is minimalism practical

Is Minimalism Practical, or Is My Closet Just On A Diet?

As many folks declutter their lives, the question arises: Is minimalism genuinely practical, or is your wardrobe just crying out for a juice cleanse? 

In today’s article, I will explore whether minimalism is the ultimate life hack or if our sock drawers are just on a self-imposed diet. 

So I will discuss…

  • What does “practical” even mean in the first place
  • What is practical minimalism
  • Six science-backed benefits of minimalism
  • 7 Typical minimalism myths busted

 

What Does “Practical” Even Mean?

Let’s start by being on the same page and defining what “practical” actually means.

Why?

You may associate practicality with something other than me.

“Practical” has many different meanings.

It can mean to be concerned with actual use or practice. 

So, it indicates something grounded in real-world application rather than theoretical or idealistic concepts. 

For example, having practical knowledge means having skills or knowledge derived from experience.

It can also mean being useful and sensible.

Something practical is useful and effective in particular situations or for a certain purpose. 

It offers a tangible benefit or solution.

Another meaning of “practical” is being inclined toward action.

A practical person typically focuses on action, results, and solutions rather than getting caught up in abstract thinking or unnecessary details.

When something is deemed “practical,” it’s considered efficient, applicable, and relevant in a given context.

The above I would consider the core meaning of “practical.”

However, like many words, its nuances can shift slightly depending on context. 

Not as important as the earlier definition for this article, but for the sake of completion, here are some additional meanings of “practical”:

In design contexts, “practical” might refer to choices prioritizing function over form

For instance, a practical piece of furniture is comfortable and durable, even if it might not be the most stylish.

“Practical” can also describe someone basing decisions on pragmatic considerations

Such a person tends to be down-to-earth and focused on the tangible aspects of life.

In educational contexts, a practical can refer to the hands-on component of a course, where students actively apply what they’ve learned. 

This is seen in phrases like “practical exams” or “laboratory practicals.”

In some contexts, it can imply a focus on material or financial gains instead of intellectual or abstract pursuits.

It can also mean a direct method or approach likely to produce results without unnecessary complications.

Finally, in professions like law or medicine, the term can also relate to the actual practice of the profession, as opposed to the theoretical study of it.

Since you are on a website about minimalism, let’s declutter all the definitions of “practical” I’ve just given you a bit and stay with the essential one I will use in the remaining article.

Let’s agree that “practical” means something that offers you a tangible benefit or solution grounded in real-world application.

That’s it.

So now let’s get to the question of…

 

What Is Practical Minimalism?

From the above, we can derive that practical minimalism is using minimalism principles in such a way that they can offer you a tangible benefit or solution grounded in real-world application.

 To recap, here are the principles of minimalism:

  • Intentionality (purpose of commitment, action, or possession)
  • Simplicity (focusing on the essential)
  • Self-sufficiency (appreciating what you already have and depending less on external things for happiness)
  • Living in the present (focusing on the now)
  • Clarity and peace
  • Sustainability (better environmental choices)

If we now make the above minimalism principles practical, you get…

Purpose Over Possessions: Practical minimalism is not just about owning a specific number of items or living with the bare minimum. 

It’s about ensuring that everything you have serves a purpose and adds value to your life. If it doesn’t, it’s probably not necessary.

Functionality: A practical minimalist will prioritize functional items that enhance daily life. 

For instance, owning a high-quality, versatile jacket that can be worn in multiple seasons rather than several single-purpose ones.

Quality Over Quantity: Practical minimalism emphasizes investing in fewer, high-quality items that last longer rather than accumulating many lower-quality ones. 

This can lead to long-term savings and reduced waste.

Simplified Living: This involves decluttering but also simplifying daily routines and habits. 

It’s about finding efficient ways to complete tasks and reducing unnecessary steps or activities.

Mindful Consumption: Practical minimalism encourages conscious purchasing decisions. 

This means considering if you need something before buying it and being aware of the impact of your consumption, both environmentally and financially.

Mental and Emotional Clarity: While physical decluttering gets much attention, practical minimalism also encompasses clearing mental clutter. 

This could involve reducing digital distractionssetting clear personal and professional boundaries, or prioritizing self-care.

Flexibility: Practical minimalism understands that everyone’s “essential” is different. 

It’s not about adhering to a strict set of rules or comparing oneself to others but about finding what works best for your individual life and circumstances.

 

6 Science-Backed Benefits of Minimalism

is minimalism practical

Imagine your brain as a closet. 

If you’re like me, it’s stuffed with thoughts like, “Why did dinosaurs not like fast food?” (Because they couldn’t catch it, of course). 

