These are the kind of questions that are asked about minimalism by those who follow it and encourage others to follow suit.
And when first starting out on the minimalist path getting rid of as much as you can is addictive. But as time moves on I’ve questioned whether a constant push to own less, to have fewer items makes you a better minimalist.
At first these kind of questions and rules are a great way to clear some space and introduce minimalism into your life, but if your focus remains solely on how little you have then you are arguably missing the point of the process.
It becomes an arms race to the bottom as people strive to own less than others and show they are the most minimal. The competitive element and focusing too much on abstaining from stuff means you don’t get to enjoy the benefits and space that getting rid of items has given you; you bind yourself in a whole new way.
Minimalism is better viewed as a tool to enable a better life as opposed to a way of life in itself. I’ve come to realise this distinction over the past couple of months and it’s been an important one.
Your focus shouldn’t be on owning the fewest items you can but on what meaningful things you can fit into the space that is left. Minimalism is a means to an end, but if you’re not focusing on the end what’s the point in starting.
When the next article on how few items you can survive on comes out, I’m just going to ask the question ‘do I have enough to get by’? If the answer is ‘yes’ then that’s good enough for me, chasing the ultimate minimalist title is a race I don’t want to be in.
I’ll be out making the most of the new life it has given me instead.