Minimalism: When Nothing Reveals Everything

Minimalism could be stark, empty, and lonely. Minimalism could mean white walls, empty drawers, and a blank calendar.

If that scares you and makes you want to be surrounded by stuff, be comforted by the fact that minimalism is not like that at all. Or at least it doesn’t have to be. In fact, it doesn’t have to be like anything you’ve seen before. Pictures on Instagram or Pinterest and even blog posts that demonstrate the benefits of living with less only capture a tiny moment in time, a glimpse of a life. The real truth about minimalism and simplicity is that it is different for everyone.

Minimalism as a lifestyle looks different for everyone, but we can all experiment with minimalism similarly. Boundaries and challenges allow you to test the waters and find the sweet spot. It’s important to find the sweet spot between everything and nothing that works best in your life. That sweet spot will change depending on who you are, where you live, who lives with you and what is most important to you.

If your life is on auto-pilot and you want to shake things up, try a minimalist experiment.

Challenge yourself with …

The 100 Thing Challenge
I started Dave Bruno’s 100 Thing Challenge last summer and it’s really helped me to see how little I really need. Even with just 100, I use 20% of my stuff 80% of the time.

The Reverse 100 Thing Challenge
If you are just starting your downsizing journey and living with only 100 things seems extreme, give away 100 items.

Project 333
Solving your closet clutter crisis is a great way to embrace a simpler lifestyle. Get started and quickly learn that 33 items are more than enough.

A Packing Party
Accelerate your decluttering efforts and pretend you’re moving on a whim and only have one day to pack all of your stuff. Unpack things as you need them. The packing party is a great way to see what you need, what you miss and what you want to give away.

Technology Free Rooms
Digital clutter and the glow of a little screen can disrupt sleep, train of thought, and the ability to fully pay attention to people you love. Try a digital sabbatical or embrace a technology free room to see how a constant stream of information and digital connection really impacts your life and relationships.

Try one of these ideas or all of them, one at a time.

We know that he who dies with most stuff doesn’t win and I think we can safely assume that he who dies with the least amount doesn’t win either. These challenges will give you information to live a happier, healthier life, but they don’t have to become your life.  Our lives cannot be a competition on either end of the spectrum, but in order to find your sweet spot, experiencing less can help.

There is something powerful about empty time and space to think and move, but you don’t need an empty home or life to experience the benefits. It might be the empty room or corner that gives you permission to downsize, or a free day on the calendar that invites you to say no more often. You need time and space to discover what is most meaningful to you. You need solitude and a break from the busy to decide how you really want to spend your time.

When you carve out the time and space you so desperately need, you can live less reactively and more intentionally.

Use minimalism to experience nothing, because it’s there … in the silence, in the empty, in the blank, that everything is revealed.



  1. says

    Fantastic! I myself love the idea of a tech free room – especially in today’s world where we can live in it 24/7. I’ve recently started turning off my phone (seems crazy but I used to NEVER do it) for large blocks of time – say 5-6 hours – and I put it somewhere out of the way like in a drawer, to literally tune out. It feels SO good to do this and I feel mentally clear and uncluttered to have the break. Thanks for the great blog!

  2. Rebecca says

    Great post! I think most people think of minimalism as an all or nothing deal. But it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s whatever works to allow you a little extra freedom from things.

  3. Richard Gay says

    I’ve begun to listen to podcasts lately, as an alternative to a news channel while driving, and as an alternative to watching television. The podcasts are really much more interesting! The subject matter is captivating, my attention skills are exercised, and my imagination is stimulated in a way that television almost never achieves. I know this isn’t the same thing as turning off the electronics (or phone), but it’s a very beneficial change.

  4. says

    There’s always such an emphasis on minimalism in the physical sense – with a tendency for that “Oh don’t you know, I only have 5 possessions now” mentality to take centre stage. It’s so nice to read a post that doesn’t try to force feed that single-faceted mentality Courtney, or indeed a one-size-fits-all domgma.

    Relief indeed for the likes of me, who are staunch advocates of minimalism of time and task, and yet live their lives swamped by physical clutter. :-)

    Thank you for a great, conviction strengthening post.

  5. says

    I wonder if I could get my husband to agree to a technology free bedroom… I wonder if I could do it! We’d have to get another kind of alarm clock then, I suppose. Do they even still make non-digital alarm clocks??

    • Erin says

      Yes, they do still make key-wound alarm clocks. I think I got mine at the nearby drugstore (Rite Aid, maybe?) or of course you can easily order one online. I have used one since I was a little kid because I always preferred the ringing bell to that MEEP MEEP electric buzzer noise.

  6. says

    Thank you, Courtney. CJ and I have enjoyed a much happier life since we started to simplify. We simplified in many ways before we even started to clear out much of the clutter. In fact, we first began by simplifying our time which has been the most beneficial to us. Now that we have worked on healthy eating, fitness, and our time, we are ready to tackle our STUFF! I should add that, while we were not giving away or selling things up until last spring, we were not acquiring more. That, in itself, was freeing!

    I love the line “our lives cannot be a competition on either end of the spectrum.” I noticed that trying to get rid of everything at once was actually creating stress!

  7. says

    Minimalism can be quite scary when your identity for the past ten years has been defined by the stuff you have and buy, like I had been in my late teens, and early twenties. Removing the burden of approval and identity from my stuff resulted in an emptiness, I wasn’t ready for. I had to go travelling for 9 months, with very little stuff, to realize that I do not need anything external to be who I am. I am good enough as is. Thanks for the post.

  8. says

    Courtney, it’s great to see you writing!

    As a musician, I have fallen in love with the process of growth and honing my craft. I see minimalism the same way; we may never truly reach the “place” (or will we?), but the journey feels enlightening for sure. Enjoy the process…

  9. says

    Since we’re moving soon, I’ve been living out of a suitcase. I’ve packed probably 80% of my clothes and, like you said, I pretty much only use the remaining 20% in any given week, anyway. It’s pretty interesting to see just how little we can – and already do – get by with.

  10. says

    I live 6 month of the year in a SNOW BIRD community. Living with less in a very small space is like a breath of fresh air. I reuse other peoples discards and have created a home for my husband and I that is aesthetically pleasing while costing almost nothing. We have learned to live in style on a minimalists budget. I love it.


  11. says

    I think minimalism looks different for everyone. It’s really a matter of paring down in every aspect of life, then adding back ONLY what we need or truly enjoy.

    Bethany@Journey to Ithaca (formerly Our So-Called Life)

  12. Debra says

    Miss Britt Buy a Zen clock, it’s battery operated, no light on the dial and you will wake up to chimes. Love mine.

  13. says

    I ignored minimalism for a long time because I assumed that it meant getting rid of almost everything I own, living with almost no decorations or pictures on the walls, etc. This is the only version of it I’d seen. Then I found Project 333 and, through it, this site, and my eyes have been opened. My biggest area of clutter now is physical clutter, and I have been trying to figure out how to tackle it. I have already gotten rid of so much, but I know there’s a lot more do get rid of, too. I’m gearing up to try Project 333 – I’m hoping to get that going in the next week or so. Yay! Thanks for the inspiration and the new perspective!