What Is The Difference Between Simplicity and Minimalism?

By Ray Arya •  Updated: 10/27/20 •  8 min read


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Simple living and minimalism, is there even a difference?

Both share numerous same characteristics that they can easily get lumped into the same category. But there are a few slight inequalities that we want to discuss in this article.

Simplicity focuses on the uncomplicated and uncompounded way of living. It does not necessarily aim to own as few things as possible but to use what you already have.

Minimalism, on the other side, is centered around cutting down the number of possessions to the bare minimum.

Or at least, that is what many people associate with both terms.

However, there is way more to both concepts than decluttering, getting rid of, minimizing stuff, living off-grid, and sustainability.

It should not be simplicity vs. minimalism. Adopting the principles of both lifestyles can lead to a meaningful, purposeful, free, and happy life.

Therefore the way to go is simplicity combined with minimalism.

So it is crucial not to get caught up in one or the other label but make use of the benefits of both worlds.

Now, let us get into the details.


What are the definitions of simplicity, simple living, and minimalism?

There is no one size fits all definition of simplicity or minimalism. The principles and qualities of both concepts blend in so many ways that it seems impossible to separate them.

We can agree on their very key message of pursuing a better life with less by reducing possessions, distractions, and complications.

However, with all the talk about minimalism and simple living on the internet, numerous interpretations can confuse.

Here are the interpretations defined by Wikipedia:

So, according to Wikipedia, it seems to be that minimalism concentrates on eliminating as much as possible to achieve the best output in space, design, art, and fashion.

No wonder minimalism often gets labeled as a style movement that implies cutting down to the bare minimum.

And simple living focuses on living without complications and also embraces the principles of minimalism. Confusing right?

So let me attempt to draw a fine line between minimalism and simple living for you so that you get a better picture of their principles.

After all, both have impactful concepts that deserve to name their qualities their own.

Is there a difference between simplicity and minimalism?

Both terms have similar principles and simultaneously implement each other.

So what is the difference between simplicity and minimalism? Are they not the same but only labeled differently? Do you have to choose between the two to be called one or the other?

And my answer would be a simple no. But I’ll get to that later. First, here are the main principles of both concepts.

What is a simple lifestyle?

Simplicity expels everything that causes complication. A simple lifestyle aims to step back from modernity and its continually changing standards, which only causes stress and discontent.

For most, it means living with what they already have. And to reduce the negative impact on the planet. Living simple also means to slow down and to appreciate the small things in life.

Frequently used words and phrases that are into simple living:

A simple life follow these principles:

Understanding that abundance is already here

Once we know that we don’t need to focus on material growth anymore, we can fully embrace what we already have. Our concentration can now go towards improving our physical and mental health and our relationships.

Taking care of what we already have

Having an abundant mindset holds us back from following the next possible fads. We don’t need to upgrade our lifestyle because we cherish the way we live and what we already have. We don’t replace things until it is required to increase our experience of comfort. Instead, we take care of our belongings and try to make them last as long as possible.

Living slow and more present

Inviting simplicity to our lives enables us to go slow and enjoy the present. The clock doesn’t matter because we don’t occupy ourselves with things to do, places to go, or experiences to have.

Honoring and preserving nature

Intending to live more naturally, we turn our backs from the chaos of the big city life with its destructive way of handling nature. We try to find ways to lower our impact on the planet by lowering our waste output, reducing chemicals and technology, and living with a smaller carbon footprint.

What is a minimalist lifestyle?

Minimalism is more than cutting your life tight until it fits into a tiny house or a backpack. This picture of a minimalist can turn people off. I can say that there is much more to minimalism than style.

The main principle of minimalism is to reduce unnecessary distractions, to find the right amount of things that you keep in your life.

The aim is to get rid of physical, mental, and digital clutter to live the best life possible. I see ending up with an organized, clean, and bright space as the by-product, but not as the ultimate goal.

Commonly used words and phrases that are into minimalism:

Everybody defines a minimalist lifestyle a bit differently. But we can agree on its intention to create more freedom, space, and time for the things that we value most. And when we focus on the action of living with less rather than on the label itself, then it becomes a beautiful approach to a minimalist lifestyle.

Therefore, minimalist living is as intentional as simple living. The interpretations are just slightly different.

For me, minimalism is all about these points:

Intentionality and mindfulness

I intentionally choose and promote things that I value most and getting rid of everything that distracts me from it. Further, I use my created space and time to become more mindful of my health, my surroundings, resources, and improving my relationships.

Freedom from possessions

I acknowledge that accumulating as much stuff as possible as modern culture wants us to doesn’t make me truly happy. I seek happiness in the detachment of the consumerism culture and embrace the freedom that comes with it.

Freedom to choose my path

In a fast-evolving world with its continuously changing modernity, I mindfully choose my own pace and don’t follow the next fad that may pop up. As a minimalist, I want to slow down life to be more present and enjoy the moments fully.

Freedom from stress, anxiety, and worries

Paring down everything that doesn’t make me happy enables me to free myself from unnecessary stress. With less material possessions, mental and digital clutter, anxiety fades. And knowing and protecting my values diminish my worries.

As you may have noticed, I haven’t mentioned style, design, or numbers of things you should own. For me, those words are just tactics but not the reason why I love living minimally. It is the why behind it that makes it such a powerful way to live the best possible life.

Embracing simplicity and minimalism in your life

The concepts of simple living and minimalism are both beautiful and practical. They both concentrate on making our lives better.

There are plenty of minimalists that embrace a simple life and quite a few followers of a simple life who are into minimalism.

Therefore, it is hard to separate both lifestyles from one another. But why should we anyway? Why choose between the two if they perfectly complement each other?

What you call it isn’t nearly as important as how you define it and what you do with it. So try to embrace both simplicity and minimalism, and reap the benefits of them all!

Bottom line: find out what is important to you, including things, tasks, and people, and get rid of everything else.

You might also like these posts:

Useful Tips How To Live A Minimalist Life

How To Learn To Live With Less For Beginners

Ray Arya

Ray is a frugal minimalist who loves to travel and live in his self-converted camper van. He writes about the benefits of downsizing, decluttering, saving money, building wealth, and the freedom that results from the power of less. Minimalray.com is for everyone who seeks a meaningful life and is committed to contentment.

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