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The Minimalism Paradox

How quality and expense have sparked conversation in the minimalist community

Still ocean
Photography by David Hoefler

Minimalism is sometimes viewed as the rich’s poverty. People see minimalism as white, spacious rooms with few overly expensive items. This idea has caused an uproar in social media. Minimalists were often viewed as liars; they preach to purchase fewer unnecessary items, yet own a number of overpriced possessions. The lifestyle is intentional and encourages to keep things that only spark joy. What if the things that make one happy are a pile of things that are only used once in a while? Thus, the minimalism paradox is born.

Some people wanted to spend all their hard-earned money on expensive items because they believe that the higher the quality, the higher its price. This may be true at times, but not always. Price is determined by several factors such as manpower costs, manufacturing expenses, raw materials value, shipping and packaging costs, and so on. High quality does not have to equal higher price, although high quality items can indeed last a lifetime and would be a great way of saving money. While one of minimalism’s fruits is to fill your piggy bank, the same is true for businesses that want to fill their revenue with fewer items sold.

The so-called minimalists are telling us to keep the things that spark joy. If it is our collection of books, keep them. If it is a room filled with our old vinyl records, keep them—even if these things just sit there and wait for decomposition. Some people want to keep things to be reminded of their legacy, while others want to look at their accomplishments and the result of their sacrifices. These things may be useless for now, but in due time it will become a part of the limited-edition shelf and can be sold at a higher price. If that is one’s goal, it would be much better.

More stuff that sparks joy means more room to occupy. But if one wanted to keep all these things, then it should be neatly stored the minimalist way. If one’s goal is to live intentionally, then that should be essentialism—a different minimalism definition.

Everything boils down to the definition of minimalism, and everyone is their own dictionary. The pioneers and famous people of the minimalism lifestyle have their own different takes on how to become your own minimalist. Choosing what items to own, whether for sparking joy or for necessity’s sake, is still in the hands of all of us.

I, myself, was been introduced to minimalism a few years back and felt that it was already part of me. Poverty during the young age taught me to be happy and content with the things I currently own. Living in a third world country is pain manifested, but being thankful of what we do have and thinking that we are still blessed would replace the longing for the things that we do not yet have in hand.

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