Introduction: What Minimalism is and is not

Before I start digging deeper into the main topic of this guide I think it's important to spend a moment clarifying what Minimalism is and is not.

This is something I wrote about in the past and different people have different opinions. I'm not here to argue that this is THE correct definition. This is just A definition.

To me, Minimalism has nothing to do with anything visual. That might sound a bit strange since most of the online world seems to be focused on minimal aesthetics, minimal design, minimal fashion, and on and on and on.

There is an art style—called minimalism—that has very little to do with what these days we call Minimalism (I'll use the capital M version when talking about the latter). The current definition of Minimalism has morphed into this strange mix of a lifestyle and a set of aesthetic rules that the govern how people design their wardrobes, their websites (guilty), their homes and so on.

That's all very confusing. I wouldn't call minimalism a lifestyle. I'd much rather refer to it as a mindset or a guiding principle. There is a certain type of lifestyle that comes out as a result of applying a minimalistic mindset to your life but that is exactly that: a byproduct of that particular mindset. You can be a minimalist and not look like one if that makes sense.

As an example, my wardrobe is "minimal" not because I am a minimalist. My wardrobe is minimal as a result of me applying a minimalist mindset when it comes to buying clothes. The two might look the same but there's a subtle difference. I'll explore the topic of clothing later in this guide but let me just say that in my case the goal is not to be a minimalist. The goal is to be functional and to optimise as much as possible. And the result of that is a minimal wardrobe.

So keep all this in mind when you go through this guide of mine in the upcoming days and weeks. Everything I'll be talking about is a mindset and all the examples are just one of the possible outcomes when you apply that mindset to a specific situation. You might apply the same mindset to the same problem and end up with a completely different result and that's ok. There's no "right way" to be a minimalist.


This post is the introduction to what I jokingly called Manu's Guide To Minimalism.