My problem with minimalism

It’s not that I have a problem with the concept per se. I think minimalism is a good thing and has the potential to make us reevaluate what is really important and – hopefully – make us less materialistic in the way we think and live our lives.

No, my problem is that I have a burning desire to be a minimalist but I just can’t seem to make it work.

I’m definitely not a minimalist – I would be lying if I told people I was (which doesn’t mean I don’t) – but I have at least always seen myself as a person who doesn’t keep a bunch of unnecessary, unused items around me.

So I was surprised and not just a little shocked when I only recently realized how many little knick-knacks are spread all across my apartment. Forty-three square meters (roughly 460 square feet) is not big, so it doesn’t take much to make it look cramped and that’s exactly what has happened.


It wasn’t that long since my partner and I decided to clean out the apartment and now, only mere months later, we’re here yet again.

What defines a minimalist?

How much stuff can you own before you have essentially de-minimalized yourself?

Can I own ten different candle holders just cause I enjoy lighting candles or is there some hard rule against how many of the same thing we’re allowed?

Can I be a minimalist if my apartment is void of all unnecessary things but I’ve moved the rest upstairs to my attic instead, making that so cramped that even the spiders move out because “it’s time to look for something bigger”?

People say that minimalism will ultimately make you happier as you get rid of things that keep you down. Does that mean that I have to be happy to consider myself a minimalist?

Why do I end up with loads of things?

This is an interesting question and – contrary to the header – it doesn’t have an easy answer. I suppose it is different for everyone. But, let’s be real. It is hard letting go of what once had a purpose in your life, even though it no longer serves that purpose. Perhaps an old dress is just as much a memory of a place you visited as a seemingly useless piece of clothing. Maybe you are unfortunate (like me) and it has happened several times that you’ve thought to yourself “Ah… now that [insert item here] I gave to goodwill two months ago would really come in handy”.

Does minimalism make me happy?

We can’t all be minimalists but we all should be more aware of what we consume and how to reduce our impact on this planet.

Buy only things you love. Use them well. Repair them. Reuse them.

Will it make you happy? Maybe not.

In fact, I think happiness is much more likely to bring about minimalism than minimalism is to bring about happiness. But repeating the process above might bring you something close to happiness.


With a bit of inspiration and determination, you will get the good feeling of knowing that you’re doing your best; that you are capable of repairing things, capable of taking care of them and creative enough to think of ways to repurpose them.

I’ll make a promise to myself to become – if not a minimalist then at least a bit more minimalistic. A little like a minimalist but on my terms. I don’t know what defines a minimalist and I don’t know if I could ever be one. But if I try to be better, maybe I don’t have to lie when I tell people I’m a minimalist.

Maybe I’ll just say, “I’m a bit of a minimalist. A work-in-progress.”

12 Comments Add yours

  1. Going Batty in Wales says:

    I think you are right about happiness coming before minimalism. Often stuff gets bought to fill a gap which is unconnected to what is bought. Like you I try to pass on stuff I no longer use or need. My Mother had a mantra ‘A place for everything and everything in its place’ and for a long time I focussed on the second half as did she but actually unless there is a place where an item belongs it cannot be put away. So another key to minimalism is having plenty of the right sort of storage.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Josefin says:

      Yes, I’m just figuring that out but I feel like I’m changing my mind so much that it’s very difficult to be completely happy. But, I will say that just cleaning out my closet makes me feel much better. And I realize that my fear of missing things once they’re gone is actually not that bad because so far, I haven’t ended up missing things at all.
      That’s a lovely mantra, and you’re definitely right 🙂 It’s interesting that I haven’t thought of it like that before but now when I do, I realize that I still have a bunch of things that don’t have a place. I guess that’s why I move things around so much all the time…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Going Batty in Wales says:

        Good luck with finding homes for the things that wander.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. No Makeup Mama says:

    I think of minimalism as more a state of mind like you described — buying only what you love, being intentional about owning things that enhance your life rather than clutter it, and taking care of what you have — not necessarily having a certain number of possessions. That’s how I view it anyway. So sounds to me like you’re a minimalist 👍 [I doubt anyone is perfect at it – I’m certainly not 😄]

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Josefin says:

      Yes, I think you’re right about that, but I’m so conflicted because I think I haven’t quite found my design style yet. On the one hand I want to live a perfect Marie-Kondo-life where everything sparks joy and on the other hand, I’m dying to live in one of those beautifully designed Boho-homes with lots of throws and little things everywhere. But, I guess the environment has to come first anyway even though it’s not always at the forefront of my mind… :-O

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No Makeup Mama says:

        Yeah I want that Marie-Kondo-life too! But I’ve got four kids…so, I’m compromising. 😆 I’m sure you’ll find the perfect balance. It took me ten years of owning my own homes and “trying on” other styles before I found my own.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Your take on minimalism is more admirable!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Josefin says:

      Thank you Gerard! I think we should all try to encourage each other to do our best, even when we know it’s not perfect 🙂


  4. Gillian says:

    I love this post. I think of minimalism as living with the right amount of stuff. It’s not a one size fits all lifestyle and you have to make it work for you, which it sounds like you’re doing.


    1. Josefin says:

      Thank you Gillian! I’m beginning to feel like that more and more, but the more I get rid of the more I realize I still can get rid of so it’s also empowering in a strange way 🙂 Realizing that you’re not so dependent on stuff as you maybe thought before

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Gillian says:

        That really is empowering! Sometimes I’d just like to get rid of everything and start out with the bare minimum…I’d never do it but it’s a nice fantasy ☺️

        Liked by 1 person

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