Minimalist: My Crack at Defining Who We (They?) Are

You can define minimalists any way you want, but everything I read defines us — or should I say them — slightly differently.

Are we all talking about the same thing?

I don’t like labels, so I don’t whole-heartedly accept any of them, not even “minimalist.”

I try to live a simple, deliberate life. I don’t make many useless purchases, but I eat fast food. I don’t attend many events at the finest performance halls, but I try to see some live music in a fun setting as often as I can.

I’ve eliminated the clutter that once threatened to swallow me, but my house isn’t exactly tidy. I run my own very small one-person business, but it isn’t passive. And I write. So many minimalists do that, don’t they?

Lots of people go wildly wrong when they try to define minimalists and minimalism.

Some people think minimalists are concerned with decorating. Minimalists, they suspect, have chairs that appear to be suspended in mid-air and sofas — sorry, a sofa, singular — covered in a neutral beige fabric as well as a painting of a single red brushstroke hanging from a silver wire on the wall above it.

Others think of minimalists as young men dressed in one of five t-shirts and one of three pairs of khaki shorts living at an extended stay hotel out of a carry-on bag, sipping plain black coffee at a Starbucks knockoff with free wifi.

Both of those cleverly worded paragraphs describe only certain types of minimalists. I’m older than many so-called minimalists, I don’t wear shorts and my sofa has a floral pattern. (It’s actually striped, but the floral pattern thing sounded so much sillier.)

So can I be a minimalist?

Each day, I believe a bit more that I am.

You see, I don’t participate in other people’s systems or schemes unless it benefits me. And I don’t waste my time — unless wasting it is best for my soul at a particular moment.

I qualify as a minimalist because my life has:

  • less stuff
  • less busywork
  • less nonsense imposed by others
  • less self-delusion


  • more tolerance
  • more mindfulness
  • more excitement


  • more of what really gives meaning to life.

That’s my life. And today, that’s my definition of a minimalist. Sofas and suitcases don’t matter.


  1. good post.
    I’ve been reading too many so so bloggers writing up rules, ways, and lists that take minimalism away from me. For example, it seems that many bloggers in the minimalist niche have a distaste for t.v., I can get caught up in avoiding t.v. as well because I don’t really love it, but I’ve found that it’s made hanging out with friends difficult because I’m not up to date and I get a guilty feeling when I go on a t.v. binge. I want minimalism to improve my life, not complicate it or make me feel guilty when I go against a principle that may or may not originate from me.

    1. Thanks for the thoughtful and useful comment, Albert.

      I have the same feeling about TV. I sometimes enjoy it — and I like DVDs when I choose what’s on — but I don’t really love it. We all needs some diversions and background noise from time to time.

      Good to see you commenting here again.


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