The concept of minimalism has been steadily gaining popularity. The idea of living with less material possessions and streamlining one’s life to the essentials is appealing to a growing subset of the population fed up with consumerism.
Take the story of Joshua Fields Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus, known online as The Minimalists. They both had six-figure salaries, but chose to walk away from them when they realized more stuff wasn’t making them happy. Lifestyle creep from cultural pressure to “keep up with the Joneses” had led to massive debt despite their increased income, and their lives became stressful. So they took inventory of what they had, and what actually made them happy, and chose to pare back to only those things.
Minimalism doesn’t necessarily mean living like an ancient Spartan with only a bed, a dresser, and a single set of clothes to your name. People who pursue a minimalist lifestyle do so by only keeping what makes them happy and fulfills their everyday needs in their lives. Well-made things that serve a purpose are valued more than the latest trends.
Filmmaker Matt D’Avella chose to wear the same simple outfit every day once he embraced minimalism. He has less furniture and superfluous stuff in his apartment, and he says it’s made him happier. He’s so passionate about the lifestyle that he filmed a hugely popular documentary about it with The Minimalists that you can find on Netflix.
So what are the benefits of a minimal lifestyle? They’ll probably vary from person to person, but a few of them are more or less universal.
The most obvious benefit of having less things is, you guessed it, spending less money on them. Whether it’s replacing cheap disposable objects like tools or tech items with longer-lasting versions, or paring down the amount you shell out for digital subscription services you never use, buying smart is always better than buying more.
Improved mental health.
Ever notice how, when your workspace or home is cluttered with trash or dirty dishes or whatever else, you feel more stressed out? Science has shown there’s actually a reason for that. According to Psychology Today, physical and mental clutter have a negative impact on our lives and our productivity. It can leave us feeling harried, distracted, like our work is never done, and hinder our natural creativity. Psychologist Sherrie Bourg Carter writes:
“Clutter bombards our minds with excessive stimuli (visual, olfactory, tactile), causing our senses to work overtime on stimuli that aren't necessary or important.”
A minimal approach leaves less objects to clutter up your physical space, and lets you feel like you can breathe easier. That feeling of relief you get when you (finally) clear out the garage or get rid of the clothes you haven’t worn in years isn’t imaginary, it’s beneficial.
A greater degree of personal freedom.
Take a moment and consider how often you think about the things you want. Not your life goals, the actual material things. A new car. A bigger house. That awesome pair of shoes that just came out. Imagine if all the time and energy you spent thinking about them, you spent on something else. Something that made you happy or moved you along toward a tangible goal like finishing that creative project you’ve had in the back of your head for the past six months but haven’t started yet. Financial advisor and author Dave Ramsey probably put it best when he said:
“We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.”
Doesn’t sound worthwhile, does it?
More free time at your disposal.
We’ve talked about physical clutter and mental clutter, but what about calendar clutter? If your days are stacked with things you don’t actually have to be doing (and that don’t provide any value to you) why? Were you afraid to say no to them because you didn’t want to displease anyone? Could you be spending that time reconnecting with friends and family or working on a fulfilling hobby instead? If the answer was yes to either of those things, consider decluttering your calendar as well as your closet.
Minimalism and design.
As with the minimalist lifestyle, minimalist design is all about reducing a product, piece of art, or design to its utmost essentials, giving it as clean and simple an appearance as possible while maintaining functionality.
Starting in the 1960s and 70s, minimalist design has increased steadily in popularity until it became part of the mainstream. The website Creative Market, which offers designers a place to sell digital projects, describes minimalist design on their blog as “expressing only the most essential and necessary elements of a product or subject by getting rid of any excessive and, therefore, unnecessary components and features.”
Today, everything from UX design to home goods uses aspects of minimalist design to create products that feel clean and intuitive to use, including us, your friends at Modern Fuel.
When we made our all-metal mechanical pencils, we had minimalism in mind from the start. We wanted to design something that would appear totally seamless and function like a dream, all while giving off an unmistakable appearance of quality. The first version of our pencil was a success, and the next is even better.
You won’t find hundreds of different color options in our shop; we only make our pencils out of four carefully selected, aircraft-quality metals. What you will find is a writing tool that’ll last a lifetime: an understated piece of design beautiful in its simplicity.