What Even is Minimalism?

So this may be a term you’ve heard thrown around a lot lately. Minimalism. The idea of living more freely by living with less. It is simply the idea of getting rid of what isn’t necessary in our life in order to not feel overwhelmed and focus on making memories instead of buying more and more.

This may seem like a pretty foreign idea, especially when we live in such a capitalistic society that encourages us to keep buying the latest, the newest, the fastest, the grandest, the make-your-neighbors-so-jealous-that-they-will-basically-want-to-be-you-and-secretly-envy-you-while-they-watch-from-their-kitchen-window-est.

Honestly, this is all a load of crap to me.

But let me start out this post with the video that changed my mind about all of this. Several years ago, I watched Graham Hill’s Ted Talk, “Less stuff, more happiness”. I actually had my Korean students watch it the other day– seriously, being able to control the content your students see is the best. Secretly trying to change the world via my individual students? You betcha!!

Anyways, here’s the video:

Nowadays there are plenty of other talks to listen to that inspire people to delve into the minimalist lifestyle. I’m just being real with you; Graham’s is what got me going.

I had never heard of the idea “minimalism”. I mean, I was only a college student, and I really didn’t own that much anyways. But I also wasn’t the most organized person in the world, nor am I now. Yet, messy places drive me INSANE. Go figure living with a mother who is borderline insane when it comes to cleaning (seriously, cleans every day just to have someone come once a week and help her clean even more), led me to be unable to handle my own lack of organizational skills.

That’s when minimalism stepped in and saved my life.

Whoa, dramatic. Stahp that. But for real, minimalism was a blessing to find out about. That drawer full of “things” that you just have no idea where it all should go so you through it all into one place because knows when you may use it again one day? Say goodbye to that, but better yet, be excited about saying goodbye to that drawer.

After watching Graham’s video about minimalism, I went on a rampage through my apartment and got rid of about 1/2 of everything I owned. I felt oddly free. Who knew that getting rid of some of my stuff would make me feel this kind of happiness?

From then on, I was addicted.

But Minimalism isn’t just about getting rid of all the things in your house that you don’t use and forcing yourself from buying any kind of impulsive purchases.. it’s (as cliche as this sounds) a way of life. I’ve managed to find ways to adapt minimalism into my life in more ways than just my purchasing habits, though I’ll of course talk about those too.

Minimalism: in the closet

Ever heard of a capsule wardrobe? How about buying “timeless” pieces? Maybe you’ve heard of the KonMari method that’s been a hot topic for housewives everywhere?

Adopting a minimalist style has given me the freedom of being able to pack up all of my stuff into a suitcase, backpack, and carry-on and move where ever I want in the world. I can’t explain enough how great this feeling is. Living a nomadic lifestyle, with no “home” to leave my extra clothes at, required that I downsize, like a lot. Luckily I had already begun the process before my first initial move to China.

Now, two years later, I love love love being able to wake up, decide what I want to wear between a select few items in my closet, and get on with my day. I no longer spend 20-30 minutes trying to make the right outfit decision. Life has become so much more simple.

I even wrote a post about my favorite minimalist wardrobe essentials here, or you can check out the lovely blog by Olivia, Simply Liv, where she goes more in depth about a minimalist wardrobe and even offers a free guide for getting started!

Minimalism: in what you eat

HOLD UP. I’m not about to tell you that you need to eat the most minimal amount of food possible. Seriously, I’m not crazy. But have you ever gone into your kitchen and realized that you have all these ingredients and frozen food, yet you have nothing to eat? It’s ok, I’m totally guilty of this too! I truly believe this is another example of consumerism rearing its ugly head into our lives. Do we really need over 30 different kinds of spices? or 10 different flour choices? When your kitchen is organized, with basic ingredients that you can use in plenty of different recipes, cooking becomes much easier!

And trust me, anything I say about making cooking easier has been tried and tested because I am really unskilled in the kitchen. I avoid difficult recipes, with too many ingredients, like the plague.

Plus, the more simple a recipe is, the more likely it is to be healthier for our bodies! Our bodies crave simple, wholesome, and nutritious food; minimalism is a great way to ensure that.

