We’ve all heard of minimalism, but what exactly is extreme minimalism? Is it worth the trouble of even more downsizing? Are there any benefits?
Continue reading to find all the answers.
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What is Extreme Minimalism?
Extreme minimalism is a more hardcore version of minimalism. Extreme minimalists choose to live a life with only the most necessities. Each item owned is carefully selected and only the most vital items are kept or purchased.
In a way, it is similar to asceticism, which is a practice of strict self-denial as a measure of personal and spiritual discipline.
But, extreme minimalism differs from it in a way that limits the number of possessions is not done to obstinate from self-indulgence, but to achieve freedom from the constraints of worldly goods.
Extreme minimalists are truly mindful of the things they own.
Examples of Extreme Minimalism
Several lifestyles match the philosophy of extreme minimalism.
Find some examples of them below.
Tiny House Movement
More and more people are deciding to downsize the space they live in. The tiny house movement is not just about living in a small space, it is more about simplifying your lifestyle, living with less, and avoiding debt while enjoying the freedom that accompanies it.
The typical American home is around 2,600 square feet, whereas the typical tiny house is generally between 100 and 400 square feet. American homes have become increasingly bigger with no need to be that way. The bigger the house, the more space to fill with unnecessary stuff.
Recently, many nomads have decided to live and travel in their vans. It is a basic lifestyle, owning only the bare necessities which can fit into your vehicle. Van life gives you the ability to take control and live a life on the road without paying huge bills and feeling under pressure.
Furniture Free Living
For some living a life with no furniture or just the bare minimum e.g. sleeping on a mattress is a valid option. Youheum Son, for example, is an extreme minimalist that shares her experience on her YouTube channel and her blog Heal your living. She shows her followers that you can live comfortably even with little to no things. And she also has a cat! 🙂
Andrew Hyde: 15 Things I Own
Andrew Hyde decided to keep only 15 things before he set off on a trip around the world. He focussed on a really limited number of items and succeeded. It enabled him to travel more freely and simply.
Does Extreme Minimalism Make You Happier?
There is a long list of benefits for extreme minimalism.
Extreme minimalists don’t have to stress about clutter and feeling confined in their homes. Their living space is clean, airy, and functional. Extreme minimalist interior design is perfect for those who easily get anxious in overfilled and cluttered spaces.
When you own less stuff, there is also less stuff for you to clean. You don’t spend hours cleaning your home but can focus on being more productive in other areas of your life.
By simplifying your life you save so much time and energy on dealing with the stuff. Not just that you own less of it, you also don’t spend time shopping, thinking about what to buy, and how to fit it in your home.
Change of focus
Less stress, fewer chores, and more free time enable you to focus on what is really important to you. By the end of the day, you feel more fulfilled because you have the freedom to concentrate on things that make you happy and accomplished.
There is a reason why lots of nomads are minimalists. It is just easier to travel and move carrying less luggage. Not to mention how effortless it is to pack as an extreme minimalist.
America’s biggest downfall is debt. People go into debt to buy a bigger house, newer car, or designer items. Most of these things are unnecessary. Unless you have a big family, you don’t need a huge home. You also don’t need a new car every couple of years. Nobody needs designer items.
The extreme minimalist lifestyle came into existence as an answer to life with debt. Tiny house movement, van life, and furniture-free living are all different solutions to living within your own means and not having to go into debt to sustain your lifestyle.
So I would argue that yes, extreme minimalism can make you happy.
It is great for people who perform the best in clean, clutter-free spaces and get anxious surrounded by stuff. It enables you to lead a simple, stress-free life with more free time.
Downsides of Extreme Minimalism
On the other hand, there are some downsides to extreme minimalism.
It Is Limiting
Extreme minimalism works great for single people and people who love to travel.
However, it is not convenient for people who need lots of supplies for their work, e.g. creatives or teachers.
It is also hard to sustain if you live with a partner who is not a minimalist or have pets.
Is It More Sustainable?
Although minimalism goes hand in hand with sustainability, I would argue that it can also work against it.
Extreme minimalists declutter most of their possessions. They only focus on the exact number of possessions. However, there are certainly many occasions when they need something they decluttered and have to buy it again.
That is not really sustainable, in my opinion.
Sometimes it is worth holding on to something that you know you might need in the future.
Is Extreme Minimalism Lazy?
To become an extreme minimalist, you have to go through downsizing, which is an extremely elaborate, time-consuming, and emotionally draining process.
