You’ve downsized your items so that you own only what you truly need and what makes you happy.
You’ve also taken control of your time so it can be spent on what’s important to you.
On top of that you’ve decided to give the people closest to you your full attention instead of pursuing the many distractions of todays world.
Then some day in the not too distant future, you tell somebody why you became a Minimalist. You tell them about how it’s made you happy and free as well as how it’s helped the people around you.
You await the persons response expecting them to happy for you.
But instead of offering encouragement, they return a look of disapproval.
They then give you all sorts of reasons (whether economic or societal) for why your new way of life is somehow wrong. The sad truth is that many people in this world just do not understand Minimalism as a lifestyle.
I’m not here to say that Minimalists should group together and aggressively campaign to start some sort of revolution. I wouldn’t know how to do that.
But what is important is that you understand that your choice to adopt a Minimalist lifestyle is not wrong. In fact it might just be one of the best things you can do not just for yourself but for everyone around you.
So what do people like to say about Minimalism
1. Minimalism is bad for the economy
Many people misinterpret the sole purpose of Minimalism to be to spend as little money as possible. While it’s true that the economy suffers when people don’t spend money, you could also argue that it does not serve us the way it was meant to because it requires people to spend money on things they do not need in order for it to grow.
Despite this, Minimalists still spend money. The difference is that they do so intentionally on items that are of higher quality and will last a longer time, or on experiences that they can share with others rather than cheap disposable goods that they know won’t make them (or their loved ones) happy.
2. Minimalism is only for men
It’s commonly assumed that all women are shopaholics and must own as many clothes, makeup and accessories than they could possible even use. This often leads to another assumption: that Minimalism is strictly for men and that women can’t be Minimalists.
Although I can empathise that women do need more items than men in general, there is no reason why women cannot enjoy the benefits of Minimalism. All it takes is a choice, something every human being is capable of doing regardless of gender.
3. Minimalism won’t work for families with kids
These days, parents spoiling their children with more toys than they could possibly ever play with at once is pretty much the norm. Because of this, any family who owns less than one hundred toys per child is likely considered deprived in the eyes of most people.
However, it only takes a small amount of observation to realise how quickly a child will become bored of one toy before moving to the next despite how expensive each toys was.
That Minimalism cannot be applied to families with kids could not be further from the truth. Joshua Becker has a wife and two children and has wrote a book on the topic while Leo Babauta has managed to raised a family of six children.
One could even argue that Minimalists make better parents because they value spending time with their family more than watching TV or scrolling through Facebook.
4. Minimalism is only for rich people
People often make this argument in response to seeing the high quality items that Minimalists tend to purchase or how futuristic homes can look once clutter has been removed. This usually leads to the misconception that Minimalism is strictly for the rich and is inaccessible for ordinary hardworking people.
The obvious part that so many people miss, is that Minimalists are able to afford high quality items because they don’t spend their money on the same hundreds of unimportant things everybody else does.
Instead, they can focus their spending on the things that actually bring value to their life.
It also helps that most Minimalists understand the troubles of financial dept and avoid it as much as possible so they have even more freedom to spend as like without burdening their future selves.
But mostly their expenses are typically so low that they have more money to spend than most people even when their wages may be exactly the same.
5. Minimalism is boring
Anybody who’s neck deep enough in Materialism will likely say this because they have been conditioned to believe that buying things is the only way to achieve happiness. Take away the momentary thrill of spending money and leaving the store with a new possession, and most people will feel totally unsatisfied with their life.
In many ways, these people are simply comfortable with Materialism. But comfort and happiness are two totally different feelings.
While boredom is a very subjective idea, I would strongly argue the opposite; that Minimalists actually have a greater opportunity to enjoy themselves more so than Materialists.
Because Minimalists know clearly what makes them happy and how acquiring new possessions does not.
They also appreciate the simple things in life like a walk in the park, or a stimulating conversation with an old friend. Things that most people have been conditioned to take for granted even though they’re right within arms reach and don’t cost a penny/dime.
6. Minimalism is restrictive
This argument relates to the idea that owning certain things gives you freedom, the classic example is usually car. In some cases, it may hold some water.
But consider the lifestyle of author, speaker and full-time traveler; Colin Wright who every four months travels to a new country and lives there carrying everything that he owns (less than a hundred items).
Do you think that Colin would still be able to live his adventurous lifestyle if he owned two thousand items, a car and a house full of furniture?
Probably not or at least it certainly wouldn’t be anywhere near as quick and simple.
Every possession you own has a certain weight that can actually restrict your freedom.
