What Does Minimalism Mean?
If you’re looking for a comprehensive list of all things minimalist, you’re in the right place!
We’ve compiled 105 terms, concepts, principles, and quotes to help you better understand minimalism.
With this list, you’ll be able to curate your own unique version of a minimalist lifestyle.
Let’s jump right in..
The Minimalist Handbook
Here are the basic principles of minimalism. A minimalist lifestyle will be guided by many, if not all, of them.
The idea of giving equal attention to all aspects of life; health, finances, relationships, personal development, and so on.
The thoughtful process of limiting/avoiding waste or excess, and achieving the maximum output from the minimum amount of effort.
Some things in life are essential. This concept warns of simplifying or reducing them. Minimalism can be taken too far.
An approach that takes each facet into consideration when making a decision or change, seeing the interdependence of its parts.
This principle reminds us that minimalism can be expressed in countless ways. There is no perfect formula, everyone is unique.
This is the technique of focusing yourself towards your goal or objective; the process of planning and executing your actions.
This is the concept of avoiding excess or extremes. It is the process by which you maintain balance in life.
The idea that each item or skill you possess serves a purpose. It focuses on utility and function before form.
The act of arranging or ordering things from higher to lower value; be it time, possessions, relationships, and so on.
11. Progress, not Perfection
The concept that the journey is just as important as the destination. Each step forward is a success in itself.
12. Quality over Quantity
An approach that prioritizes owning or acquiring less items of higher quality instead of multiple items of a lower quality.
Keeping things simple, rather than complicated. This leads to having more personal freedom, less distractions, and living a simple life.
Something not affected by time. A piece of clothing that never goes out of style, or fundamental wisdom passed down.
15. “Minimalism is a tool to eliminate life’s excess, focus on the essentials, and find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.”
16. “Minimalism is the constant art of editing your life.”
17. “Minimalism is the pursuit of the essence of things, not the appearance.”
These are practices that encourage a more simplistic lifestyle, which aim to produce a more fulfilled life with less stress.
18. Ancestral Living
The idea that society has advanced faster than we could adapt, and by returning to our roots, well-being can improve.
19. Community Currencies
The practice of keeping capital within a local community, be it through bartering or simply making and buying things locally.
20. Digital Minimalism
Applying the principles of minimalism to our digital technology, including breaks from screens and limiting the time spent consuming media.
Gradually moving away from the ‘rat race’ and prioritizing leisure time, focusing on self-fulfillment, and deepening our relationships with others.
The concept of restraining the money you spend through efficiency, avoiding impulse purchases, and not falling prey to marketing/advertising.
A lifestyle of self-sufficiency that often includes farming, animal husbandry, and renewable energy, typically on acreage in a rural setting.
24. Simple Living
This is an expansive category that includes many voluntary practices which simplify one’s lifestyle to avoid materialism or reduce stress.
25. Tiny House Movement
A social movement that encourages the downsizing of your living space, both for the financial savings and reduced environmental impact.
Simple Living Quotes
26. “The more simple we are, the more complete we become.”
27. “The ability to simplify means to remove the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.”
28. “Life is lived in the moments of simplicity.”
These are ideas and lifestyles that encourage a more active and intentional approach to the way you live your life.
29. Blue Zones
Inhabitants in these regions have the longest lifespans on earth. They focus on community relationships, physical activity, and clean eating.
30. Community Gardening
Parks or gardens that have communal use or ownership, created for the purpose of food production, aesthetics, or land conservation.
31. FIRE Movement
Acronym for Financial Independence Retire Early, and is a lifestyle movement whose goal is maximizing savings for an earlier retirement.
This is the Japanese concept of living with purpose, having clear direction in life, and enjoying a sense of meaning.
33. Intentional Community
These are planned communities that are designed for social cohesion, where the residents have similar values and often share responsibilities.
34. Intentional Living
A concept of living a lifestyle that is lived with purpose, and designed in accordance with your values and beliefs.
