the emotional connection to minimalism

Shining a light on minimalism. (photo by Jo)

“Why are you a minimalist?” he asks. “Well, essentially it helps me feel closer to truth.” (pause) “Well, okay I want to know more about that but what I meant was, WHY? Where did this come from?”

Ah. What my new connection is curious about is how did I come across this notion of living with less. Hmm. This requires some thought! I certainly know what I get out of it. Themes from my past musings encompass tangible restructuring (no paper, digital photography, managing tasks, donate and recycle..) to reducing any misunderstanding about where I stand in the world (transitioning careers, going back to school, being mindful, connecting with nature)

But how did I get here in the first place?

Perhaps I need a little inspiration to help me answer this question. I will check in with a few of the many interesting people I follow in social media for their take:

On the site Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus explain: “Minimalism is a tool used to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.” Looks good to me! They say it helps to restore their time, rids them of too much stuff and contributes to finding purpose in their lives. The reason they made this change apparently had to do with living the dream life ( high paying jobs, big houses etc) yet they weren’t happy. “We took back control using the principles of minimalism to focus on what’s important in life—to focus on living meaningfully.”

What does Courtney Carver of get out of leading a simpler life? “In thinking about and dissecting simplicity, I’ve come up with a few things that I know to be true. Simplicity has become a force in my life with benefits and habit changes that I couldn’t have imagined from the start.”  She describes a long list of surprising improvements that stem from a particular moment of awareness. Essentially, she makes changes every day to “live my life on purpose”.

I have so much fun watching the journey of Tammy Strobel of, who lives in a tiny house! After reducing the size of her home, the rewards grew beyond living with less, such as a reduction in debt, a smaller environmental impact and yes, “freedom”.

There are so many delightful and inspiring blogs out there about how to live with less stuff. (Check out Joshua Becker at, Rachel Jonat at, and Meg Wolfe at There are a variety of approaches, from strictly counting the pieces of clothing in your wardrobe to just generally cleaning out the house, room by room and getting into the habit of not filling it back up again! Yet there are also stories of significant changes in people’s lives.

Physical, mental and emotional clutter

Living in a tiny house, giving up a car, leaving an unsatisfying job or a defunct relationship – the deeper end of minimalism seems to provoke or is created by an awakening of sorts. In regards to stuff, I have always lived minimally due to budgeting of money and moving a lot – two reasons for keeping ownership light. But on an emotional level, I recognize that I discard what doesn’t work for me, whether it’s a suit I haven’t worn for a year or a friendship that has grown in a different direction.

So does this answer the question of ‘why’? As I strive to improve myself, the current moment has always held more meaning for me than the past. Here is the truth that I seek in my minimalist approach:

  • own less, appreciate what I do have.
  • be organized – clean lines invites aesthetic breathing.
  • do less and function efficiently.
  • reduce noise, experience beauty.
  • replace negativity with kindness.
  • don’t ignore – take control.
  • less guilt, more honesty.
  • give myself permission to soar.

And now I am experiencing a curious sensation. I feel the need to draw on my courage today to express these things. I think I haven’t actually answered the question fully. It’s tough to ignore that the past contains experiences I wish to shed. I think this is the reason for the constant reinvention. This is where mindfulness, for me, is key. A minimalist philosophy isn’t meant to replace a connection with the world, to ignore it. I am proud of my story – I’m just writing new chapters that illuminate who I am now and this streamlined approach helps me do it. Hmm. I’m processing…

I will ask my minimalist colleagues if they can shed some light on this with their experiences. And certainly anyone else out there if you’d like to comment, please do! 🙂