I’m seeing more and more people talking about slowing down of late, but sometimes there seems to be some confusion around the difference between minimalism and simple living. In fact, for lots of people they are one and the same. Today I wanted to share my thoughts on what I find the differences to be, and why I lean more towards one than the other. I’d love to hear your thoughts as well!
Are there definitions?
The easiest way to define the difference between minimalism and simple living would be if there were fixed definitions for each, but alas that’s not the case. How they are defined will definitely differ from person to person, and there is certainly plenty of cross over. There are lots of minimalists who will view themselves as living simply, and vice-versa, and that’s great. They definitely don’t need to be standalone concepts!
So what is minimalism?
At its core, minimalism is about living with less stuff. It’s about reducing the physical stuff in your life to create more space for the things that really matter. There’s a big focus on decluttering and conscious consumerism, and in some circles that includes attempting to reduce the items owned to as low as possible.
Then what is simple living?
Simple living is a little trickier to define, but it definitely has a focus on getting back to basics, slowing down, seeking authenticity and reducing the impact on the planet. It can include everything from meditating to growing your own food. Really at its heart, simple living is about living with intention, and that will take a different shape for everyone.
What do I see the difference as?
For me, minimalism is definitely all about the stuff , which I think is super important but in many ways focuses on external drivers. Simple living on the other hand I see as more holistic, but also requiring a lot more introspection. Personally, simple living is what I see myself leaning more towards, as it encompasses so many elements that I find important. For me, that includes reducing my impact on the planet, living more intentionally and slowing down. There is a definite crossover however, as decluttering has been an important (and ongoing) part of my journey towards more simple living. My driver is not to end up with only the items I can fit in a backpack though, so I doubt I would ever call myself a minimalist!
At the end of the day whether you call yourself one or the other, it doesn’t really matter. In fact, there are a whole host of other ‘labels’ you could choose, including green living and frugal living which cover many of the same concepts. These are all part of an interconnected way of approaching life, so as long as it’s working for you then that’s what really matters.
StephanieJanuary 17, 2018 at 8:24 am (5 years ago)
I’ve never thought about the difference before today, but looking at your post I could see why there is a difference, and where they overlap. I think personally I’m starting off as more of a minimalist. I’m trying to get rid of stuff, and create a space that is less cluttered and more serene for myself. But eventually I’d like to move into more simple living, growing my own food and adopting zero waste goals. I think it’s one thing at a time for me right now though!Reply
Eleanor MayApril 16, 2018 at 3:08 am (5 years ago)
This is a very informative post. I often get confused by minimalism and simple living but you cleared it up perfectly. Thank you for sharing!Reply