First, downsizing to extreme minimalism is a physical process. You have to take everything out of its place and take out what you don’t want to keep. Then you need to come up with a solution on what to do with all the decluttered items. Finally, you have to actually declutter it from your home.
Second, it is also an emotional process. You have to go through all of your belongings including all of the sentimental items. Those items provoke a different array of emotions from nostalgia about happy days to sad memories. It can exhaust anybody.
Although living an extremely minimalist lifestyle means you have to do fewer chores and spend less time cleaning, you have to go through a lot of work before getting to that point.
Extreme Minimalism Tips
To achieve the perfect number of items think of a certain number. This is the number of items you want to own ideally.
It can be only 15 items like Andrew Hyde decided or 30 or 50. Depends on your lifestyle. These should be essentials for you.
Once you get up to that number of items you should slowly work on getting rid of everything else. Then, when you achieve that, you can call yourself an extreme minimalist.
Items You Can Get Rid Off – Extreme Downsizing
Here are some prompts to get you moving on downsizing:
Which pieces of furniture are essential to you? If you decluttered them would you even notice? Which ones you could declutter but don’t want to?
- Clothes & Shoes
What kind of clothes do you wear on an everyday basis? Can you do the laundry often? Which items of clothing are easy to take care of? What are your favorite pieces? Do you need to replace some of your basics? What kind of climate do you live in?
What products do you use every day? Can you come up with more purposes for your favorite product? Do you enjoy wearing make-up? Can you simplify your skincare routine? Can you upkeep your hairstyle without lots of products?
- Kitchen utensils & dishes
Do you have guests often? Do you live alone? How many kitchen utensils and dishes do you need? Can you wash dishes often? Do you cook? Do you eat at home?
- Home decor
Does home decor make you happy? Are some of your decorations personal or memorabilia? Will you miss your home decor if you would to get rid of everything?
Do you commute to work? Do you need a car? Or own a bike? Is there a good public transportation system in your city?
Can you store important documents digitally? Do you own a kindle? Can you join your local library? Do you want to keep your old notebooks/journals?
How do you clean your space? Do your towels dry fast? How much bed linen do you need? What kind of climate do you live in (e.g. do you need blankets)?
- Digital space
What can you declutter from your computer? Is your desktop full of files? What kinds of newsletters are you subscribed to? What YT channels / Instagram accounts, etc. are you following? Which apps do you use regularly?
Things to Implement for Easier Transition
Think of your possessions as primarily functional.
Can you come up with a solution to use your items in many different ways?
Take, for example, a soap. You can use one soap to cleanse your whole body, hair, and face.
Invest in high-quality products that will last you a long time and that you can use over and over again.
- Cotton rags
- Kitchen utensils
- Boots, etc.
It is often the case that extreme minimalists also adopt a zero-waste lifestyle.
Zero-waste lifestyle is based on the following principles:
- reduce what you need,
- reuse as much as you can,
- send little to be recycled,
- compost what you cannot.
Looking into zero waste can help you make a transition to extreme minimalism. Opt for reusable products as much as you can, and stay clear of single-use items.
Many extreme minimalists create a capsule wardrobe that contains only a certain number of clothing pieces and is highly functional. It is a great idea to build a kind of uniform that simplifies getting ready each day. It should be cohesive, durable, and functional.
Some go so far that they fast for certain periods of time to save on food and therefore minimize their fridge. Although it is healthy to fast for a shorter duration from time to time, it is not advisable to practice multi-day fasting regularly.
Extreme Minimalist With a Family – Is It Possible?
In short, no.
Minimalism as a philosophy is completely possible for families, but I cannot see how extreme minimalism would be.
To specify this, any family can downsize and live only with the stuff they value the most. They can adopt minimalist philosophy and raise their children to appreciate it. However, it is impossible to limit your possessions to a certain number, especially when you have children who constantly grow and need different supplies for school.
It would just make life too hard and no family members would enjoy it.
Balance Is the Key
The truth is that too much of anything will make you unhappy. If you force something, like for example, extreme minimalism, you will not enjoy it. And the point of minimalism and downsizing is to enjoy life more and don’t stress over stuff.
Extreme minimalism is worth the trouble if you thrive in a clean, airy environment and easily get anxious in crowded places. It could help you with your focus and release some stress.
Find what matters to you and what you value the most in your life and concentrate on that. The solution to achieve that might be extreme minimalism, but it also might be something else.
I would always advise first trying something you are interested in and then seeing for yourself if it suits you.
If you decide to try extreme minimalism, please share your thoughts with us!