Some of the unnecessary stuff I love owning, packed and ready for my upcoming move.

Today, I am putting my foot down. I’m putting it down, heel first, right onto the neck of this bullshit elitist attitude surrounding minimalism. Over the past year, more and more people have been jumping on this bandwagon, making lists of the crap they own and throwing out things to shorten that list and patting themselves on the back for having fewer possessions like it somehow makes you a better person if you give up your coffee maker and second pair of jeans.

It doesn’t. But more importantly, being a minimalist won’t make you happy.

Well, maybe it will make you happy - but this isn’t something that will make everybody happy. I don’t hate the minimalist lifestyle, and I definitely think there are some awesome people out there who choose to live without tons of possessions. I just keep seeing, more and more, people standing on a soapbox and proclaiming that this is the only way to live, as though if you aren’t a minimalist, you’re shallow and you’re materialistic and you will never be happy.

Some minimalists preach about a simple kind of life, with fewer distractions and a focus on experiences rather than owning items. That sounds rad. The problem is that this idea of minimalism has been corrupted to become this whore of an idea that the less stuff you own, the happier you will be. What a stupid notion. Now granted, some people are happier if they don’t own anything. If that is you, awesome. Love your life with everything you own strapped to your back like a turtle, travel the world, and tell me amazing stories about it.

But for 99.999999% of us (it’s a very scientific process I used to come up with that number, called common sense. Try it sometime.), minimalism isn’t some kind of road to happiness. You stuff probably isn’t the source of your unhappiness. After all, as any minimalist will tell you, it’s just stuff. What’s sucking people into this minimalist fad is the fact that we all have unnecessary crap in our lives that actually is good to let go. Yes, if I clean out my files and get rid of absolutely everything I don’t need, I will be more organized and, thus, happier. Yes, if I throw out all the clothing I never wear, I will have an easier time seeing what is in my own closet and be happier. And so on and so on.

But that isn’t minimalism. That’s clutter control and organization in your life.

Except you do these things, getting rid of the crap you absolutely don’t need, and suddenly you do feel happier. So you take it a step farther, listening to one of the ten thousand minimalist “gurus” out there and getting rid of other stuff because you think it will make you feel even happier. But will it really?

I like my unnecessary pair of neon pink and yellow running shoes, not because it is essential to my life that I have them, but because they make me smile when I wear them. I like my German display stein because it reminds me of my heritage. I like my ten thousand kitchen gadgets because cooking is fun for me and makes me happy. I like my junk drawer because I feel prepared to tackle problems, whatever McGuiver-type of items I might need. I like my photo albums because looking back on old memories is important to me. I like owning things.

And maybe you do too. You work hard for your money, so stop believing that the only good use for your paycheck is some kind of meditation hiking trip. Maybe an Xbox or fondu pot or new pair of jeans will make you happier.

The key is to learn that it isn’t the thing that is making you happy - it is the feeling. A dress makes me feel beautiful, so possessing it makes me happy - but if I lost it, that would be okay, because I can get another dress that makes me feel beautiful or I can get a new haircut that makes me feel beautiful.

If you’re truly happy living a minimalist lifestyle, that’s awesome. Do what you do, man. But you’re not better than me and my houseful of unnecessary items. You don’t have to pity me, and you don’t have to preach to me or to anyone else that we’re living our lives the wrong way. We’re just different people, and that’s okay.

And if you’re looking for happiness? Well, just know that minimalism is only one of the paths you can consider. Nothing is this world will guarantee you happiness, so before your sell all the things that are important to you, make sure that’s what you really want to do.

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