Minimalist living is not just a lifestyle choice, it's a design trend.
It's been trendy and stylish for a while now.
And I don't think it's going anywhere.
Sure, the "look" may change. Different furniture, textures, colors may come into style. That's all interior decorating.
But minimalist living should not be confused with a decorating style.
So why is minimalist living more than a decorating trend?
Minimalist living is the lifestyle that results from intentional living.
It's values-based living. It feels good to live by your true values. Often it creates a minimalist look in your home because you've realize - ah ha! I value spending my time with people! Therefore I want to spend less time cleaning, organizing, and maintaining my stuff. So that I have more time with my people. (Or my dogs. Or my knitting. Whatever.)
Sure, some people may cultivate a minimalist look in their home because it's in style, and they value keeping up with the trends. That's a value. Others may value things like freedom, creativity, presence, and wellness.
And the intentional part is that it takes focus, effort, and intention to live out our values through our actions and shape our environment so it truly reflects and supports our values.
Living out our values is minimalism or essentialism.
Each day has 24 hours in it. Gary Keller, author of The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results, writes "You need to be doing fewer things for more effect instead of doing more things with side effects."
You know this. That's why you're here on a blog about simple living. So what are your values? Not the values you think you should have. The values you actually have.
Part of intentional living is self-honesty. It's probably the most important part. Once you identify your values to yourself honestly (and you don't have to talk about them with others unless you want to), only then can you examine your life to ask yourself if you're living intentionally.
Are you living by your values? That is intentional living. Taking fewer actions for "more effect" instead of doing, doing, doing, without examining what it's all for.
Quite a few people don't know what their intentions are behind 80% of what they do. That is called unintentional living. The result is usually regret and behavior that hurts themselves or others: harmful, embarrassing, or even abusive behavior.
I was recently watching a newscast of Aretha Franklin's funeral service. Singer Ariana Grande performed, and afterwards, the leader of the service, Bishop Charles H. Ellis III pulled her toward the pulpit in a horrifyingly tight and ongoing grasp which inappropriately reached the side of her right breast. She grimaced and appeared to try to pull away but he only groped more of her breast more tightly the more she struggled. After a social media outcry, he apologized, saying, in part, "It would never be my intention to touch any woman’s breast." So what was his intention? I suspect it wasn't to #respectAriana. I suspect he was living untentionally, and as a result, he publicly groped a young woman.
Quite a few people have intentions to live out certain values, but those intentions go unfulfilled. We end up living other people's values, or values defined by what we see on television or social media. You could those empty intentions, because we aren't living our own lives. When we see what we're actually doing day in and day out, we see ourselves living some other idea of what our life should be, not what we really want. The result is usually poor self-esteem, confusion, and self-doubt. Eventually it can result in depression and stress-related health problems.
For example, pretty much every politician has stated values and intentions when they campaign that they are then unable or unwilling to fulfill while in office. Then because it's so painful to be honest that they couldn't fulfill intentions, they lie to themselves and their constituency about it, creating more difficulties and distrust in the whole system.
It takes time to learn intentional living. You could say it's part of growing up and taking responsibility for your life and your choices. But no matter how old you are, it's an ongoing process, and it's never too late to begin or start over. It's takes courage, especially when you see that what you value is different than what is considered valuable in mainstream society or what is depicted on screens small and large.
But it's never too late. So whether you got into minimalism through a desire to have a clean, minimal-looking home, or because you want to live out your own values, I invite you to stay past the interior design trend.
Because minimalist living is really about examining the purpose of everything (not just furniture) you have in your life and choosing only what really supports your true values.
If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy my #1 Amazon bestselling book on the topic of embracing minimalist living for more joy, health, and creativity.
And if you haven't yet, sign up for the 3-Day Decluttering Challenge below to jump start your minimalism journey.