Minimalism: in the home

Aside from wardrobe, the second most popular realm for minimalism is definitely interior design.

When I was growing up, my parents had a lot of decorations around the house (this was their pre-downsizing days). I remember having all of these different little knick knacks that were placed all around our living room to make it have this specific design “theme”. We even had a life size chimpanzee (I named him Bob) that held a bucket on top of its head in which a huge ivory candle perched. Yep, a purely decorative, life size chimpanzee. Yea, it looked cool, but I don’t even want to know how much it cost. Even worse is that the beautiful ivory candle perched inside the bucket on Bob’s head.. we weren’t allowed to light it. The candle sat pristinely untouched. Never to be enjoyed. Purely decorative within the bucket on top of Bob, the purely decorative chimpanzee.

Ok, enough about Bob. I’m sure you get my point. Instead of decorating your home or apartment with a plethora of useless decorations, consider going with a more minimal style, a few pieces here and there, and save your money for something that really matters! I suggest travel because, you know, #adventures and stuff..

Minimalism: in your digital space

So this one you may not have thought of before. I actually struggle/am in the process of this myself. Keeping our digital space minimalized.

So here’s an example: you’re scrolling through your phone trying to find that one photo you took 3 weeks ago while you were walking to work that reminded you of your friend, who you wanted to show when you saw her. So you’re scrolling; through the collection of endless screen shots of quotes, hundreds of differently angled selfies, and the 5 different versions of a single photo that seems to accumulate each time you try and edit a photo for Insta. Then, you finally find the picture but realize you just awkwardly spent way too long silently scrolling through your phone for one single photo.

Sadly.. I’ve been there too.

Or even worse, the dreaded “Storage Full” Alert. The struggle with the storage capacity on our phones is truly real.

So why not minimalize our digital space too? When I switched laptops, I made it a goal to downsize the amount of files and photos that I had on my laptop. I sure as hell don’t need several blurry photos from my trip to Zion. I also have the habit of taking the SAME PHOTO twice, you know, just in case there was some unexpected problem with my photo? (I actually have no idea why I do this).

I’ve managed to somehow re-accumulate a lot of clutter on my desktop and within my different folders, but it’s a lot better than the mess that had occurred after six years of owning my old laptop. I also enjoy the simplicity on my phone as well. It can already be a bit annoying using our tiny phone screens; having what is only necessary and what we actually use is a huge headache saver.

Minimalism: in your fitness routine

So let’s start with the whole disclaimer thing.. I am not a personal trainer. I am not certified in any way. The closest I ever came to anything, in that sense, was when I worked the front desk of a women’s pilates studio.

So this is just my opinion.

Staying fit and finding a workout always felt like a constant struggle for me. It’s probably safe to say that it does for you too. So why make it complicated? Bodyweight exercises are priceless. When I do exercise routines like these, I don’t need any weights or machines. I can’t explain enough how ideal this is for someone who travels! I don’t have to worry about getting to a gym or some sort of studio to get my fit on. I can simply do a YouTube video from my lap top and BAM! Done. Or, if I am really feeling it, I can add in some weight by holding onto a water bottle, book, or anything heavy. Not to mention a chair can make plenty of workouts that much harder (think step-ups and tricep dips).

Minimalism: in your mind

I recently read a quote from an Insta friend. It talked about how everything that goes on in our minds, is a choice. Worry is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Stress is a choice.

In today’s society, for some extremely odd reason, we’re brought up to think the “real world” is some scary, busy, rollercoaster ride of a place that is inevitably going to cause us a lot of obstacles and hardships.

Damn, that sounds awful.

I truly believe this is all part of our mindset. Ever since I had all of my valuables stolen in China (seriously, everything I held dear to my heart. Post on this coming soon), I realized that I had a choice to feel the way I did in situations. Yea, I cried my eyes out for hours. But then I realized, what difference is me crying going to make? It won’t bring my stuff back. Crying will only cause me more pain. So instead of worrying and being upset about all of the problems this event was going to cause me and all the money I had just lost, I chose to set it aside until it was necessary for me to think about it.

