One of the big myths of minimalism is that everything is black, white, and shades of gray.
It’s easy to make that assumption if you spend any time on Instagram. A search for “minimalism” will bring up top posts like the following (these were real top posts at the time of writing this):
That second post is actually from the account @black, which says, “Black is more than a color, it’s a lifestyle”:
And, of course, some of the biggest minimalism accounts hold this standard as well:
So, what’s going on here?
The Minimalist Aesthetic vs The Minimalist Lifestyle
The Minimalist Aesthetic
This is where some people get tripped up with minimalism. Like the images above, you may see luxury architecture, luxury automobiles, and luxury consumer products and clothing when you do a search for “minimalism.”
I tend to group all of these things into the minimalist aesthetic — the look of minimalism; not necessarily the lifestyle.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with the minimalist aesthetic (unless, of course, it’s just showcasing stylized consumerism and excess). Even the majority of my wardrobe is black, gray, and shades of blue. There’s a lot to be said for timeless style.
But, like many things, the look is currently a trend or fad. If you’re only focused on the look, you’ll miss out on the real life-changing benefits of the minimalist lifestyle.
The Minimalist Lifestyle
To be a minimalist, you don’t have to prescribe to a lifestyle, wardrobe, or Instagram feed that’s only grayscale. There are many different flavors of a minimalist lifestyle.
Fumio Sasaki shows a more radical minimalism in his book Goodbye, Things.
Joshua Becker is known for rational minimalism. His definition in his eBook Simplify is, “Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from it.”
Live a Vibrant Life in Color
Minimalism is freeing. The entire point of minimalism is to remove the unnecessary.
If you check out the majority of the top slow and simple living leaders, you’ll see that their feeds aren’t filled with black and white photos. You’ll also notice that they have many things in common: a lot of time spent outdoors in nature, time with family and friends, and time spent doing what they love. They are living life in color!
There are people who like the minimalist aesthetic but don’t live a minimalist lifestyle. And, there are people who live a minimalist lifestyle who could care less about the aesthetic. Some may do both.
Which are you?
Also published on Medium.