Chances are you've probably heard the words minimalism or simple living floating around. It seems that more and more people are struggling with finding contentment and happiness in their day to day life, so they are turning to these philosophies as a solution. The truth is there are many different simplicity lifestyles, each of which offering wonderful benefits for addressing our society's issues with depression, anxiety, stress, and overall poor health. However, it's important to fully understand each movement to decide which lifestyle, if any, is right for you.
SIMPLICITY LIFESTYLES EXPLAINED
You might be surprised to learn that there are many different types of minimalist lifestyles to choose from. Most people assume that it is living a sparse life with few belongings inside of a tiny house. However there are actually a few different ways to practice minimalism, depending on what your focus is. The following are a few examples, with many people choosing to practice multiple minimalist philosophies:
A Zero Waste lifestyle means exactly what it sounds like - living your life in a way that produces zero waste. There is a strong focus on being sustainable and eco-friendly when choosing products, services, or even what type of home you live in. Basically, anything that is considered disposable - plastic cups, paper napkins, food packaging, diapers, water bottles, etc. - is avoided in order to reduce landfill-bound trash to the bare minimum.
Something fun to check out: a great non-profit dedicated to helping people live a zero waste lifestyle.
So many people assume that "living simply" is the same as minimalism. While there certainly can be overlap, it's actually quite different from minimalism. Simple living focuses more on living holistically with your life's purpose, while minimalism is mostly concerned with reducing or eliminating external factors. To live simply doesn't require you to declutter or reduce anything. Instead, the point is to understand how your belongings, the people in your life, or commitments you make all function together to get you to where you are most content.
Through the process of trying to adopt a simpler life, you may find that you need to get rid of objects or adjust certain behaviors, but you might also decide that having a house full of things does bring you happiness. It's an individual journey that looks different for everyone.
The goals of minimalism, zero waste, and simple living are all similar: move away from consumerism, be kind to the environment, focus on a healthier pace of life, place value on people vs. things... Each philosophy focuses heavily on one area over another, but there is overlap among all three. However, slow living takes it several steps further by creating one cohesive approach to life that addresses all of the aforementioned goals.
An easy way to think about minimalism, or even simple living and zero waste lifestyles, is to picture each as an important facet of the Slow Living movement. To live slow means you care about minimalism, simplifying the way you live your life, and also reducing your carbon footprint on the world. It's the whole picture versus focusing in on one area of concern.
If you haven't already read my article on what slow living is, please take a moment to read through it. I go into more detail on the history of the movement, what it looks like today, as well as provide resources to help you adopt a slower lifestyle.
WHICH SIMPLICITY LIFESTYLE MATCHES YOU BEST?
If you've read through the previous section, you might already have an idea of which simplicity lifestyle resonates most with you. However, if you're still feeling confused, I created a simple quiz to help you determine which lifestyle matches you best. After taking the quiz, please feel free to email me with your results or post to your favorite social media sites. Enjoy!
0 - 10 points: minimalist
11 - 20 points: zero waste
21 - 30 points: simple living
31 - 40 points: slow living