Is Minimalism Overrated? Let’s Get the Facts Straight
Remember when having more meant, well, more?
However, the minimalist’s mantra has become: ‘Own less, live more!’
And if you read this article, you may perceive that everywhere you look, someone’s tossing out their cherished collections and trading in sprawling estates for tiny homes.
But is minimalism truly the answer to a fulfilled life, or is it just another trend, like frosted tips and low-rise jeans?
Therefore, in this article, I’ll unpack the big question without cluttering your mind: Is minimalism overrated or just misunderstood?
Stick around, and let’s get the facts straight.
What Is the Philosophy Behind Minimalism?
Minimalism is a philosophy that emphasizes living with less, not for the sake of deprivation but for the benefits of simplicity, clarity, and intentionality.
It’s not just about having fewer things; it’s about having more meaning.
And it’s also not about some type of justification for staying unmotivated to get out of poverty or a difficult financial situation, as some wrongly interpret being a minimalist.
So, let’s break minimalism down to its core principles…
The core principles of minimalism stripped down to their essence, are as follows:
Intentionality: Every possession, commitment, or action should have a purpose or value. If it doesn’t add value, why have it?
Simplicity: Focus on the essentials. It’s about clarity and eliminating excess to make room for what’s truly important.
Freedom from Materialism: Recognize that possessions don’t equate to happiness. Instead of seeking more, it’s about appreciating what you already have.
Quality Over Quantity: Instead of having a lot of things, it’s about having a few things of great value or meaning.
Living in the Present: By reducing physical and mental clutter, minimalism can help you focus on the now and be more present in your daily life.
Clarity and Peace: You can achieve a clearer mindset and a sense of peace with fewer distractions and less chaos.
Sustainability: Minimalism often leads to better choices for the environment, as reduced consumption means less waste and strain on resources.
Self-sufficiency: Depending less on external things for happiness and finding joy and contentment from within.
These principles are a foundation that can guide you toward a more conscious, deliberate, and meaningful life.
It’s not just about decluttering but about re-evaluating what truly matters.
Now that we have the minimalism principles out of the way let’s clarify the term “overrated.”
What Does “Overrated” Even Mean?
When something is deemed “overrated,” it is given more credit or praise than it deserves.
In simpler terms, it’s when people make a big fuss about something, and you check it out only to think, “Really? This is what all the hype was about?”
Essentially, the general opinion or value placed on it exceeds its actual worth or merit.
Now, the issue with something being overrated is that it’s a pretty subjective opinion.
What may be perceived as overrated for me may not be the same for you.
So, how can we bring a bit of objectivity to the table?
An analogy can help in this context.
Which one could that be?
The stock market or markets in general where a pump and dump scheme is done.
How does a pump and dump scheme work?
Well, there is, firstly, the pump phase.
Here, manipulators (or sometimes a group of them) begin “pumping” up the price of a stock, usually a “penny stock” (a low-priced stock of a small company).
They spread positive, often false, rumors to boost enthusiasm.
This can be done through bogus press releases, fake testimonials, or misleading information. They’re throwing a big, flashy party for the stock.
The modern version can also create hype on social media platforms, forums, or even through SMS and email campaigns.
That’s where a perception of something being overrated can occur.
Now, as a result, unsuspecting investors get lured by this positive buzz.
They start fearing missing out and buying the stock, which drives its price.
The manipulators’ stocks become more “valuable” as a result.
Next is secondly the dump phase.
Once the stock reaches a peak price (thanks to all the hype), the manipulators “dump” their shares, selling them off en masse.
This makes them a hefty profit because they bought the stocks at a much lower price.
Here’s the catch: The rapid selling causes the stock price to plummet. Those unsuspecting investors?
They’re left holding the bag, often with significant losses, as their newly purchased stock is worth much less than they paid.
A stock like that on a graph looks like this:
Now, how can we translate this to minimalism?
Well, if minimalism were overrated, it may look similar to a pump-and-dump stock chart.
No steady growth or equal interest in the topic over a long time, but a short burst of interest and then a free fall.
How can we check this? As you well know, minimalism is not a stock.
You can use a tool to measure interest over different periods. It’s called Google Trends.
This is basically where Google measures how many people type in a particular keyword into the Google search over time.
Based on this data, they can also extrapolate a bit into the future trend of the keyword, thus “Google Trends.”
But you can also get a glimpse at what is trending right now.
So, let’s check how the keyword “minimalism” fares on Google Trends.
Look at the graph below.
Now, does this look like a pump-and-dump chart to you?
I think not. It’s almost a steady trend, even slightly declining over five years.
Only between December 2020 and January 2021 did it look a tiny bit like a pump-and-dump chart.
So, minimalism is not overrated based on the definition of overrated and the available data.
Can a Minimalist Lifestyle Make You Happier? The Psychology Behind Owning Less and Living More
Let’s break it down without going too deep into the brainy stuff.
The link between a minimalist lifestyle and happiness has much to do with how our brains process clutter, material possessions, and life experiences.
