Simple, Not Minimalist

You might know that I operated a blog called Hip Diggs for five years. The topic of the blog was simple living and minimalism. But I decided to quit running that blog. Why? Because there’s a difference between simple and minimalist.

I’m a Fan of Simplicity and Minimalism

First, let’s talk about minimalism. Traditionally, minimalism is more a type of art and design than it is a lifestyle. I actually love minimalist architecture, art, and music. Mid-Century Modern homes are quite minimalist in design. Minimalist art and photography are simple, they have strict lines and colors.

As for minimalist music, I create some of that. As Anderhill, I’ve tried to keep the music simple, some tracks even minimalist, using more drones and pulses than melodic structure.

Clearly, the term minimalism stems from art, not lifestyle. In fact, people were living simply for decades, even centuries before the term minimalist ever came into existence in the 1950s and 1960s. It’s only been in the last few decades that some folks have started referring to a lifestyle as being minimalist.

I was sucked in. For a period of time, I thought the minimalist lifestyle was the only way to live. I started getting rid of shit left and right. I downsized where I lived. I drove small cars and rode my bicycle to work. I was constantly downsizing.

But no matter what I did, I always felt like something was wrong. It felt like other so-called minimalists were better than me. They had less stuff. Their closets were emptier. I was comparing how little they had to what I owned.

Then I discovered another problem. Some of that stuff that I got rid of, and that 750 square-foot house I had downsized into, were not working for raising a kid. So I had to upsize and rebuy some shit I’d previously owned. Fuck!

From Minimalist to Simple

As a musician and an artist, I love minimalism. But to apply such strict rules and lines to a lifestyle is foolish. As I continued to blog about minimalism as a lifestyle, I began to discover many ironies. When I considered monetizing my blog and selling products, I couldn’t. It felt unethical to tell people to live with less only to sell them something more.

In time, I began to see that minimalism operates much like a religion. There are a handful of gurus making the rules, and everyone else follows. So after five years of blogging about minimalism, I gave it up. But I never gave up living simply.

I started my simple living journey as a kid. After all, I grew up in a cult. We were only allowed to have the basic necessities of life. Then throughout most of my 20s and 30s, I lived simple just to make ends meet. I was poor. I lived in trailers and studio apartments. Funny thing, I never wanted for much more.

Of course, with marriage and kids, life brought new needs. So in my 40s, I accumulated more shit than I’d ever owned in the four previous decades of my life. But it only took me a few years to figure out that simple is better.

No Rules, Just Simple

And here’s the difference between simple and minimalist. Living simply requires no set rules. Instead, you just think practically. You buy the things you need, and you think twice before buying things you want. If you know you’ll really use something, you go forward. If you know you probably won’t use it much, you don’t buy it.

You consider the price, the efficiency, and the effectiveness of any given item more than the size or the amount you already own. For instance, some minimalists own a limited amount of clothing. Many only own a couple pair of jeans. I have eight pair of jeans. But they’re all the same brand, style, and color, and I rotate every pair. That’s simple.

Now I don’t have to feel guilty if I occasionally buy myself something I might not immediately need. I think critically about most of my purchases. If I don’t need it immediately, chances are good that I’ll be able to use it later. If not, my daughter could use it. And the occasional purchase that goes unused can go to charity. Simple.

If you’ve considered the minimalist lifestyle, I urge you to reconsider. Minimalism as a lifestyle is a product, a trap. Instead, I encourage you to live simply without putting pressure on yourself to follow someone else’s rules. Just use a little common sense and live practically.