Nowadays, I try to apply this to aspects of my life that would normally cause me a lot of stress. Instead of feeling like fitness is this awful chore that I have to do if I don’t want to be out of shape and “fat” (I cringe using that word), I think of exercise as an investment for my health and future. That, combined with doing exercises I actually enjoy, has made fitness such a better experience than it used to be.

So give it a try! When you approach something in life that you would normally stress over or would cause you a lot of worry, just breathe. Realize that you will get through it (because you’re a boss) and take it one step at a time.


Ever thought about adapting the Minimalist perspective  into your life? Let’s chat about it in the comments below!

How to apply minimalism in different aspects in your life. From a capsule wardrobe & a minimal diet, to a minimalist fitness & minimal interior design. This is great for learning how to live with less but experience more.


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Recent Comments

  • Amanda | Chasing My Sunshine
    04/06/2016 - 10:38 am · Reply

    I don’t know very much about minimalism, but I have been hearing the phrase thrown around a lot recently. The way you write about it makes it sound truly magical. I’m so glad I found your blog! I am going to be diving into some of your posts for sure! I love this post.

    • Kirstie Taylor
      04/12/2016 - 9:48 am · Reply

      Thanks Amanda! It’s a fairly new concept but it’s gaining a lot of traction for sure 🙂 I’m glad you found it helpful!

    • Kirstie Taylor
      04/12/2016 - 9:47 am · Reply

      Thanks! I’m glad you saw it because I completely forgot to tell you 😉 keep up the awesome work and I can’t wait to find out what these changes you’re making are!

  • rhonda
    05/28/2016 - 9:58 am · Reply

    I am trying to minimize but I also hang onto the stuff because I “am going to have a yard sale”

    • Kirstie Taylor
      06/10/2016 - 6:10 pm · Reply

      That’s a new one! But I totally understand.. Maybe you should set a concrete date for an actual garage sale 🙂

    • Vicki
      03/27/2017 - 10:19 am · Reply

      I do the same thing! Or I have all these ideas for things I’m going to repurpose, recycle, reuse! I haven’t done much of that yet either. I have the KonMari book and have cleaned out my closet and dresser per her instructions. Wow! What a difference that makes! And when I have only clothes/shoes that bring me joy or that I love, I always enjoy what I’m wearing. Plus, I don’t buy things unless I absolutely love them! Such a great way to live. I’m still working on minimalism as a lifestyle, and I feel lighter every time I donate a box at the thrift store!

  • Christine
    06/19/2016 - 8:46 pm · Reply

    Great article! Thanks for the inspiration on my journey to downsize. Glad I found your blog.

  • ky
    07/11/2016 - 2:05 am · Reply

    How do you approach acquiring sentimental souvenirs from your travels? Do you just bypass them all together? Applauding you either way:D

    • Kirstie Taylor
      07/12/2016 - 5:06 pm · Reply

      Hi Ky!

      I will sometimes buy little things if I know I already need them. For example, I broke one of my two coffee mugs a month ago so while I was in Tunisia I bought a new one! I also never pass up a pretty bracelet 🙂 For me, I can never have too many bracelets!

  • Evelyn
    07/22/2016 - 5:46 am · Reply

    Hey Kristie! I just stumbled across your blog and thoroughly enjoyed this post. We’ve been minimizing for 5 years now and constantly looking for the minimum level in many areas. You’re right that minimalism can enhance all aspects of life! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • Kirstie Taylor
      08/11/2016 - 10:35 am · Reply

      That’s great you’ve been working on it for the past five years! It definitely is a process. It’s like adapting to the new lifestyle.

  • Alyssa
    07/27/2016 - 12:58 am · Reply

    Great post 🙂 “Minimalism is a blessing to find out about”… I love that! It’s so true. My journey was similar to yours, I got wowed by the concept and did a major purge of my apartment, but very quickly it went beyond being just about stuff and started to affect other areas of my life. I dress more simply now, my hair and makeup routine has been pared down, I travel more… but all the changes trace back to discovering minimalism 🙂

    Cheers, have a great day! – Alyssa

    • Kirstie Taylor
      08/11/2016 - 10:37 am · Reply

      That’s so cool it was simply that you were wowed by the idea too. I guess that in society today, people always thinking of getting more than having less. I’m really glad you enjoyed it!

