With everything you encounter in life, there are benefits and drawbacks, and minimalism is no different. While I think simple living is great overall, it's important to consider some valid pros and cons of minimalism.
I'll state the obvious first.
The obvious pros are you have less clutter, you're more organized, you save time, you're better able to prioritize, you focus on experiences over stuff, and you save money because you're not buying a whole bunch of crap you don't need.
The obvious cons are you can't always get what you want and your options in some situations are limited.
Below I'm going to address the pros and cons of five issues within minimalism.
#1: Be willing to commit and sacrifice.
Con: It's difficult to embrace a minimalist lifestyle.
On the surface, getting rid of stuff seems easy enough, but it actually requires a lot of willpower and willingness to go beyond our mental and sentimental attachments to things.
The process of decluttering can feel very stressful and overwhelming in the beginning. Memories and emotions surface as you are going through your stuff. Evaluating relationships or changing career paths can be upsetting if you're not prepared.
Additionally, as you shed your old lifestyle, you may find yourself asking, "Who am I now?". I will address this in more detail later.
Pro: Once you get through the initial discomfort of letting things go, the process becomes easier.
You're able to efficiently decide what is right for you. You can better identify the pros and cons of any situation. You're also better able to separate yourself from things that are external to your being.
#2: There is no standard of minimalism. No rule book. It's an open and accepting lifestyle. You only need to figure out what works for you and eliminate the rest.
Con: Deciding what minimalism means for you can be confusing or overwhelming.
There are many people discussing minimalism and simple living. You can find them via blogs, YouTube, and books. We share our stories with you, but it is a very personal journey.
It can be difficult for you to break from your set way of living. You may not know anyone in real life who is modeling minimalist behavior. So it can be difficult to define it for yourself if you don't encounter it in your everyday life.
Pro: You are in control and get to define minimalism for yourself.
No one can tell you what it means for you to be a minimalist.
We who discuss minimalism are merely providing guides and suggestions.
If you accept the responsibility of becoming a minimalist, it can be very empowering. You are the expert on you and no one gets to tell you how to live your life.
#3: Shiny Object Syndrome
Con: You're not easily impressed and are cured of shiny object syndrome.
This may sound like a pro, but the reality is that many things begin to lose their luster and there is a danger in being underwhelmed.
We all consume a lot of information via the internet, television, books, and real life interactions. If you're a realist like me, then you already approach many things with neutrality or some skepticism.
Since becoming a minimalist, I'm even more hesitant to accept things on the surface and need to know more before embracing something.
I don't want to lose my ability to wowed and you should be concerned about this too. As a kid, we we're impressed by everything and possessed an innocent curiosity, but with adulthood comes, "been there, done that".
This is a warning, not to lose your sense of wonder and allow yourself to be awed. You don't have to own something to be awed by it.
Pro: You can determine the value of things and dig deeper into them.
Not getting caught up in the bright lights, allows you determine more accurately if something has value for you and is worth your time, attention, and wonder.
You may also find other things to engage your sense of wonder like nature and travel.
Con: You have to pass over a lot of things that you "like" along the way and even if you encounter something you love, it may not be the right time to have it.
With minimalism you're committed to the things you need and love.
You constantly have to question your own motives and desires and guard against the mind's justifications for needing things.
Pro: You develop discipline and patience which eventually helps you curb your desire for more.
We are constantly psychologically bombarded with messages to consume everywhere we go. It's not wrong to find yourself still wanting things even as you embrace minimalism. Overtime, shiny object syndrome wears off and you cease to want as much stuff.
#5: People and you.
Con: A minimalist lifestyle can be lonely.
Earlier we discussed having to define minimalism for yourself and not knowing people who share your lifestyle. Your friends may want to hang out or go shopping and that might not appeal to you.
You may not have someone to talk to in real life who understands your new lifestyle. People may question your motives because the majority of the people in this country do not live minimally.
You may need to separate yourself from people you know and care about because they are engaging in things that don't align or conflict with your goals and values.
Additionally, you have to check your expectations of yourself and others. I talked about this in my video on deciding to be happy.
Other people don't have to understand or agree with your lifestyle and you shouldn't expect them too. The most you can ask is they respect you and your wishes. You have to remember, they're not changing their lives, you're changing your life.
You learn to be okay with being more independent, to understand what it means to alone and lonely, and you learn to say "no" more. It may feel uncomfortable for you personally, but you will learn to be okay with feeling uncomfortable.
It takes grit to stand in your truth and do what's best for you.
Pro: Ultimately, you will come to understand yourself better and deepen your spirituality.
When you're alone, there is nothing to distract you from the business of knowing you. Questions such as, "Who am I?", "Is this what I want for my life?", and "What is my purpose?" will arise.
These questions come up at some point in everyone's life journey, but with minimalism they will arise persistently.
Life changes create opportunities for your enlightenment and allow you to strengthen your inner self.