Over the past years, decluttering has become crazy popular, not least thanks to the ‘decluttering muse’ Marie Kondo. Recently, more keywords popped up. Minimalism, essentialism, sustainability, and simple living are some examples. It seems an increasing number of us Westerners search for alternatives to our greatly consumption-based lifestyle. Thus, new principles and philosophies are discussed, and new trends are born.
But what are these keywords, trends, and philosophies all about? What do supporters of these lifestyles think we should do? And how does the ‘less, but luxe’ idea fit in with these topics?
There’s no easy and short answer to this. But for a start, a few thoughts on …
Thanks to Marie Kondo, decluttering has become a tremendous hype. From my experience, learning to let things go is the first step on our way to a simpler, less overwhelming life. The question is, does decluttering lead to another kind of throwaway mentality? Undoubtedly, we can easily get trapped in a vicious circle of buying excess stuff and throwing it out again. However, if done correctly, Marie Kondo’s method for tidying up provides a great learning opportunity. You’ll get the chance to discover what you really need and love. And as a result, you’ll make far better (buying) decisions.
I believe investing in quality rather than quantity – which is the core principle of ‘less, but luxe’ – supports sustainability and ultimately creates less waste. In my opinion, this mind shift is more than overdue. Day after day, we buy unnecessary things that bring us just a glimpse of joy before we throw them out. We dump tons of food, clothes, electronic stuff, and more. We deliberately waste resources and harm our environment. Yes, I know, saving our beautiful planet seems to be a too big goal. Still, every contribution counts, doesn’t it? And initiatives to be happy with less clearly work in the right direction.
Various interpretations of what simple living involves can be found on YouTube, Instagram, or Pinterest. Some supporters of this lifestyle base it on simple, clean interior design. Others on sustainability, self-care, and awareness. The primary goal, it seems, is to conquer physical clutter and mental overwhelm. And to create calm, relaxing spaces – not only in your home but also in your head. Very inspiring!
There are countless ways to simplify life and as many definitions of what it really means. My interpretation is that decluttering and organizing is more focused on things, whereas ‘simplify’ can be applied to tasks, practices, methods, and processes. In other words, making better decisions on what you do and how you do it. I continuously strive to simplify repetitive tasks, for example. They should be ‘no brainers’ and done with the least amount of effort.
Is it a philosophy or a trend. I think both. An increasing number of people seem to be attracted to the principles of minimalism. Understandable, it’s a cluttered, noisy, stressful world today. Many of us crave a way to escape. However, some supporters of a minimalist lifestyle, at least from my point of view, take it to the extreme. Their credo is, the fewer, the better. The Minimalists – who I’d call the early birds of the trend – point out that minimalism is very individual. I think they’d agree that not plainly reducing the number of your possession to a minimum must be the goal. But owning the right amount of the right things. Moreover, minimalism, so I understand, goes far beyond your belongings. It’s all about making conscious decisions on what – and who – you invite into your life. And this is definitely my top take away from minimalism.Minimalism, so I understand, goes far beyond your belongings. It’s all about making conscious decisions on what – and who – you invite into your life. Click To Tweet
Digital spaces have become the extension of our physical world. We spend half of our time in front of our computer or phone. Digitalization is also the primary reason why our lives become increasingly complex and, in a way, complicated. Our physical world can be challenging enough. However, this already overwhelming real world more and more expands into the digital world. Both worlds continuously demand our attention. And this causes even more stress. Applying the principles of minimalism to the digital world seems to offer a way out of constant overload.
At the opposite end of the spectrum – if you’d like to compare it with (extreme) minimalism – is the consumption-based lifestyle. Hyperconsumption was surely exciting at first. But then, many of us noticed a certain heaviness that comes with all that stuff. We also experienced that you can’t buy happiness. And we became aware that, if we continue like this, we’ll eventually lose a lot more than we gain. And now? Does this mean we all have to strip down our lives to the bare essentials, those required for our basic survival? Aren’t we no longer allowed to enjoy owning unnecessary but beautiful things? No, I don’t think so. I’m convinced a – conscious and joyful – middle path exists between (extreme) minimalism and over-the-top consumption.I’m convinced a – conscious and joyful – middle path exists between (extreme) minimalism and over-the-top consumption. Click To Tweet
With his book Essentialism, The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, Greg McKeown inspired countless readers to get less important things out of the way and concentrate on what’s essential. The principle of essentialism unquestionably helps to adjust your focus. I like the idea of doing less. A mindfully chosen ‘less’. In contrast to trying to do (and be) everything. I agree with McKeown’s approach to doing the right things right (= increasing effectiveness and efficiency). But personally, I wouldn’t apply the principles of essentialism to all areas of my life, as he suggests. Undoubtedly, my life could be simpler, less complicated, less overwhelming. But would there be enough room for what I enjoy and love? Or just for daydreaming? I’m not so sure.
Less, But Better
The less, but better principle has its origin in design. Dieter Rams, a German designer at Braun, paved the way for a new, clean aesthetic. Most famous, his simplified record player with a clear plastic cover – a design classic. Rams captured his design criteria with three German words: weniger, aber besser. In English: less, but better. His goal basically was to get rid of unnecessary things and create clean, no-frill designs. The beauty is that this kind of design is immune to trends. Thus it’s sustainable. Items created by following this principle are still ‘in’ after decades. Design and products are made to last and not to be consumed and thrown away.
And what about …
Less, but Luxe
After going through a very long phase of exhaustion and overwhelm, I searched for a guideline to create a quality life with less. My first step was to declutter and simplify my life. Ultimately, this made room for inviting more of the good things in.
But how to know what to focus on, what to invest in?
I found the answer in applying a universal rule to all areas of my life. And this rule is to always choose quality over quantity.
Today I invest mindfully in fewer but high-quality products and activities (= less, but luxe). This can be the books I read, the clothes I buy, or the mindful minutes I spend sipping freshly brewed coffee from my favorite mug. The point is to choose all these things and activities well. And to appreciate them, no matter if they’re big or small.
My intention was to find a warm, inviting, and luxurious version of ‘less’. Luxurious in a very personal sense. And I found it. I believe the principles of ‘less, but luxe’ bridge the gap between stripping down your life to the essentials (= make it simpler) and creating a life that brings you the most joy (= make it better).
What I suggest is, let us be less obsessive about how much we own. Let us stop consuming and accumulating so much. But, let us not take it (again) to the extreme. I believe that there’s a middle path. A path that’s based on minimalism and the principle of ‘less, but better’. But one that also allows us to enjoy what we have and pursue – a beautiful home, a quality wardrobe, fulfilling activities, rewarding connections, and so much more.
There’s no prescriptive approach on how to achieve this. On the contrary, the strategy must be very individual. The outcome depends very much on the person who follows the ‘less, but luxe’ path. However, my goal is to share my learnings and inspire my readers to find their personal version of a beautiful everyday life with less.
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And there you have it. My thoughts on minimalism and other keywords and trends. Do you have a different view on these topics? Or, do you think I should add something to my list? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!