Over at Lifehacker, Sam Hughes has a post titled “A Minimalist Lifestyle Does Not Make You a Better Person.” No kidding. Actually, despite the bombastic title, the post is pretty straightforward. Hughes writes about how minimalism has simplified his life and, for him at least, made him happier, but not a better person.
It is not possible, nor is it desirable, to own nothing. In fact, a point comes when not owning critical stuff (a bed, a toilet, a room) starts becoming stressful again, in a whole different way from “too much stuff” stress. “Simplicity” is a relative term, and perhaps inapt; try “convenience”, which has more useful connotations. Fitting my life into a small number of boxes tucked under my bed makes me happy. Fretting over the precise enumeration of the items in those boxes would completely defeat the object of the exercise. [Emphasis in the original]
I guess there is both a real and implied moralization in a lot of the online writing about minimalistic living. It’s certainly often perceived that way by people who aren’t living that way and feel threatened by it. But I think Hughes post is a good reminder that minimalist living choices don’t equate to making someone a better person. It really just means they lead a potentially simpler life, less filled with stuff. Everything else is up to them.