Minimalism is all about simplifying life down to its necessities.
It’s become increasingly popular over the last few years and you can also see minimalism reflected in fashion, furniture and decor trends.
Here’s how to know if somebody is a true minimalist or just posing.
1) Conserving what’s useful
The first essential trait of a true minimalist is conservation.
The minimalist doesn’t throw away what is useful, and prefers not to purchase things wrapped in plastic, having a lot of packaging or damaging to the environment.
The minimalist lives with utility in mind, and this brings peace and fulfillment.
True minimalists aren’t putting on a show, they truly don’t want to live a wasteful and consumerist life.
2) Prizing quality over quantity
Next up in the traits of a true minimalist, we come to the issue of quality versus quantity.
This is far from an abstract issue.
A family with four kids, for example, may shop twice annually for jeans and consistently buy the cheapest since it saves money in the short-term.
The minimalist, by contrast, will spend a bit more or buy tougher jeans for the kids so they last longer.
In the long run the minimalist actually usually ends up saving money, even though their purchases and decisions may look slightly more costly in the short term.
The minimalist would rather have one excellent and durable kitchen knife than a set of 12 average, easily-broken knives.
When it comes to quality over quantity, the minimalist always chooses quality.
3) Appreciating uniqueness
Minimalists not only appreciate quality, they also appreciate uniqueness.
They’d rather buy one multi-faceted and unique bookstand that’s slightly smaller than its others, rather than buying a larger bookshelf with much more space that’s very generic.
Every person’s taste is unique, of course, but generally speaking the true minimalist is one who appreciates uniqueness and singular items.
The same goes for people and connections: a minimalist would much rather have unique and deep friendships and relationships than more plentiful relationships which aren’t as stimulating or interesting.
4) Avoiding hoarding and excess
The next of the key traits of a true minimalist at heart is the avoidance of hoarding and excess.
The two go hand-in-hand, of course, since living and consuming in an excessive way tends to create excess.
Even in the sense of garbage itself, the minimalist tries to avoid the use of large amounts of garbage and to live a cleaner lifestyle.
Not to get too controversial, but the minimalist is more likely to prefer using a bidet in the bathroom, for example, than running through mountains of wasteful, unhygienic toilet paper in the course of a year.
5) Having a small wardrobe
When looking at the main areas of waste, clothing is right up there.
I can’t count how many shoes or outfits I’ve bought only to later not like them or have them fall apart because they were impulse purchases that I stopped enjoying or low quality.
True minimalists have a small wardrobe.
They tend to dress for utility while still looking fashionable.
They may have a few pairs of shoes and several hats, but nothing excessive.
6) Going digital where possible
Where possible, the true minimalist prefers to go digital.
This means he or she will tend to have a Kindle or Kobo or reading device of some kind, rather than having physical books.
Then again the uniqueness and experience of a physical book may keep at least some in the collection, and none of us can fault any minimalist for not going fully digital.
But if you’re talking about bank statements and things of that nature, it’s going to be all digital, baby!
7) Practicing clarity and brevity
The next of the traits of a true minimalist is clarity and brevity in their communications.
I once lived as a renter in the home of a high-ranking government minister. He was a definite minimalist and when emailing such as on a business trip giving me instructions to feed the cat, he would write his curt message in the subject line.
Minimalists write short emails that get to the point.
They also speak clearly and don’t overuse flowery words for no reason.
They save the poetry for their wedding or some other auspicious occasion. Day to day interactions are best served by being clear and curt.
8) Minimizing expenses
Next up and very importantly in the traits of a true minimalist is financial prudence.
The minimalist is not a money chaser nor a materialist.
But he or she does respect the need for enough resources to provide for basic needs.
To this end, the minimalist doesn’t waste money.
How do we define waste?
That depends on each individual, but a minimalist is unlikely to attend expensive concerts, buy overpriced clothes or eat at restaurants that cost way more than they should.
Minimizing expenses is one of the key traits of a minimalist, as is the ability and skill to save money and invest it wisely in ethical ventures.
9) Minimizing food waste
As the organization Feeding America notes, over 34 million Americans are going hungry, and part of the reason is food waste:
“Each year, 119 billion pounds of food is wasted in the United States.
That equates to 130 billion meals and more than $408 billion in food thrown away each year.”
That’s a lot of food!
A minimalist wants no part of that kind of epic waste and scrupulously avoids contributing to it.
10) Minimizing mental confusion
So much of modern life is full of noise:
Physical noise and emotional noise.
It’s hard to find a moment’s peace and just be alone with your thoughts.
The true minimalist cherishes moments of introspection and solitude when he or she is truly alone.
The true minimalist is willing to take digital vacations and spend time away from their smartphone and off the grid.
The essence of minimalism
The essence of minimalism is about simplicity and focusing on priorities.
When you have less clutter and less unnecessary waste, you’re able to focus on your purpose in life and get down to business with what you want to accomplish.
“The first step in crafting the life you want is to get rid of everything you don’t.”