Minimalists Can Have Hobbies

Not a lot of minimalist writing (that I've read, at least) delves into hobbies. So many books are about discarding stuff and forming better relationships with material things, and might offer only a couple of paragraphs about hobby stuff--if the topic is approached at all. Hobbies require material things; minimalist lessons teach us how to part with material things. But hobbies and minimalist lifestyles aren't, and shouldn't be, at odds with each other. 

I have learned a lot about how to live a calmer, happier life the deeper I've gotten into minimalism. Hobbies have always been a huge part of my life, and I haven't given them up even through years of decluttering and restructuring my life. I expect that no one really wants to give up all of their hobbies just for the sake of owning less stuff. So that begs the question...

How do hobbies fit into minimalism?

First off, so much of minimalism today is about getting rid of the excess of things or stuff that distract us from living the lives we want. Plain and simple, the lives we want generally center around one or more of our hobbies! By getting rid of the excess things and stuff, we peel away at the distractions that keep us from doing what we want with our time.

Second, the processes of decluttering and discarding make room in our lives and living spaces for the things we feel are most important, the things that make each of us who we are. Minimalists' homes take less time to clean than maximalists' homes, so free time and clean space are more abundant for minimalists. What better is there to do in our free time than enjoy a hobby?

Third, modern minimalism is not some kind of extreme, self-imposed austerity. You can be a minimalist and still have things. The point, generally, is to have things that bring you joy. There's no wrong amount of things to have as a minimalist; quite the opposite is true in that there is a "right" amount of things to have that is very personal, and you'll know when you get to that point. Think about all of the things that bring you joy--how many of them are hobby-related?

Finally, the journey through minimalism helps us rediscover our true selves. When we talk about our true selves, we talk about what we enjoy doing... and what do we enjoy doing? Hobbies, of course! What we like to do makes us unique, and minimalism helps us pare down to the things we like to have that allow us to do what we like to do.

Examples of minimalist hobbies

Most hobbies can pretty easily be adapted to a minimalist lifestyle. Some hobbies, just by virtue of not needing much in the first place, are minimalist-friendly from the get-go. Here are some hobbies that take up minimal space but have maximal ability to create joy:

  • Writing - Whether with pen and paper, a typewriter, or on a computer, writing takes next to nothing in terms of materials, and only takes as much space as your body and a spot to write.
  • Instant photography - All you need is a camera and some film, both of which tend to be pretty small packages. Photos can be taken of anything anywhere, and don't take up much space to store or display.
  • Digital photography - As long as you have a camera and a computer, you're set for digital photography. There are plenty of programs and online apps that you can use to organize and store your photo files; and if you choose to have prints made, they don't take up a lot of physical space.
  • Coloring books - Coloring books tend not to be enormous tomes, and all you need to go with them are a pack of colored pencils, markers, or crayons. There's no wrong way to color, and the materials don't take much space to store.
  • Drawing/graphic design - Depending on whether you prefer physical or digital media, drawing and graphic design are minimalist-friendly. With a sketchbook and a pencil or a tablet and stylus, you can go anywhere, have a seat, and draw to your heart's content.
  • Video games - If you already have a computer or a TV, video games won't take up much (or any) extra space unless you need a console. With most games these days being available as downloads instead of boxed discs, they take up less physical space than they have in decades past.
  • Music - Most musical instruments don't take much space, with the exception of drums and the tuba or sousaphone. Stringed instruments can also double as wall decor if they're hung up when they're not being played (which also saves on floor space).

Depending on your desire for socialization, all of the above hobbies can have a social aspect added to them so that you can include your friends and family. It's more relaxing than you'd think to sit down with a friend and quietly color some coloring pages, or to sit next to a loved one and each write for a while. That said, each of the hobbies I listed are also enjoyable in solitude if you're like me and not terribly social. 

There is a lot of room within minimalism for hobbies, especially when you look at the modern versions of minimalism that promote finding joy in what we keep with us. When we focus on finding ourselves and finding joy, we can use the space we make by discarding joyless things for our favorite hobbies instead. So go enjoy your favorite hobby and tell me about it in the comments!