When surrounded by clutter, it’s like having a thousand tiny voices screaming for our attention.
Our brain must process all of it, which can be mentally exhausting.
A study mentioned in the Harvard Business Review confirms that physical clutter competes for our attention and can decrease performance and increase stress.
So, you want to minimize the clutter and give your brain a serene meadow to frolic in instead of a bustling marketplace.
Having fewer things means each thing often has more value—emotionally, financially, or functionally.
Instead of five shirts you like, you have one you adore. It’s like having a pizza with your favorite toppings instead of a random buffet.
Every item we own and every commitment in our lives is a choice we have to make.
Do I wear this? Do I use that?
With fewer things, there are fewer decisions.
This reduces decision fatigue (yes, it’s real), freeing up mental energy for the stuff that matters.
It’s like deciding if you’re a cat or a dog person.
Fewer possessions can mean less time cleaning, maintaining, and organizing.
This can translate into more free time and less obligation.
Imagine a weekend without the weight of “I should be sorting out that garage.”
Research has shown that people get more happiness from experiences than from material possessions.
So, instead of buying that expensive watch, perhaps a trip or a class would bring more long-term joy.
Less shopping and consumption mean more savings.
And more savings can translate to fewer financial stresses.
Imagine being able to do a little happy dance because you’re not dreading those end-of-month bills.
Minimalism promotes intentional choices.
This can bring clarity, leading to a deeper understanding of personal values and a life that aligns more closely with those values.
To summarize, minimalism isn’t just a design aesthetic or a fleeting trend.
It’s a mindset that helps strip away the unnecessary, leaving space for happiness, joy, and meaningful experiences.
So, can a minimalist lifestyle make you happier? A lot of psychology (and many happy minimalists) suggests it can.
Why Is Everything Going Minimalist? Is It?
If you have this question, you may feel like you see sleek designs, empty spaces, and people bragging about owning only three pairs of socks everywhere you turn.
And is everything truly going minimalist?
Well, as with too much generalization, it’s mostly not true.
So, let’s take a whirlwind tour through the minimalist surge.
Why may the “world” embrace minimalism?
In the digital age, we’re inundated with information, options, and, well, stuff.
Between the pings of social media notifications and online sales luring us in, there’s a collective feeling of “It’s too much!”
Minimalism offers a way to hit the pause button and breathe.
As people become more aware of the ecological footprint, consuming less becomes appealing.
Every item not purchased is one less item ending up in a landfill.
Economic downturns in recent decades have made some people rethink their spending habits.
Why buy ten when one good quality item will do?
With Marie Kondo and her “Does it spark joy?” mantra becoming a sensation, many people got a simple, accessible introduction to decluttering and, by extension, minimalism.
More people are working remotely, and the digital nomad culture means a life on the go.
It’s hard to lug around a 50-piece shoe collection when hopping from Bali to Berlin.
Since our understanding of mental health grows, we realize our environment plays a big part.
A cluttered space can translate to you having a “cluttered” mind.
Minimalism, in turn, can feel therapeutic.
But is everything going minimalist?
While minimalism is a growing or at least a steady trend (see the earlier screenshot), not everyone’s on board.
Some argue that minimalism is a privilege available only to those who have the means to choose it.
Others genuinely enjoy the richness and detail of design, lifestyle opulence, or possessions’ sentimental value.
Moreover, while the minimalist trend is significant in art and design, other styles like maximalism (embracing opulence and grandeur) also make waves.
So, in conclusion, while the interest in minimalism isn’t broken, it’s far from everybody and everything turning minimalist.
As I said earlier, this would be an overgeneralization.
“Bottom Line: So, Is Minimalism Just a Trendy Fad?”
The Short Answer: No, minimalism isn’t just a trendy fad.
Since you read this article, you may perceive it as the “latest thing.”
But the facts I outlined earlier speak against it being a fad.
Its roots go deep, and its principles resonate with timeless human desires.
Minimalism has its origins in various cultures and philosophies.
Consider Zen Buddhism emphasizing simplicity or even the ancient Stoics who championed living with what’s essential.
It’s not some newfangled idea; it’s been around the block.
As society grapples with the consequences of unchecked consumerism (both environmentally and mentally), minimalism emerges as a counter-response.
It’s a call to evaluate our priorities.
It’s about life design, not just closet design.
Not every minimalist lives in a white-walled room with one chair.
Some just choose to be more intentional with their purchases.
It’s adaptable, which makes it more than a passing trend.
At its core, minimalism taps into a deep human desire for clarity, purpose, and authentic happiness.
As long as these aspirations exist, so will the allure of minimalism.
However, like all things popular, there’s always a risk of commercializing or diluting it.
Some brands might slap the “minimalist” label on a product just because it’s in vogue.
So, while the minimalist aesthetic might be trendy, the philosophy and lifestyle have longevity.
This article has been reviewed by our editorial team. It has been approved for publication per our editorial policy.