The Insider's Guide to the Dark Heart of Minimalism

What is life as a minimalist really like?

I feel a responsibility to prepare you for what you may have to deal with if you continue down the minimalist path.  It won't all be roses.

Minimalism is freedom.  It's clarity.  It's energy, time, and resources to spend on what you believe is important, rather than wasting your life trying to be the person with the most toys.

darkness and moonlight

But minimalism has a dark side.

Minimalism is life-enhancing, but counter-cultural.  Here's what could happen:

  • You're going to get to know local charities, consignment stores, and maybe the dump too well as you clear out your clutter.
  • Some people will accuse you of being "trendy."  Others will wonder what the heck a minimalist is.
  • You'll have to figure out what to do instead of shopping.  Some of your friends may think you're weird if you suggest taking a walk together, going on a picnic, visiting the community art show, or doing volunteer work for a cause you care about.  They might be surprised if you invite them to your house for coffee or an evening of board games. 
  • Your family may harass you for saying you don't want anything when all of the obligatory gift-giving occasions roll around.  They may decide you're no fun on holidays or your birthday because all you want to do is eat some good food and spend time with them.
  • When you go to other people's houses, you might start fantasizing about helping them get rid of their clutter.
  • People who see you often might eventually notice that you always wear jeans or khakis or solid-color tee shirts or some other "uniform," or they will wonder why you seem to have only one purse.  However, if you have half a dozen cute handbags or you like to wear multiple earrings or several bracelets they might accuse you of being a hypocrite, because "that's not very minimalist."
  • You will get strange looks when you turn down promotional swag at conferences or sporting events.  People won't understand why any sane person would turn down a free mug or tee shirt or set of coasters or whatever.
  • If you are usually calm and not rushing around like a crazy person, some might accuse you of being lazy or unambitious.  But if you spend several hours focused on one important task they might call you obsessed.
  • If you don't immediately whip out your phone every time you have to wait for a few minutes, people will wonder what it is you're trying to prove.
  • If you try to find a solution or point out something positive when your companions feel like ranting about the state of the world, they will call you a Pollyanna.
  • If you have only one car or move to a smaller house, people will think you're poor.  If they're swimming in debt and have no savings, they'll imagine that you are too.  If they're dissatisfied and always wanting more, they'll figure you do too and just can't afford it.  It won't occur to them that you are in the opposite situation.

stars and light
As a minimalist you won't go with the flow of our culture, and sometimes that might be a bit uncomfortable.  People may wonder why you don't buy more, do more, work more, and hurry more.  Your feelings of contentment will baffle them, and they might feel judged even if you're not judging.

It takes some grit to be a non-conformist.

But who wants to be "normal?"  As author Dave Ramsey says, "The goal is not to be normal, because normal is broke."  Normal is crazy busy, in debt, and drowning in clutter.

Minimalism is a tool that can help you get out of that trap and fill your life with what you truly value.  It isn't meager – it's enriching.

Maybe you'll be an example of someone whose life is better because of minimalism.  If you gain more energy, peace, purpose, and satisfaction, the changes you've made are going to be appealing to others.

It might not be so dark after all.

My newest book, The Minimalist Experiment: Fun and Easy Ways to Unlock Change, is now available on Amazon* in paperback and ebook editions.

Big changes come from tiny steps taken over and over.  The 27 thirty-minute activities and 9 try-it-for-a-day challenges in The Minimalist Challenge help you investigate simplifying your life in six areas:

  • physical clutter
  • digital clutter
  • your mindset
  • your schedule
  • your finances
  • your personal well-being
Go ahead and try something you might not otherwise do!

* This blog is reader-supported.  When you buy through my links, I may earn a small commission.


  1. I enjoyed this post, especially the part about wanting to declutter other’s homes!


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