Minimalists find joy in the simple things in life, like spending time with loved ones, enjoying nature, or pursuing a hobby. They believe that happiness lies in everyday moments, not just material possessions.
Anytime you do something and think to yourself, “Wow, this makes me so happy,” you should try to do that thing more often. The idea that you should savor few and far between happy moments is such a farce. You should do that joyful thing as frequently as possible.
You shouldn’t be a sacrificial lamb that appreciates any tiny crumb of joy you’re lucky enough to receive. If you love the beach, go live at the beach. If you love tennis, play tennis every day. If you love sunflowers, make your whole yard sunflowers. Do the thing that makes you happy and figure out the practicalities as you go.
Living a life of sacrifice is so last century. You are destined to live a life you choose, not one imposed on you.
#11 Celebrate Personal Growth
Minimalists believe in personal growth and self-improvement, and they strive to continuously learn and grow as individuals. Whether it’s through education, travel, or new experiences, they believe in the power of personal growth to bring joy and fulfillment to life.
My favorite article on personal growth is, ‘Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds.’ Our entire existence relies on certain social rules. We learn, grow, and become who we are within the confines of those rules. However, it has become more and more clear that the rules are bullshit.
Adopting a modern minimalist mindset involves rising above the arbitrary confines of society. If you are becoming a minimalist it’s clear you are willing to learn new things and change your mind. The negative connotation surrounding changing ones mind becomes a non-factor.
In pop culture there are many times when the idea of changing your mind is vilified. Depictions of marriages failing because one partner is ‘no longer the man I married.’ The insinuation, of course, is that people shouldn’t change over the course of a marriage or lifetime. Thank goodness my husband and I are no longer the people we married, we are so much wiser, more thoughtful, and savvier than those young adults who tied the knot in Las Vegas.
Modern Minimalist House
Your home is an external representation of your mind and life. Being happy with less is a choice that encompasses every aspect of who you are. A person who embarks on a journey to become a minimalist will usually start with their physical possessions.
Minimizing your home will make daily life faster, easier, and less stressful. Finding objects you need won’t take as long because there will be less clutter getting in the way. Eliminating choices from your closet or cabinet will reduce decision fatigue. You’ll need to clean less because you’ve reduced the number of items that require maintenance and care.
Start your journey by creating a modern minimalist house and let your mindset evolve during the process. If you use minimalism as a tool to achieve your dreams than you’ve become a modern minimalist. It’s never been about the stuff.