on radical minimalism and why you might be able to relate more than you think


When I started counting the things that were leaving my home, the number got bigger and bigger.  And pretty soon, I realized why some minimalists count the things they own.  It’s because that number is a lot smaller than the amount of items that had to go before them. I counted 33 items in my seasonal summer wardrobe.  A month into the experiment, I realized I only wore two thirds of those items.  I guess I don’t need those other ten items after all.  One number continues to shrink as the other number grows.

Radical minimalism is not something people arrive at a day or even a week after they decide to begin their journey into minimalism.  It is a stage in the process – not everyone will move into radical minimalism from mainstream minimalism.  But I’m beginning to see how people arrive at radical minimalism.  It’s easier owning less.

The less I own, the less time I spend thinking about what I own.  The less time I spend taking care of what I own.  The less time I spend shopping for what I own.  The less time I spend paying for what I own. The less time I spend working for what I own.  The more time there is for doing more enjoyable things, and not acquiring more stuff.

A few super motivating, radical minimalists:

Nina Yau of Castles in the Airhere’s one of my favourite posts ever on radical minimalism, or “ultra minimalism” as Nina refers to it.  This is another fave.

Everett Bogue, formerly of Far Beyond the Stars.  You can read Everett’s archived blog here, it’s extremely motivating and I highly recommend it.

Dusti Arab of Undefinable You and formerly Minimalist Adventures

Bea Johnson from The Zero Waste Home

Kristy Powell from One Dress Protest 

Notice how none of those blog names have the word “minimalist” in them?  It’s because they’ve already moved beyond that, beyond the obvious, and into living more radically.  I was reading about all these different people who are really and truly (and successfully) living with less, and I wondered why can’t any of us do the same?

When I started identifying with the things these people were saying is when I began embracing the concept of radical minimalism, at least in theory if not yet in practice.  I always thought radical minimalism was some kooky offshoot of the minimalist movement that was for single people who longed to be “location independent” or “cybernetic yogis.” Good news, it’s for them but it can also be for me (and you) too.  Because once you’ve shrunk the amount of stuff you own to a negligible amount and you realize that you’re happy, or even happier than you’ve ever been, you begin to see how radical minimalism can be truly freeing.

I’ve given away thousands of things that I don’t need to other people, and I have yet to miss anything.  The benefits to owning less are great.  I would recommend the process of winnowing one’s belongings to anyone looking to live a fuller life.  Having I cleared away nearly five thousand items from my periphery, I can see a lot more clearly and the rhythm of my daily life is more enjoyable.

Start by letting go of things you don’t use or need.  Start counting your stuff.  Start making a connection between what you own and how little you actually need.  Start decluttering your life – your closets, your home, your schedule, your work commitments.  Make time to simply be, and see what comes of it.  It can be frightening.  And liberating.


3 responses »

  1. It definitely is freeing to purge the clutter from our homes and lives. And you are right, it is an ongoing process; our priorities change, which helps in alleviating more clutter. No matter what level of minimalism a person feels drawn to (conservative, moderate, or radical), the life of a minimalist is very rewarding.


    • You’re absolutely right – I believe it’s important to practice the level of minimalism that feels right for me, right now. I didn’t find it quite so easy to live with less when my kids were babies and toddlers (there always seemed to be a lot of superfluous baby “stuff” around) – now that they’re getting to school-age, I’m finding decluttering and living minimally a lot more manageable. As I’ve purged my home and become accustomed to living with less, the concept of living with even less that I have now doesn’t seem as daunting as it once might have.

      Thanks for your comment!

  2. Pingback: Simple Living and the Minimalist Lifestyle « Modern Aspirations

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