The practice of bringing your attention/awareness into the present moment, without judgement, and seeing things as they truly are.
36. Nomadic Lifestyle
A lifestyle that involves frequent travel or relocation, with minimal possessions, either for new experiences or lower cost of living.
37. Slow Living
A lifestyle that encourages a slower pace to everyday life. It is a blend of simple & intentional living and mindfulness.
A lifestyle that emphasizes self-reliance, and puts a focus on being prepared for a variety of natural and man-made disasters.
Intentional Living Quotes
39. “Intentional days create a life on purpose.”
40. “Intentional living is the art of making our own choices before others' choices make us.”
41. “Live less out of habit and more out of intent.”
This section features many concepts and ideas for living a life that is in harmony with the world around us.
42. Circular Economy
An economic system that attempts to limit or eliminate waste, done via re-manufacturing or recycling, repair or refurbishment, and sharing.
43. Deep Ecology
An environmental philosophy that places value on all resources and living beings, seeing the interdependence of ecosystems, and improving society.
A local community that has been designed/formed with the goal of becoming more socially, culturally, economically, and ecologically sustainable.
45. Ethical Consumerism
A social movement that supports small or local manufacturers who respect workers and the environment, and boycotts those who don’t.
46. Frugal Innovation
The process of applying the principle of frugality to engineering and manufacturing, with the objective of serving the developing countries.
A term of Japanese origin, roughly translated as “What a waste!”, used to encourage people to ‘reduce, reuse, and recycle’.
48. Off-grid Living
A lifestyle that is designed to exist without reliance on public utilities, and is often a necessity in remote areas.
This concept is a preference on the ease or ability to maintain or repair a product, instead of replacing it.
50. Sharing Economy
This is a socio-economic system built around the sharing or ownership of resources, which tends to expand access to markets.
51. Slow Fashion
This is a concept in fashion that advocates for a more localized and eco-friendly approach to the manufacturing of clothing.
52. Sustainable Living
This is about creating a lifestyle that is in balance with the world around you, and reducing your ecological footprint.
53. Transition Towns
Similar to ecovillages, transition towns are communities being set up to increase self-sufficiency, use renewable energy, and become economically sufficient.
54. Zero Waste
This is the principle of waste prevention/elimination that puts a focus on redesigning products and manufacturing with fewer resources.
Sustainable Living Quotes
55. “The first rule of sustainability is to align with natural forces, not try to defy them.”
56. “Sustainable living meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
57. “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.”
Art & Design
These concepts are of minimalism as expressed through the arts. A concept or principle is included for several different disciplines.
58. Brevitas (speaking)
A manner of speaking that uses the absolute minimum amount of words to express an idea. It is about being brief, concise, and eliminating redundancy.
59. Concision (writing)
A principle in writing that seeks to eliminate unnecessary words, and convey meaning in a brief and succinct manner.
60. Feng Shui (design)
A Chinese practice that seeks to orient physical structures (and their interiors) so the occupant lives in harmony with their environment.
61. Flat Design (graphic design)
A style of two-dimensional graphic design that uses simple elements & typography, flat colors; all while maintaining a responsive visual appeal.
62. Less Is More (architecture)
A minimalist style of design that includes only the necessary elements; often using right angles, lighting, and a modern aesthetic.
63. Microhouse (music)
A sub-genre of electronic dance music with minimal vocals that replaces drum sounds with clicks, glitches, or other sound samples.
64. Monochrome Painting (art)
A type of art (done in a single color) that uses shape and texture to express meaning, rather than colors.
65. Slow Cinema (film)
A style of film-making that uses long continuous shots, often using little or no narrative, that intends to promote contemplation.
Art & Design Quotes
66. “The principle of true art is not to portray, but to evoke.”
67. “Our opportunity, as designers, is to learn how to handle the complexity, and to realize that the big art of design is to make complicated things simple.”
68. “An interesting plainness is the most difficult and precious thing to achieve.”
These are some of the minimalist terms relating to your home, possessions, and the personal living space that you occupy.
