Extreme Minimalism

by Inês Morais
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We’ve already talked about what Minimalist is about in previous articles. We’ve gone through its influence in music, visual arts, fashion, and, ultimately, ways of living. The minimalist lifestyle focuses on having fewer things, which is the gateway to a fulfilled life. Regarding such, we’ve also seen that Minimalism isn’t dogmatic – it’s actually rather flexible. Minimalism is adaptable to each person’s decisions. Whereas some find it preferable to declutter partially, getting rid only of things that are merely filling up much-needed space, others take the extra step. This takes us to the main point of the article: Extreme Minimalism. 

It’s important to first understand that there are different ways to practice the extreme minimalist lifestyle. For the sake of clarity, let’s say there is Extreme Minimalism and “Extra-Extreme” Minimalism.

What is Extreme Minimalism? 

extreme minimalism
Photo by Andrej Lišakov

We can look at the first as being on the opposite side of the hoarder condition. Extreme minimalists are people who live with very few objects – the ones they need and/or bring them joy (according to Marie Kondo’s method). Generally speaking, extreme minimalists opt to live with few but specific clothing items that match easily with each other and are devoid of graphics, few home appliances, no physical books or CDs, and few, or even no, decorative objects at all. No furniture is also a common feature of this lifestyle – no dining or coffee tables, no chairs, no couches, no beds, no wardrobes, and no cupboards. 

“Extra-Extreme” Minimalists are more intense. They live with a handful of few objects, varying from 15 to 30. This lifestyle depends, of course, on the type of life an individual has. Owning such few items sounds impossible for most of us – and it is. In order to embrace “Extra-Extreme” Minimalism, there doesn’t seem to even be the possibility of living permanently in a house and performing daily tasks such as preparing homemade meals. “Extra-Extreme” Minimalists are, thus, people who don’t spend much time in the same house and don’t prepare meals at home. Not staying in a house for a long time is the first step towards this kind of minimalism because there is no necessity – nor way – to own basic things to live. These minimalists are people that travel a lot. They spend a few time in each country, which leads them to gradually get rid of most of their stuff. A lot of the times, they end up owning only a dozen items involuntarily because it makes it easier to move around.

Extreme Minimalism – why?

Such as (just) minimalists, extreme minimalists seek release from the weight of commodities. This lifestyle is, for some, the answer to finding tranquility, clarity, and inner peace. Extreme minimalists feel freer because owning fewer things means having less responsibility, less dependency, and more serenity. Yet, unlike Minimalism, extreme minimalists don’t focus as much as on owning meaningful things but achieving peacefulness by avoiding indulgence as much as possible. 

Extreme minimalists often combine their lifestyle with meditation, yoga, or other types of practices to achieve the desired mindfulness and peaceful quietude. 

This lifestyle is great for those who want to take a big jump and intensify their minimalistic ways.  

How to engage in Extreme Minimalism?

Unless you’re about to become a frequent traveler, the only way you can be the type of extreme minimalist that owns 15 items is to constantly borrow things from people around you. 

Nonetheless, you can still be an extreme minimalist and own more than a few couple of objects. 

To become an extreme minimalist, first, you must know that you shouldn’t declutter in one take. Clearing out every room in your house, every drawer, every cabinet and wardrobe, and your mind in a row can be exhausting and will most likely lead you to give up on the change.

Take a look at our guide on how to become a minimalist as an example of organization. It’ll make the process easier and more rewarding. 

Here are a few steps on how to engage in Extreme Minimalism:

  • Reduce your wardrobe to a few clothing pieces. Keep only clothing items and accessories you use regularly. Extreme minimalists tend to own the strictly necessary (for example, three shirts, two pairs of pants, two coats, and two pairs of shoes);
  • Keep all your rooms and compartments organized. After using something, put it back in its place – it’ll help you keep your space organized and it will facilitate tidying and cleaning processes;
  • Clean regularly. Keep a cleaning schedule, for example.
  • Shop mindfully. Keep your shopping to bare minimums, but when you need to buy something, keep in mind the quality, sustainability, usefulness, and, of course, your budget;
  • Change your diet – eat more meals based on raw foods. 
  • Manage time for less stress and more freedom.
  • Value and live by frugality. 
  • Use apps to donate/sell the items you don’t need.
  • Try tranquilizing practices, like praying, meditating, being in contact with nature through hikes, and so on. 
  • Keep lucid and sober as to maintain mental balance.  

Isn’t Extreme Minimalism just too much?

Photo by R_ R

The beauty of the modern world is that people are free to choose the lifestyle that better suits them. If some people are comfortable with living in this intense type of minimalism, they should pursue what makes them more complete. Nonetheless, extremism isn’t positive. Too much of something can never be beneficial. Everything – from perspectives to lifestyles – should come in measured doses so there’s balance. 

Minimalism is about decluttering so one finds freedom in owning less stuff. However, there isn’t a maximum number of items one should own that can dictate if you’re a minimalist or not. Places devoid of expression don’t constitute minimalism. Minimalists have goods that represent one’s passions and interests, meaning that they have a solid place in one’s mind and space.  If Extreme Minimalism would only bring you stress for the pressure it may cause, go for the moderate version of minimalism.

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