Minimalist Philosophy: Wise Words from a Reader

One of the reasons I love writing this blog are the comments I get from my readers. They’re a wonderful source of inspiration, and a great opportunity to learn how others incorporate minimalist principles into their lives.

Yesterday, I was thrilled to receive an incredibly insightful comment on one of my older posts. I know that many of you do not receive the RSS Comments feed (you can subscribe by clicking this link), and would likely never see it. Therefore, I’ve decided to highlight it in today’s post, as I want to make sure that nobody misses it.

I think this comment beautifully expresses the essence of minimalist living, and can serve as inspiration to us all.

Jason Edwards writes:

Dear Miss Minimalist,

I have found your site interesting and it is excellent that you are spreading the message of simplicity, which is an important message to pass on to others. By living simply we have a positive effect on the planet. Having few possessions and only accumulating what is necessary saves the planets resources.

I can carry everything I own. I have a few changes of clothing, laptop, two pots, bowl, spork, futon and flask. I like sitting on the floor to eat and eating fruits, nuts, vegetables, and rice (vegan diet) .I like to eat food as it is, so I can taste the varying flavours without smothering food with sauces, spices, and manufactured sugars. I am not concerned with eating something different everyday and can quite happily eat oats in the morning, rice and chickpeas for lunch and a big bowl of vegetables in the evening for months. Many indigenous tribes in the Amazon eat the same staple foods on a daily bases and before air travel most people in the world ate local staples. I think people have become used to having so many choices be it food or possessions, that it distracts them from the simple things and experiences like tasting the flavour of a nut without covering it with salt.

The nice thing about a bare room is that you begin to notice the space around you in a physical sense and you begin to notice other things like the changing sunlight during the day. Your window becomes like a landscape painting where you notice the changing colours of the flora. Many possessions tend to tie one down mentally and physically- seeing to much permanence in inanimate objects rather than being aware of the vitality of the outside world of nature. I think it also tends to make people more detached from nature and they forget how dependant we are on nature for our survival. They forget to make the connection between a table and a tree or a piece of metal with the hard work of mining it and the resultant effect it may have on ecology. Things are taken for granted and it is assumed that nature has an endless supply of resources. When you own just a few things these things are valued and have more meaning.

Every time we go out and buy something new we take from nature. If we live simply with few things and don’t accumulate anything we do not need it saves time, money, stress, and the planet without having to do very much.

Industrialization has taught many to seek experience through objectifying experience. A simple example is photography, a useful medium in one sense but a burden in another. Photography is a good medium for communicating an idea or recording an important event, however it can also stop us from experiencing events fully because we are so caught up in objectifying an experience through a photo rather than using our other senses like smell or our ability to transfer an experience to others orally by telling a story.

We in developed countries can make the choice to live simply to help others in developing countries so they can also have the choice to decide how to shape their lives. This website is excellent and I will also spread the word by creating further links to create and encourage a larger community of people to live simply who I hope will do the same.

P.S Don’t feel to burdened by aesthetics. I had the same problem while I was at art school.I would spend a great deal of time looking for the perfect second hand minimalist table or lamp shade, but then I realized the most elegant thing is to own nothing.

Jason, thank you so much for taking the time to write such a thought-provoking comment! It made my day, and reminded me of how wonderful it is to follow a minimalist path. As you point out, minimalism not only helps us live more mindfully; it also helps us conserve the resources of our planet, and protects the interests of those in developing countries. It brings to mind the famous quote by Gandhi: “Live simply so that others may simply live.”

I particularly love the final line: “…I realized the most elegant thing is to own nothing.” What a beautiful summary of minimalist philosophy!

{If you’d like to read more about minimalist living, please consider subscribing to my RSS feed, or signing up to receive new articles by email. Also, if you don’t want to miss wonderful comments like this one, be sure to subscribe to the RSS Comments Feed.}

22 comments to Minimalist Philosophy: Wise Words from a Reader

  • Thanks for passing that along. It’s always nice to get a little infusion of philosophy. So many times, I just *feel* like keeping it simple, but I don’t always stop to really put into words my reasons for doing so. . .

  • What a beautiful comment! Miss Minimalist, it’s probably because you write such valuable content that you inpsire comments such as these!

    It’s exactly words like that that remind me why I’m here in the first place. Wouldn’t it be great if the minimalist message spreads to as many people as possible? If we could all follow Ghandi’s words, I would die a very happy person. Thank you!

  • Dawn

    What a well written comment. This is a great site to help stay on the path of minimalism and Jason summed it up beautifully. Thank you for sharing

  • That’s beautiful. Thanks for sharing :)

    I like how he linked minimalism and simplicity back to how we affect the environment. Very true.

