I recently explored the differences between simplicity and minimalism, but I want to take the conversation a step further. I argued they are indeed mutually exclusive and both existing in their own domain–the physical and the emotional. I think your life can feel simple without necessarily pursuing minimal possessions. On the other hand, you can be a minimalist but maintain a complex mentality. One is a mindset, while the other is an extension of your physical space. Moreover, depending on the person, they can both hold their own unique definition.
Regardless of these nuances, I feel a special synergy when both lifestyle elements exist in tandem. This got me to wondering what exactly it is that I was moving towards in my pursuit of these ideals. Was living minimally and experiencing simplicity part of something larger? It was in this reflection I identified the concept of essentialism (and now why I write about it here). For this is where my physical and emotional worlds combine.
Sometimes I focus on creating a capsule wardrobe while other times I develop a meditation routine. One may seem more in the realm of simplicity while the other in the realm of minimalism. Wherever it falls in this diagram, both move me towards the idea of my essential life. The experiences that make me feel my best self. I long described my journey to others as an attempt to live more in harmony with my true self. I think essentialism does a great job of encapsulating that idea.
Occasionally simplicity and minimalism come across as austere or depriving. Why have less when I can easily have more? Why put in the extra effort of simplifying my life when it’s enjoyable enough? Sometimes you want to just let sleeping dogs lie. At first is seems as though these lifestyle shifts are more detrimental than beneficial. But isn’t that what growth is? Isn’t that why mastering skills and challenging the status quo doesn’t reflect the norm? Yes there will be periods of difficulty and change, but there are immensely positive side effects. Essentialism does a good job of bridging the gap between negative misconceptions and progressive change.
When I conceptualize the word essential in either a physical or emotional space, it brings me excitement. It really does. It reminds me that in pursuing those core aspects of my being, that I’m more of my true self. I don’t view it as having just enough. I view it as having all I need. That’s truly a matter of perspective. I don’t see failed relationships as a mark against my past, I see essential relationships built on intentionality and purpose. I have a community that supports me and accelerates my journey. Seeking a simpler life doesn’t mean I have it easier than others, but it does mean I spend more time grappling with the important aspects of who I am. The superfluous worries of life–especially things I can’t control–take a back seat.
That’s essentialism to me.