Minimalism as a lifestyle seems popular.

The name backward, though, which confuses people and makes it less accessble. It's a lifestyle about maximizing, not minimizing.

I may be too late because maximalism appears taken by a movement unrelated to what I describe below, but I suggest changing the name.

First, what is minimalism?

Minimalism is hard to define, but these people and communities seem central to it.

At first, they seem united by less--less stuff, clutter, distraction, etc--but that association misses the point and confuses people.

My experience

I have less stuff than most people and I try to get rid of what I value least in favor of enjoying what I value more. Actually, more effective (and harder) is avoiding acquiring things I'll value less than they encumber me.

I consider Less, Please one of my most important posts. I take six months to fill a small bag's worth of landfill garbage.

As a result, people describe my apartment and me as minimalist. I bristle at the term. Partly I find labeling people oversimplifies them. Mainly I don't feel the term captures what they see that prompted their using the term.

What people see as less stuff is more freedom, meaning, value, purpose, etc

I don't get rid of things for the point of getting rid of them. I get rid of them to liberate myself from their holding me back.

Getting rid of stuff is not about stuff for me and the people I listed above, as best I can tell. It's about freedom, meaning, value, purpose, and things like that.

Talk to anyone in the movement and you'll hear them talk about freedom, meaning, and those things, which they maximize. That's what I do, at least. Superficially we'll talk about material things, but only as means to an end.

It's like thinking that people who knit care mostly about knitting needles because they spend time with them. They care about more than knitting needles. They probably care about more than sweaters, hats, and mittens.

They probably care about the smiles and joy they'll create in the people they give them to. And about their personal growth practicing their craft and expressing themselves.

They need the needles to get there, but they care about the results.

Why label a movement by what it devalues and doesn't do?

Labeling the movement by what it devalues implies people care about what they don't and that they are moving in a direction they aren't.

Minimalism as a label in architecture and design makes sense because the architects and designers minimize stuff. As a label for a lifestyle, it's backward.

Everyone I've talked to who practices what people call minimalism cares about freedom, meaning, relationships, etc, which they try to maximize. Yet the movement's label is about material stuff and sounds like deprivation or sacrifice.

I suggest someone more central to the lifestyle, who embraces labeling it, work to claim the term maximalism from design and replace the old term minimalism.

Published on: Oct 31, 2017
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