Minimalism vs. Restrictionism

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Over the past few months, I’ve been doing quite a bit of cleaning. I’ve sold a few things, given more away, and donated the rest. It was all in an attempt to remove the clutter of items I no longer need. The apartment was especially packed with electronics. Over the past few months, I’ve managed to sell off:

  • a MacBook
  • an iPod
  • an iPad
  • a Kindle
  • two heart rate monitors

My electricity bill dropped overnight plus I was able to make some cash in no time.

The crazy part is that even with dumping all of these items, I haven’t missed them one bit, which makes me wonder if I needed them in the first place.

Minimalism has become quite the hip thing to do recently. While it seemed cool to have a lot of “stuff” before, now, it’s almost cooler to have less items around the house. Minimalist web design is taking off. Minimalist workflow is become more and more prevalent. Even entire sites dedicated to minimalism are popping up everywhere.

On my own movement to “less”, I’ve found that minimalism has become just as addicting as modern consumerism. Getting rid of something offers consumers almost the same rush that they had when they bought the item in the first place (particularly if you sell it for cash). As such, the more stuff I get rid of, the more stuff I look to sell/toss/donate.

As with any exploration, it’s important to remember why you started in the first place and tame urges. It’s easy to get lost in minimalism and jump the boat straight to restrictionism. In my mind, they’re completely different animals.

Restrictionism is not allowing yourself to have certain items.


Minimalism is a targeted approach to reducing distractions and clutter.

The distinction is incredibly important. It’s easy to get caught up in the former when you’re trying to focus on the latter. The result is a toxic environment where you can’t bring yourself to buy anything. Whereas minimalism is meant to eliminate distraction, users get so caught up that the thought of less is actually all consuming.

I don’t pretend to be a master in the art of less. To be honest, I really don’t want to be. Between minimalism and modern consumerism, there exists a middle ground called realism (lots of -isms here) where things and actions each have a purpose. The point of minimalism in my opinion isn’t to get rid of stuff and live in a box. That’s completely unrealistic and ridiculous. You don’t need to wear the same pair of jeans all month because you got rid of all of your clothes. The point isn’t to deny yourself the luxuries of our modern lifestyle.

Instead, the point of minimalism is to make sure everything has its purpose.

As I’ve been combing through items looking for things to sell/get rid of, I keep coming back to the same questions: Does this thing have a purpose? If I have two items that do the same thing, which one can do it better?

Minimalism isn’t meant to make you miserable. Quite the opposite. It’s meant to simplify your life and removing extraneous items that are zapping your energy or happiness. Don’t force yourself to dump things you love. Instead, make sure everything in your life has purpose. If it doesn’t, it can probably go.

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