  • indy

    I read alot of mnmlst blogs and notice that it seems there is a pervasive subculture of veganism throughout. Can anyone tell me why? Im just wondering i thought it was interesting, for my family is meatatarian (grassfed-local)+ local veg from freezing/canning. I guess it seems that a few of the other blogs really feel that moving towards vegan diets is a sign of mnmlism whereas for me, streamlining the supply chain is my method of mnmlsm. just my observation.

  • Thanks for the great ideas. :)

    I think its important to note that minimalism is not asceticism and denying desire. I interpret minimalism as sharing, focusing on what makes us happy, and recognizing material wealth as inferior to emotional health. :)

    Cheers,
    Logan.

  • Frances

    What a fantastic blog! I love “the most elegant thing is to own nothing!” I also used to fixate on good design but have got rid of a lot of my “good design” things now. I completely agree with Jason’s philosophy. Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do and why we want to live like we do.

  • Michelle

    Indy, I think you’re right with your observation. Most minimalist bloggers do seem to be veg*n, but I think whatever you decide is minimalist is fine for you! I’m also an omnivore, and I try to eat locally (rather than exotic vegetables from a long way away).

    As for “the most elegant thing is to own nothing,” I think it depends on each of us. I like a minimally-decorated life, but I do life to sit in comfortable chairs and have an appropriate wardrobe for the life I lead. It’s kind of the reverse of that old saying “he who dies with the most [least?] stuff wins.” None of us “wins”, we just need to lead the lifestyle that we want, without being suckered into the unthinking mass consumption which pervades Western society.

  • miss minimalist

    @Simple in France, Minimal Student, janet, Dawn and Aspiring Minimalist: I agree, a reminder like this is wonderful motivation to continue on a minimalist path!

    @indy: Minimalism seems to go hand in hand with eco-awareness and Buddhist philosophy, so that may explain some of the veganism.

    @Logan: I love hearing everyone’s different interpretations of minimalism, and how they apply it to their lives.

    @Frances: I still appreciate “good design” but don’t feel like I have to own it. :-)

    @Michelle: Absolutely, I think minimalism means living with what’s *just enough* for you.

    • Tara

      “I still appreciate “good design” but don’t feel like I have to own it.”

      I wish more people would understand this. You can enjoy an object without actually possessing it; in fact, you might enjoy it less after the purchase. I love window shopping, but the moment I actually have to buy something it becomes a chore, a burden. You have to clean it and maintain it and rearrange it and buy matching items for it and do this and do that and… ugh! I appreciate stuff much more when its on display in a store.

  • Social comments and analytics for this post…

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  • Thank you for sharing this comment! Minimalism is more about what is “just right” for you than it is about “how low” one can go–at least for me. That said I agree that “the most elegant thing is to own nothing” in most cases.

    For me if I had to leave quickly I would grab my laptop and a couple changes of clothes and not think much (if anything) about the rest. Others would ditch the laptop and grab their photo albums or whatever while some would probably burn up in the house trying to decide what to take.

    This isn’t a path of everyone, but it is the most elegant path I have discovered–for me at least.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • […] Minimalist Philosophy: Wise Words from a Reader: One of the reasons I love writing this blog are the comments I get from my readers. They’re a wonderful source of inspiration, and a great opportunity to learn how others incorporate minimalist principles into their lives. Yesterday, I was thrilled to receive an incredibly insightful comment on one of my older posts. I know that many of you do not receive the RSS Comments feed, and would likely never see it. Therefore, I’ve decided to highlight it in today’s post, as I want to make sure that nobody misses it…{read more} […]

  • Phylicia

    Very inspiring and beautifully written.

  • I adore Jason’s comment. I remember reading it last time, but it is nice that through your “a year ago” posts we are able to touch back on issues and maybe even take something different from it this time around. Or simply be reminded of something that resonates with us. As a legally blind photographer, the only difference I feel from what he said is regarding photography. Whilst I indeed remind myself to focus on the other senses as well and just living that moment, for me photography is also a way to explore my surroundings and discover something new or to portray my perception of the world to loved ones. I too think his last sentence is just exquisite.

  • Tina

    We folded our dining room table down as far as it would go. Most of our folding chairs are at my son’s house. I keep thinking how much more I can get rid of. Empty space is seductive.

  • Tina

    Just gave away another bag of clothes. There is another pile of books and magazines ready to go to the public library. I have some beads from a broken necklace of my Mom’s I want to restring with some other beads I got at a rummage sale. I volunteered at a kids art program this afternoon. I can keep busy and happy with no environmental impact at all.

  • Tina

    I got involved in a large community art project. I want to do more large projects and less things that will just end up being recycled. I am using the art supplies I didn’t give away.

  • I am teaching a class in making jewelry from found objects, drinking straws, paper, buttons, junk mail, scraps of fabric and paper. I get broken necklaces at rummage sales and reuse the beads. Buttons come from torn clothing. The string is dental floss.

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