While minimalism sounds like a distant term, it is actually a fusion of ideas, from ancient times to modern days. Here’s the list of minimalist wisdom throughout the different concepts:
- Epicureanism is an early example of minimalist thinking in Ancient Greece. Epicurus tells us that wisdom is the knowledge of which pleasures are good for us. Ask of each thing is it necessary. According to Epicurus, the essentials for happiness should be maintained at minimal cost, while all things beyond should be taken in moderation or avoided.
- Buddhism tells us how to incorporate minimalism into our life. It teaches that we shouldn’t be attached to things as everything is temporary in nature. Buddhism is also related to mindfulness which means being fully aware and not judging. Or as Rick Hanson in his book Buddha’s Brain puts it, mindfulness is the doorway to taking in good experiences and making them a part of yourself.
- The idea of simplicity is deeply rooted in Japanese Wabi-Sabi philosophy. It inspired the minimalist architecture in the 20th Century, such as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. The Japanese aesthetic values the quality of plain objects. It invites us to see beauty in flaws, and to accept things as they are – appreciating rather than perfecting.
- Nordic lifestyle concepts invite us to slow down. The Danish culture of Hygge suggests that the key to happiness is hidden behind the pleasures of daily life, be it a blanket or a scented candle. Six books about Hygge were published in the US and nine in the UK in 2016, with at least four to come this year that shows the increasing popularity of this concept. Meanwhile, Lagom, a Swedish version of ‘less is more’, is a new trending philosophy which is all about modesty and finding the right balance between not too much and not too little.
I think the popularity of western minimalism has made us unaware that the philosophy of living with less is a collective of past and culturally robust origins. It’s nice to see that you’ve traced some of these trends back to its sources.