Does Minimalism Lead to Freedom?

August 8, 2010

I have been thinking about this question lately.  My goal with the reduction project was to increase my personal freedom.  I started this because of a feeling of being trapped by all the stuff weighing me down.  The idea was that by getting rid of most of my stuff I would no longer have this anchor that prevented me from doing whatever I want.  Now that I’m getting closer to this goal I am sensing a conflict between minimalism and what I thought it would bring to me.

The thing about minimalism is that it adds limitations to your life.  Limitations that force you to make choices that otherwise would not be necessary.  These choices lead to owning things that are truly valuable to you, and doing things that have real meaning.  Without minimalism one is more likely to make a decision based on convenience.

For example, the MacBook Air is a minimalist computer with only one USB port.  With one port you cannot connect a mouse, keyboard, flash drive, external hard drive, external DVD drive, and iPod all at the same time.  Only the one device that is most important in the moment can be plugged in.

Another example – let’s say you have not worn formal clothing for years so you got rid of the suits/gowns in your wardrobe.  Then you are invited to an event with a strictly fancy dress code.  Keeping the extra clothes that are hardly ever worn would make it convenient to dress up for the event.  Having a giant wardrobe with outfits for any occasion gives one the freedom to meet any dress code at a moment’s notice.  A minimalist is less free in this situation because they must make a choice, to rent/buy new clothing or simply not go to the event.

The choices forced on a minimalist cause them to reexamine many things that otherwise may be taken for granted.   This is what fascinates me, looking at stuff and actions in a new light.  But I wonder if freedom is what I was really looking for?


3 Responses to “Does Minimalism Lead to Freedom?”

  1. Nice example on the Macbook Air USB. Being minimalist does require you to make a choice. But this choice is more convenient. For example, I have a full wardrobe with gowns that I can choose for an occasion. This causes analysis paralysis as I might not choose or worse, have to buy a new one for the occasion. On the other hand being minimalist, leaves with only three choices – not to go, to buy or to rent. I believe it’s simple as that.

  2. […] Does Minimalism Lead to Freedom? August 2010 2 comments 5 […]

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