69. 100 Thing Challenge
A challenge to reduce your personal possessions down to 100 items, made popular by Dave Bruno in his book (2010).
70. Capsule Wardrobe
A collection of timeless, staple clothing items that can be worn in many different combinations, while remaining small and compact.
The general concept of preferring quality over quantity (i.e. reducing your cutlery set down to 2-3 quality multipurpose knives).
73. Home Edit
A Nashville consulting firm that uses functional systems to reinvent traditional organizing, and merge it with design and interior styling.
74. KonMari Method
A method of cleaning and organizing, created by Marie Kondo, done all in one shot, rather than little by little.
A systematic approach to arranging and storing your possessions. This approach will help you keep things orderly, functional, and coherent.
This is the concept of sorting items, like with like. It is usually a precursor to consolidating, decluttering, or organizing.
77. Staging Area
This is a place where things are temporarily stored, before reaching their final destination. (It is often used while parsing.)
The process of transforming seemingly useless materials for another purpose. (Things like ‘reclaimed lumber’ or donating clothes to the needy.)
Home/Living Space Quotes
79. “Have nothing in your house that you do not find to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
80. “The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.”
81. “The space in which we live should be for the person we are now, not for the person we were in the past.”
This list of entries has been drawn from many sources, including: philosophies, different types of government, private enterprise, and culture.
82. Classical Liberalism
A political ideology that seeks a more minimalist approach to governance, leaving the individual largely responsible for their own well-being.
83. Conscious Capitalism
Popularized by John Mackey, it is a business philosophy that seeks to benefit all company stakeholders, not just the owners.
84. Conscious Consumer
Someone who is mindful of their purchases, and considers all of the following: its price, usefulness, quality, and environmental impact.
Based on teachings from Epicurus. Its goal is absolute peace; complete absence of mental, emotional, and physical distress or need.
It is the idea of having a happy life, only much deeper; living a life that is fulfilling and worthwhile.
Of Danish/Norwegian origin, it means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people.
This is the concept of using your abilities to their full potential to reach your goals; leading a life well lived.
89. Slow Education
A philosophy of education that puts greater emphasis on learning the curriculum to a greater depth, than on standardized testing.
A philosophy that encourages acceptance of things as they are, and using self-control as a means of overcoming destructive emotions.
A political ideology based on the principles of self-ownership and non-aggression, which believes in self-governance through voluntary cooperation, not coercion.
92. World Happiness Report
An annual report that quantifies and then ranks the national happiness of each country using various quality of life factors.
93. “Our souls are not hungry for fame, comfort, wealth, or power. Our souls are hungry for meaning.”
94. “Until we make the unconscious conscious, we will be dictated by it and call it fate.”
95. “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”
This final section has been included to contrast the previous sections, since maximalism is seen as the antithesis to minimalism.
96. Conspicuous Conservation
The act of supporting environmental causes or purchasing environmentally friendly products for the sole purpose of signaling virtue or status.
97. Conspicuous Consumption
The act of purchasing high quality or luxury items for the sole purposes of displaying one’s wealth or social status.
98. Conspicuous Leisure
The act of engaging in leisure activities, not for the experiences, but rather to display one’s wealth or social status.
99. Haul Video
A video of a person both displaying and discussing a collection of their recent purchases, often from a single retailer.
The idea that material goods or successes are of much greater value/importance than that of intellectual or spiritual well-being,
Maximalism is the antithesis of minimalism. It is the contrasting idea that ‘more is more’, rather than ‘less is more’.
102. Post-purchase Rationalization
This is where you convince yourself that you made the right decision with a purchase once you begin feeling regret.
(Anti) Maximalism Quotes
103. “Too many people spend money they don’t have, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.”
104. “Minimalism is a tool to eliminate life’s excess, focus on the essentials, and find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.”
105. “Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”
We’d love to hear from you.
What are your thoughts on this list?
Did we miss anything?
Let us know by leaving a comment below.