Are you really “free” to move house at anytime you choose while carrying the responsibility of two thousand items on your shoulders?
7. Hoarding is a natural human instinct
Usually when you hear this argument, it is followed by theories of cavemen collecting sticks and rocks. Without getting into a debate about human evolution over thousands of years, hoarding is actually considered among health organisations to be a mental illness.
But the real reason why people hoard, as Leo Babauta has explained is not because of natural human instinct, but because of fear.
Fear that they will lose the memories associated with their possessions. Fear that they will someday need the things they have stored in their basement or in a lockup somewhere miles away from their home.
Fear is NOT our natural state.
Minimalists on the other hand understand that memories are held in the mind and not in objects or images which allows them to over come this fear.
8. Stuff makes people happy
Materialism encourages you to prioritise possessions and money over spiritual aspects of life such as health, fulfilment and relationships.
But imagine acquiring all the material wealth that you’ve been taught to desire, the fast car, the luxurious condo, a seventy-five inch tv or just about anything that big businesses try to convince you to want.
Now imagine that you’re suddenly diagnosed with an incurable disease and you only have six months to live.
Would the stuff still feel like a luxury? Would it still bring you comfort? Would it still take priority over health, fulfilment and relationships?
Even if one tries to justify meaning through their possessions, that meaning will always be infinitesimal if their basic survival and spiritual needs are not met.
9. Minimalists are lazy
It’s not that surprising for people to come straight to this conclusion hearing a Minimalists’ desire to work less hours in a soul-sucking job. In a culture like todays where busyness is praised and having time to yourself is frowned upon, people are ever more likely to make this judgement.
But most Minimalists are not motivated to work less hours just so they can sit in front of screen binge watching Netflix or play Call of Duty for 6 hours straight.
Minimalists see their time as one of their most vital resources. To them, their time is far too precious to be spent working in a boring, lifeless dead-end job that they know they will regret doing later in life.
Minimalists are not lazy, they just value time and meaning more than they do money.
And just to directly address the argument that Minimalists are lazy, most Minimalists are very focused people that thrive to be good at what they do.
Joshua Fields Millburn spends three to six hours a day, sometimes seven days a week crafting his writing. Colin Wright is constantly seeking new experiences beyond his comfort zone and beyond what is considered normal so he can share what he’s experienced with others. And when Leo Babauta decided to make is health a priority, he not only quit smoking, but he also became a runner, lost seventy pounds and ran a fifty mile ultra marathon.
These are not the actions and characterises of lazy people.
10. Minimalists are selfish and only care about themselves
Out of all the arguments I’ve come across, this one is likely the most profound.
Many people make the assumption that Minimalists prioritise their own needs and do not cater for others. Some even assume Minimalists to be freeloaders who burden others when they need to use something but don’t want to own the thing themselves.
These are abstract, stereotypical misconceptions built mostly from ignorance rather than evidence.
The reality, is that most Minimalists place an unparalleled amount of value in their loved ones because they understand how truly irreplaceable they are. More often than not, just being able to serve and add value to the lives of their families and friends is enough to make Minimalists happy which is certainly not selfish.
Minimalists are also aware of the suffering that mass consumerism causes for others.
Such as the men, women and children in developing countries who work long hours in dangerous conditions for very low wages to make products that can be sold at ever cheaper prices in more developed countries.
Most Minimalists refuse to spend their money in ways that support groups who cause such suffering for others. Some even choose to consume in ways that have little to no contributions to animal cruelty and environmental damage.
Instead, they choose options that are fair trade, cruelty free and environmentally friendly so that nobody is suffering as a result of their actions and lifestyle.
And they do this because they care.
Caring about the wellbeing of others is not selfish. In fact it’s opposite of selfish.
Take a deep breath
Minimalism is a very peaceful way of life.
Most Minimalists only ever share their lifestyle with others out of enthusiasm and have no intention of talking down on others.
There will always be people who disagree and some may even argue aggressively that their way is better.
But it’s not your job to deal with the insecurities of others.
What’s most important, is to not feel discouraged if and when you encounter somebody who tries to tell you that your way of life is wrong.
I would encourage you to think about all the people who do agree with you and know that what you’re doing is right for both you and everyone else around.
And finally, to let your example persuade others to do the same through nothing but your own actions.
The world is a big place, and no matter how many people disagree with you, there will always be others who will take your side and show you that you’re not alone.
Craig Link is a minimalist and technology enthusiast with a passion for finding and sharing practical ways to live a simpler life with more time, money and energy for what’s most important to you.