Minimalism for people with extreme lifestyles


No minimalist wants to live a one-note life. In fact, many people’s motivation to downsize stems from wanting to do more, experience more, be more. But when you’re subscribing to a lifestyle that calls for living with only what you need and what you love, it can be difficult to reconcile the desire to have less with the desire to live more.

For example, Ariana of Paris to Go has a very small, lovely wardrobe. She posits that a few simple items will take care of almost any situation. I can’t find the post, but I recall her writing that plain cotton t-shirts and leggings are perfectly suitable for exercise—no need to buy specific exercise clothes.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about that. I’m training for a half-marathon, running four days a week. On days that I don’t run, I like to lift weights or take dance exercise classes. I also cycle with my husband when it’s nice out. Basically: I work out. (girllookatthatbody) And there’s no way I’m going to use my daily-wear shirts for running 10 miles or biking 20. I have nearly as many exercise clothes as I do daily-wear clothes; for my lifestyle and level of activity, that’s what I need.

In fact, there are lots of beloved hobbies that happen to require a lot of physical stuff: fishing, sewing, fixing up cars, woodworking, cake decorating, skiing, etc. As long as you’re keeping an eye on your stash and making sure you aren’t mindlessly collecting every little thing that happens to go with your hobby, there’s no need to worry that your lifestyle exempts you from minimalism.

Besides hobbies, there’s another element that sets some minimalists apart from others…well, the elements. I envy the minimalists who live in a fairly consistent climate, like Miss Minimalist in Seattle and Caroline of Unfancy in Texas. When you live someplace that doesn’t have extreme weather, it makes sense that it would be easier to maintain a smaller wardrobe, fewer weather-specific accessories (like umbrellas or beach towels or snow boots), etc. Alas, that isn’t the case here in KC and it’s not the case in much of the world. It would be nice to have just one coat like Miss Minimalist, but that’s just not practical where I live (I own four jackets that I love, plus a blazer and a loungewear sweatshirt).

What I’m saying is, don’t compare yourself to people who don’t live like you do. Comparison is the thief of joy, and it’s completely unfair to yourself. Minimalism isn’t about achieving the smallest number. You may never be like those people who live happily with 73 items or in a Tiny House on Wheels. Don’t focus on that; turn your ideals to living as large as you can. Pursue time. Time spent doing what you love. Time spent with people you love. Don’t waste that time by feeling jealous or inadequate. Don’t live someone else’s dream life—live your dream life. That’s how you’ll achieve your goals.


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