But let’s talk about how clearing out the closet – or adopting practical minimalism – has some pretty snazzy benefits. 

And don’t just take my word for it. I will make sure they are backed by science.

Less Stress, More Zen: Clutter isn’t just an eyesore. 

In 2011, neuroscientists utilizing fMRI techniques and other physiological methods discovered that decluttering both home and workplace environments led to improved concentration, enhanced information processing, and a boost in productivity (source).

So, a tidy space, a tidy mind.

Improved Focus: According to Utah State University, decluttering can enhance your focus and processing of information. 

Ditching those extra knick-knacks might sharpen your noggin.

It’s Good for Your Wallet: Minimalism often means buying less. 

This might sound like common sense rather than science, but researchers have pointed out the psychological traps of consumerism

David G. Myers, one of the researchers from Hope College, says we’re richer but not happier. 

Maybe even a tad grumpier.  

If you dream of dollar bills, you’d better have a load of them. 

And if you’re loaded, you’re nearly as happy as folks who don’t give a hoot about bling. 

And guess what? 

People who go bananas over stuff often think the next iPhone will magically fix their love life or make them popular. Spoiler alert: It won’t.

In the article linked above, other researchers believe our love for shiny objects stems from past insecurities. 

So, maybe that’s why your friend bought that flashy car after their goldfish died.

Better Mental Well-being: According to this study, people with cluttered homes full of unfinished projects are more likely to be depressed and have higher cortisol levels. 

So, less clutter, happier you.

Eco-Friendly Vibes: While it’s more a logical chain of thought than a single study, buying less stuff means less waste and a smaller carbon footprint. 

Better Decision Making: Decision fatigue is a thing.

You can make better decisions by reducing your choices when you apply minimalist principles to your life.

Too many choices can bamboozle our brains, making decision-making harder. 

 

7 Typical Minimalism Myths Busted

Several myths about minimalism may be in your mind, making it appear impractical.

So, let’s bust these myths.

Some of these tall tales might’ve been whispered at parties or posted on social media, but let’s set the record straight, shall we?

 

Myth 1: “Minimalism means you can only own a specific number of items.”

Minimalism isn’t about hitting an arbitrary “you-can-only-own-30-items” rule. 

It’s about intentional ownership (see the minimalism principles earlier). 

If 100 books bring you joy and you read them, that’s minimalist if they serve a purpose in your life.

The same is true if it’s just five books.

 

Myth 2: “Minimalists hate color; everything should be white and grey.”

Minimalism isn’t a strict color palette. 

It’s about simplicity and intention. 

Love neon pink or sunny yellow? 

Go for it. 

It’s your space; if that color brings joy, it fits right into your minimalist vibe.

 

Myth 3: “Minimalists are just lazy folks who don’t like shopping.”

This may be true for me, the shopping part, not the lazy part, as when I go shopping, it’s more like a special forces search and destroy mission (getting in and out fast).

However, minimalists aren’t anti-shopping. 

They’re pro-intentional shopping. 

It’s more about purchasing things that add value and less about amassing stuff for the sake of it.

 

Myth 4: “Minimalism is only for the rich.”

This myth might stem from the fancy minimalist homes showcased in magazines and, as I already pointed out in this article, from social media influencers. 

But at its core, minimalism is about living with what you need and love, regardless of income. 

Adopting minimalism can be a money-saver.

 

Myth 5: “You can’t be a minimalist if you have kids.”

Ever heard of toy rotation? Or multipurpose furniture for kids? 

While it might require some creativity, having kiddos doesn’t exclude you from the minimalist club. 

It’s about teaching them values and intentions from a young age. 

You may also want to read my minimalist family blueprint article about this topic.

 

Myth 6: “Minimalists don’t form attachments to things.”

It’s not about avoiding attachments but understanding the value and purpose of things and codependencies. 

Holding onto grandma’s locket because it holds sentimental value? That’s okay. 

Keeping a broken toaster “just because”? Maybe it’s time for a rethink.

 

Myth 7: “Minimalism is just a trendy fad.”

While the concept might be getting more spotlight nowadays, cultures worldwide have practiced minimalism in various forms for centuries. 

It’s not a fad; it’s almost a timeless philosophy.

 

Conclusion: Is Minimalism Practical?

You can’t categorically say that minimalism is practical or impractical.

Why?

As I discussed earlier, there are science-backed benefits to applying minimalist principles.

However, it depends.

It depends on how well you apply and align the earlier-mentioned minimalism principles with your individual life situation, so by doing that, they can offer you a tangible benefit or solution.

If they do, minimalism is practical for you.

 

 

 


This article has been reviewed by our editorial team. It has been approved for publication per our editorial policy.