Minimalism is not Asceticism

Asceticism is a lifestyle characterized by extreme self-denial or abstinence from worldly pleasures. It is important not to confuse that with minimalism. 

Minimalism doesn't mean that you can't indulge in the things that you enjoy. It doesn't mean that you need to be frugal or that you must always make major tradeoffs. Here are a few definitions of minimalism that provide a more realistic — and attainable — perspective. 


The essentials are the people, activities, and things in life that you care the most about. When you live a minimalist lifestyle you learn how to prioritize and focus your energy and resources on these things over others that you don't deem as important. 


Every once in a while life gets difficult and we find there are barriers that prevent us from being happy. Sometimes we can't avoid the cause of these difficulties, but often times we find there are changes we can make to simplify and enjoy life once again. 


We all want a lot out of life. We have a myriad of desires and we put a lot of pressure on ourselves and others as a result. When what we want or who we want to be is not in line with our current reality we become distressed. Adopting a minimalist perspective helps us cut down on the number of wants and desires and appreciate what we already have.


Contrary to popular belief,  minimalism is about finding balance in your life not adhering to someone's else's set standard of how many items you should own or how you should organize and design your environment. It's a mindset that should allow you to pursue pleasure in life — within reason. Being modest and mindful about the limits of your desires does not mean eliminating them altogether nor conforming to another person's rules.  


Some advocates of the simple life tend to blur the line between minimalism and asceticism. It can feel overwhelming to adopt a minimalist lifestyle if you believe it constantly requires you to adopt extreme measures in order to maintain it. 

It's important to distinguish minimalism from it's more extreme counterpart — and also recognize that what matters most is how you choose to define it. 

This article was written by and originally featured on Unadorned.