Is Your Minimalist or Non-Minimalist Living Costing You (or Others)?
Pros and cons for being a minimalist vs. a non-minimalist
I’ve never considered myself a minimalist. I live in a two bedroom place that fits all my stuff with adequate free walking space. So, I’m not a hoarder (the opposite extreme of a minimalist).
I’ve tried minimalistic living. I couldn’t get used to it, so I didn’t like it. It was costing me too much. I found myself unnecessarily going out and buying things that I had just recently thrown out.
Maybe you’re curious what makes a non-minimalist tick? What are our reasons for holding onto the stuff?
For several reasons. First and foremost, for practical reasons. I want to find anything, easily. I want access at my fingertips. And I like to see my stuff, because that means it’s easily in reach.. The reason I know this is because I don’t prefer things stored on top shelves that I can’t see or reach without a ladder.
Organization vs. Minimalist Living
Organization and minimalist living are mutually exclusive. I consider myself organized but not a minimalist. One way to tell if you are organized is, can you find your stuff easily?, according to Julie Morgenstern’s Organizing from the Inside Out.
If I know where it is (and can see it), then it is easily available. That’s actually how I stay organized. I like to see my colored folders so I can get to them quickly. That’s efficiency (and a little laziness combined).
The minimalist, on the other hand, has most everything hidden from sight, filed in cabinets and drawers, or else it has been thrown out or donated.
When I was younger, I was proud that I knew where every little thing was. And I had many little things I collected (but didn’t display). Since then, I changed my perspective. Remembering where small unimportant things were, robbed me from joy. My mind was more preoccupied on things than more important topics.
But I didn’t shake my non-minimalist ways, completely off.
Keeping some of the sentimental stuff, nourishes me. I like memories. They remind me that my life has meaning.
Showing my possessions, reminds me that I have distinct personality and tastes. Lack of possession, decorations and knickknacks mean that there is less expression of creativity and individuality. It’s a boring life.
For a pure minimalist, you hold a different set of beliefs. But, before you judge me or your non-minimalist friends, let’s just say neither minimalist or non-minimalist (the two types) is the better way to live, and I’ll explain that further below…
But before that, since you’ve already heard my side of the story, here’s the minimalist side…
Here are a few minimalism living reasons:
For practical living space reasons. It’s easier to maintain, clean, dust. It’s easier to pack and move.
Keep things simple. It keeps the focus on important internal thinking instead of external things.
Achievement. Feeling good when you proactively keep your home, tidy and free from unnecessary stuff (you don’t use).
Hospitality. You can comfortably invite guests over at any time without thinking twice.
Here are some drawbacks (on both sides).
For the minimalist, it can be…
Costly. Minimalist living means you have to run out to buy things frequently. Because most everything has already been gotten rid of. Yes indeed… that box you just recycled could have come in handy for shipping or storing something. And keeping that second extra hair dryer could’ve saved you from buying a new one now that your first one just blew out. Now you have to go out and buy one.
The minimalist doesn’t think this way.
This is why hoarding tendency, Great Depression survivors held onto everything because they didn’t have the money to go out and buy.
And this is why it can be inefficient also for the minimalist.
Inefficient. You don’t have anything around, so you have to go out (or order) when you need something.
Hurtful to your relationships. If you live with someone who is not a minimalist, you most likely will look at their stuff as the enemy. And possibly that person as the enemy. It happens.
If the other person’s stuff gets thrown out, then there is a problem and possible argument. For the minimalist, you possibly seethe and the stuff gets “under your skin”. You have no attachments to things and wonder why there are so many things around.
In extreme cases, that attitude could meander towards people also. You see people as disposable.
Obsessive behavior. Minimalism suggest that the space you occupy is always free of excessive items. This puts the minimalist’s mind to think that everything has to be thrown out that is not used regularly or daily.
This could fall into obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) tendencies.
For the non-minimalist, drawbacks could be:
Costly. It takes more time to clean or costs more to pay someone to clean or move.
Inefficient. Taking extra time to think and find things (instead of not thinking about things at all).
Hurtful to relationships. If you live with a minimalist, the difference can cause friction.
Obsessive behavior. Accumulating too much or hoarding things that will never be used again (they go bad, become outdated or are unnecessary).
You probably noticed that the same categories of drawbacks are on both the minimalist and non-minimalist living styles, but with different descriptions. Just something to consider. And here’s another thing to think about…
Sight vs. Memory
Scenario 1: If you’re a minimalist and you can’t find the jar of pickles right away in the refrigerator, you assume it’s not there. Because it’s not in sight, and you can usually see everything in the refrigerator. There’s usually more empty space than filled space.
In contrast, an organized non-minimalist relies on memory to find items. The jar of dill pickles is hidden behind the jar of hamburger pickles.
Scenario 2: If you’re a minimalist, you use your mind to recall and think of memories from the past. As you don’t have any visual reminders.
If you’re a non-minimalist, you rely often on possessions and photos that you see sitting out.
So the visual (seeing) and recall from memory solutions for the minimalist and non-minimalist is flip flopped in these two scenarios.
From a mindful standpoint, for either type you still have to think in the moment about what you need to recall. Just in a different way. So, neither is really fully better for de-cluttering the mind reasons.
And the bottom line is, neither of these two types (or ways) is better. It’s just the perspectives you own. You have to decide what works for you (and your partner or living mates).
You’re naturally one way or the other (similar to a night owl vs. an early bird morning person). But you have a choice to change your situation if you want. Depending on your ability to adapt and motivation for making these changes is going to determine your success.