Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Middle Way Minimalism: Living Simply

Take just one look at the content of trending and popular blogs, and it is easy to see that there is a revolution brewing. People from industrialized nations are fighting to get out of debt and digging themselves out from under years worth of clutter. They have rejected rampant consumerism and embraced minimalism and sustainability. People are blogging about minimalist wardrobes, 'minsumerism', tiny houses, even owning less than 100 things.

And it's all very exciting. But is it just a backlash- or even a fad? Fantasizing about white, empty walls and scooping up all one's < 100 belongings to 'backpack across Europe' has been equated to lifestyle porn. It looks good, sounds good, and seems oh-so-sexy. But just like the fallacy that money can buy happiness, striving for a house of empty surfaces (sorry kids, no artwork on the fridge), empty schedules (so I can meditate, dammit!), or a (comfortably?) nomadic lifestyle just sound like weird personality quirks, not bliss. 

People struggling with body image issues are told not to compare themselves to others, and that the number on the scale does not define self-worth. I think the same thing applies to the number of possessions one owns. Moreover, I really don't see how going from extreme consumerism to a self-imposed 'monk'-like existence helps achieve what people really want, and that is freedom. Instead it seems that the costly wastefulness of materialism has been replaced with a heavy egoism dependent on having 'less'.

That being said, there is no denying that the minimalist movement has benefited many people. Just the aforementioned shedding of crushing debt has been one 'miracle' facilitated by minimalist thinking. Other advantages include less time cleaning, shopping, searching, and fixing, and much more time for loved ones, special hobbies, and oh yeah, living.

The key is balance. Instead of focusing on how much (or how much less), I personally plan to focus on what is 'enough'. While terms like 'minimalist' can be helpful and descriptive, I believe that applying such words as self-labels can make us feel burdened by yet another expectation, when the outcome implied by that label may not be what we actually want. That's where the term 'Living Simply' comes in, because it is open and individual- it can mean what you want it to mean. My goal is to live a happier, richer life using a simple 'Middle Way' approach - without becoming attached to the concept of 'less', or caught up in terms defined by someone else.

What does 'Living Simply' mean to you? Could this help individuals live happier, richer lives? What do you think of the term 'minimalism' and the current popular interest in this topic? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

May all beings be happy!



  1. You make some pretty good points, though I still love tiny houses, but I think for more artistic or adventure weekend purposes. I wouldn't live in one for the long-haul.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Er!n. Oh yes, there is nothing wrong with tiny houses. They are great, and the super-efficient use of space is inspiring, not to mention really cool.

    It's just all this at once seems like the world has gone into crazy backlash mode, and that we need all kinds of labels and terms in order to make living simply work.

    But in my opinion, this is not so. I think these ideas are interesting, but wish to follow a more 'Middle Way' approach, as the Buddha taught.

    Have a great week!


Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and leave a comment! If you enjoyed this post, please share with others. -With Metta, Renata