  • Moa from Sweden
    08/02/2016 - 3:04 pm · Reply

    This post is so inspiring! ? I’ve been wanting to “go minimalist” for a while now but I have come actoss two problems. The first is that I have a really hard time throwing away gifts, espessially from my family, how do u deal with that? The second is that I live with someone who is not that big on the whole minimalist living idea(he’s very fond of all of his gadgets ☺️) but his clutter is really bothering me, got any advice? Xoxo

    • Kirstie Taylor
      08/11/2016 - 10:40 am · Reply

      I totally understand about the gift thing. For me, I would do the 1 year rule. If I haven’t used it in 1 year (or if it is decorative, enjoyed it) then toss it. Unless you feel really bad, then you could just put it all in a box and have your space at least feel a bit less cluttered. As far as living with someone not into the idea, maybe you could try to help him adjust in baby steps. Or at least organize his gadgets better! That or make a powerpoint of all the great benefits from minimalism! Haha

  • Julie
    01/02/2017 - 8:31 am · Reply

    Just learning about Minimalism …
    I thought they were freaks who don’t shave or wear deodorant! All the while I was a borderline hoarder.
    I have moved my shit around more than I care to mention. Now I am embracing the Minimalist Movement.
    Thanks for the insightful article and helping folks Focus on what’s important… Not Stuff 😊

  • Jenny
    02/07/2017 - 12:36 pm · Reply

    I call myself a minimalist because I keep what is important to me in my life and get rid of the rest.

  • Jill
    02/08/2017 - 2:08 am · Reply

    I absolutely loved this article. I have heard this term before and I wanted to revisit it and delve deeper into the idea. Have been going through a lot of changes in life recently that have been causing a lot stress. Just the idea of downsizing my things terrifies me, but at the same time calms me and would help immensely, just wasn’t sure where to start. Thank you for sharing this article.

    • Kirstie Taylor
      03/23/2017 - 6:25 am · Reply

      I would really suggest giving it a try but a little at a time! Maybe one item a week to begin with. It should be a rejuvenating journey, not stressful 🙂

  • Kate
    03/23/2017 - 12:23 am · Reply

    Good article; short, concise, minimalistic.. ;). I have unknowingly been a minimalist since I was 12, and read a newspaper article written by David Little. He talked about how the things you own, end up owning you; your time, your space, your money, your sanity.
    I find the biggest obstacle in maintaining a minimalist home, is other people. I regularly have people comment on how little I have, or how I don’t like “STUFF”. I am surrounded by people who love their stuff, and think I’m deprived. I’ve been very firm about what I will keep, and as I’m a very blunt person, I have kindly explained that while I appreciate the thought behind gifts (Xmas and birthdays), I much prefer consumable, practical gifts (such as ebook vouchers, food and drink items, gift cards/vouchers for a fun experience, or items for my hobby) It’s paid off! For the most part, I no longer receive knicknacks, or clothing, or other items which are purely decorative.

    • Kirstie Taylor
      03/23/2017 - 6:24 am · Reply

      I struggle with the same thing! When I travel, people don’t understand why I don’t want to buy souvenirs to take home. Or people wonder why my apartment is so minimal. That is great to hear that people have finally started catching on that you prefer non-knickacky type of gifts 🙂

  • jobi marie
    10/11/2017 - 1:42 am · Reply

    Great article Kirstie! Reading ur blog indeed enlighten me…& i truly believe that Less is More. For the longest time, i thought i needed to be more organized..now i know i just needed less stuff…😊

  • Andrea
    12/18/2018 - 10:30 pm · Reply

    You blame capitalism for the desire to accumulate more and more stuff. It’s not capitalism (an economic system) that’ to blame. It’s materialism, insecure nature as human beings and social media that magnifies and distorts the images of peoples’ lives that is the problem.

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