What I Hate About Minimalism

Over the past 6 months or so I have found that the minimalist movement has really been beneficial to me.

While things are not completely better; my anxiety has improved, my clutter has decreased, my house stays more clean (minus my ridiculous amount of coffee-making equipment), I have had more time to practice quiet times with the Lord, and I have felt better about the environmental footprint that I am leaving.

The benefits of minimalism continue to increase day after day.

This lifestyle that I am living now has helped me to meet many new people, it has transformed my norm, and most importantly has helped me to reduce the noise in life so that I can focus on the things that truly matter.

The problem is that despite all of the good things that minimalism has brought me, I do hate something about minimalism.

It’s not the practice of minimalism. It’s not the people who practice minimalism.

It’s the necessity for this movement.

In Ecclesiastes 2:11 King Solomon (one of the wisest men of all time) stated;

“When I considered all that I had accomplished and what I had labored to achieve, I found everything to be futile and a pursuit of the wind. There was nothing to be gained under the sun.”

Solomon had gained everything that the world had to offer and yet he found that none of it satisfied him. That sounds a lot like the world we live in today.

And yet, we live in a country in which we will go in debt to buy bigger and better houses, faster cars, and updated iPhones all while we are ignoring the fact that 22,000 children die around the world everyday due to starvation.

In what world should we need a “minimalist movement?” Isn’t this something that we should have been taught for our entire life? Shouldn’t we have grown up living as simply as possible so that we could help other people out?

I am under the conviction that some day when I meet Jesus I will be held accountable for the things that I have done in my life. I believe that He will tell me that I did some good things, and some bad things, but ultimately because of His sacrifice for me I will be saved.

But, I do not look forward to the part of the conversation in which Jesus is going to point out that while I was chasing material things I was failing to love Him and my neighbor. But thank God that minimalism is offering me a more intentional way of living. 

Yes, I love being a minimalist but I also hate the necessity of minimalism because this way of life should not be viewed as the exception but rather as the expectation. If the American dream is to have a ton of nice things hoarded up for my entire life, then I will gladly reject that dream, accept the title of “failure,” and proceed to live in a way that benefits others, not just myself. God has given us a new day to live and I intend to use it for the good of the world around me.

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23 Comments

  1. This is not meant to be a criticism but as I read I wondered what you have actually been able to do for those 22,000 children by living minimally.

    I live pretty minimally, not as part of any movement, but because of my priorities.

    I believe/hope that most people – at least most Christian people – if given the choice between meeting a specific, immediate need and buying an updated iPhone would meet the need.

    The problem is that we don’t always trust that the money we saved and gave to this or that organization is actually doing much good. And if we go to the local need and get personally involved, then we are no longer living simply. Because meeting real up-close-and-personal needs can be messy.

    So, how has living minimally allowed you to make an actual difference. Because I’d love to.

    1. Thanks, Julie! I agree that this can be difficult. My thoughts are that if I am living minimally, and spending wisely, I can give sacrificially. While I obviously can’t fix world hunger, I believe that if we all lived minimally and sacrificially, we could see massive progress in the world for the common good.

      1. I think if you could get specific about what the massive progress would look like and how, specifically, it could be accomplished, then people would join you.

      2. Hi Dylan (and Julie) 😊 I wrote about this same issue because several friends have asked me the same question re: how my minimalism can help others. I guess I think of it as Mother Teresa’s “one, one one” principal. One-on-one acts of mercy and kindness to one person at a time. I prefer to do that anonymously.

  2. In my opinion, Dylan’s comment about starving children was meant as a comparison point in how lives are lived. Those who aspire to achieve material things versus those who don’t even have basic needs met. I don’t think Dylan’s article is about what he is going to achieve for those children who are starving by becoming a minimalist. My takeaway is what I think Dylan was trying to get across. Living minimally allows him to live his life with intention and realize that we don’t need material things. And what he hates about minimalism is that it even has be a lifestyle that has to be aspired to, in the current age of materialism, especially because of all of those children who are starving every day. Minimalism should be a way of life.

  3. Hmmm.. some interesting points here. As much as I appreciate minimalism or any other way of life, if it starts making me feel guilty or like I’m not free to live as I choose, it’s no longer a positive lifestyle choice. To me that’s always a sign to okay, let’s change it up a bit. Not be so intense about it.

    Thanks for sharing your reflections,

    Nadalie

  4. Wow this really made me think. I do agree, we need some sort of movement because people buy all these things and forget that there are people out there with nothing. I personally find that there’s nothing wrong with wanting more, but if greed gets in the way of compassion, then there really is an issue.

    Kirsten | The Wandering Brunette

  5. I agree! Sometimes I look around and feel so ashamed that I need to implement some minimalist principles to my wardrobe, kids toy room, general mindset etc. I should just be living it! But it’s certainly a lifestyle that I think we have collectively lost in the western world.

  6. Love this post! I read that you could feed all the people in the world with the amount of money Americans spend on dog food in one year. I love dogs and pets, but that stat has haunted me as I prioritize money and giving in my life. Thanks for your beautiful words.

  7. This is a great perspective! As a Christian, minimalism resonated with me because of my knowledge of the Bible. The thought never came to me that even since Biblical times these ideas existed and yet humanity still moved into the opposite direction. Why did the world still grow to teach that more is better? I would not consider myself a minimalist but have been applying some principles to areas of my life and have noticed measurable improvements. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Reblogged this on merciful minimal and commented:
    This is a reblog of an excellent post I recently read. It sums up the heart of what Merciful Minimal is all about. Blessed to be a blessing.

  9. Bravo!
    This so makes my heart flutter. I shall continue to live/be an example as best I can the minimalist lifestyle. I too will share this with my audience. Blessings!

  10. I can totally see where living a minimalist lifestyle can help with clutter and anxiety. To be certain a clean tidy room is calming. I have to be honest and say I don’t know much about minimalist living but it sounds like it is a life giving way to live. I agree that children should be raised in a way that helps them appreciate people more than stuff.

    I am wondering if the minimalist lifestyle really helps you connect with the Lord. I am always pushing to get closer to the Lord and there are many things in my own head that push back. I think that is the point of this life on earth. We need to live our lives connected to the Lord in a way that pleases Him. All the other stuff will have its proper perspective and place.
    I will be checking out your blog more to discover what the minimalist lifestyle is all about.

  11. Dylan, I can verify that your post is “spot on”! I do work in Kenya, and our current program pays school fees so very needy kids from the rural area can attend high school. Otherwise those kids will only have an eighth grade education as their basis for life. When I do fundraising presentations, I am always surprised that people prefer to buy a piece of jewelry or souvenir from Kenya as a means of support rather than giving an outright donation. Maybe this is a symptom of our material culture, maybe not, but it is a consistent dynamic I experience in most presentations, faith-based or secular.

  12. Dylan, I can verify that your post is “spot on”! I do work in Kenya, and our current program pays school fees so very needy kids from the rural area can attend high school. Otherwise those kids will only have an eighth grade education as their basis for life. When I do fundraising presentations, I am always surprised that people prefer to buy a piece of jewelry or souvenir from Kenya as a means of support rather than giving an outright donation. Maybe this is a symptom of our material culture, maybe not, but it is a consistent dynamic I experience in most presentations, faith-based or secular.