• Anita Chastain

How to be a Minimalist: Do it Your Way

Updated: 6 days ago

Interested in minimalism but think you have to follow a lot of rules? You don't. Make minimalism work for you.


Are you interested in becoming a minimalist but are turned off by the thought of having to follow a lot of rules?


Rules that say, for example, that you can own this, but you have to get rid of that. Or, if you buy something, you have to give up something else to keep everything in balance.


Those rules may work for some people, but they don’t work for me, so I don’t follow them.


And, if they don’t appeal to you, you don’t have to follow them either.

Minimalism is a mindset, not a collection of rules.

Minimalism Isn’t About Rules

I believe minimalism is a mindset, not a collection of rules.


I believe that a meaningful life is the result of the experiences you accumulate, not the stuff.


I make decisions about what I buy and how I live based on my view of a meaningful life - not someone else’s.

What other people keep and what they let go of is a personal decision. It’s not a decision I can make for them or that anyone else can make for them either.

What other people keep and what they let go of is a personal decision. It’s not a decision I can make for them or that anyone else can make for them either.


If I were to compare my experience of minimalism with someone else’s, we might have certain experiences in common, but different experiences in other areas.


And that’s ok.


We’re different people and lead different lives. What works for me won’t necessarily work for someone else.


At the end of the day, what's most important is that you make minimalism work for you.


10 Minimalism “Rules” That You Can Ignore

There are several common misconceptions about minimalism.


Sometimes people view these misconceptions as rules and decide minimalism isn’t for them because they don’t like these “rules” or don’t believe they can follow them.


Let’s look at the 10 most common rules about minimalism that you can ignore:


1. You can only own a certain number of items. This isn’t true. You can own as few or as many as you like. You decide what to keep and what to let go of.


If you want to keep it, then keep it. If not, let it go.

Minimalism isn’t about achieving a state of emptiness. Far from it.

2. Your life will barren and empty just like your home. Minimalism isn’t about achieving a state of emptiness. Far from it.


What I’ve let go of, I don’t miss at all - whether those were things or ideas.


I actually feel more fulfilled because I surround myself with belongings and ideas that mean something to me.


3. You must paint the walls white. I read something a while back about minimalists painting their walls white.


If white walls appeal to you, start painting. If not, don’t worry about it.


You are no less a minimalist because you didn’t paint the walls white.


4. An item has to meet certain criteria to be considered worth keeping. The only criteria that something has to meet is that it adds value to your life.


I know some minimalists that don’t own a microwave or rice cooker because they believe they’re unnecessary.


I own both, and they make my life easier. That’s all the reason I need to keep them.

I still buy things, but I make more intentional purchases.

5. You can’t buy anything. That’s not true either. I still buy things, but I make more intentional purchases.


I don’t buy because I’m bored or buy on impulse. I buy because the item fills a need in my life.


I used to be a shopaholic, but minimalism changed my entire way of thinking about how and why I spend.


I still buy things, but I approach the whole process a lot differently now. You can buy things too.


You get to figure out what kind of spending habits work for you, not someone else.


6. You have to become a vegan or vegetarian. Some people choose to be vegetarian or vegan because that works for them.


You may choose one or the other of those choices, or you may not. Either way is ok.


You don’t have to change what you eat because you choose to live a minimalist lifestyle.


7. You have to label yourself as a certain kind of minimalist. Some people enjoy defining their choices. Others don’t.


You can label yourself or not.


In the end, as long as the decision you make works for you, it doesn’t matter.


It’s your life, you get to decide how to define what a minimalist lifestyle looks like to you.


8. You can only own a certain number of outfits or clothing items. Again, not true.


Some people create a capsule wardrobe to minimize their clothing choices. Others don’t.


I significantly reduced the amount of clothing I own, and I’m happy about that decision.

You might choose to own less or more than I do. It's a personal and practical decision based on what's realistic for your life.

You might choose to own less or more than I do. It's a personal and practical decision based on what's realistic for your life. And that's ok.


Make a choice the works for you, not someone else.


9. You can’t own decorative items because they don’t serve a useful purpose. There are minimalists who own virtually no decorative items. There are others who own more.


I own decorative items, but I don’t own as many as I used to.

I chose to pare down until the rooms felt calm, but not empty.

I chose to pare down until the rooms felt calm, but not empty.


I enjoy the beauty of what I've kept. But others might see it as too much.


Don't feel pressured to get rid of this or that because someone else did. Do what feels right for you.


10. You have to get rid of most of your furniture. This is another misconception that isn’t true.


Paring down furniture is a personal and practical decision.


If you decide to get rid of furniture, think about what you need to keep to live comfortably, given the needs of your family and the lifestyle you want.


But don’t get rid of furniture just because someone else says that’s what minimalists do.

If you want to be a minimalist because you find minimalism appealing, you have the freedom to define what that life looks like to you.

Key Takeaways

If you want to be a minimalist because you find minimalism appealing, you have the freedom to define what a minimalist life looks like to you.


Make your own rules and make changes that make sense for you. If your choices differ from someone else, it's ok.


At the end of the day, the only person who has to live with those choices is you, so make decisions that make you happy and help you live the life you want to live.


How do you define minimalism? What would it look like in your life? Email me at anita (@) simplelife365.com.

NEXT: You might enjoy reading The Most Important Thing I’ve Learned as a Minimalist.

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