"Rarum id quidem nihil enim aeque gratum est adeptis quam concupiscentibus." : https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Pliny_the_Younger
It's easy to find the high end and the cheapest option of a product category, but there's always the sweet spot that provides fantastic quality for a reasonable price. Identifying that product is a task I love.
You reach a point in your life where you start to question what you're doing it all for, and think about what it is you really want and need. Your values become more conservative, and you feel the need to attach to a social movement of the times.
It's also interesting to note that this transition always involves a moral dimension, including the judgment of those not fully on board with your movement of choice, and also competition with those who ARE on board.
Southpark's "smug alert" is particularly apt. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXZeq9eXAys
Sorry to call out your strawman here.
I've followed the minimalism debate for a while and I hardly anywhere hear so often things like "this is no competition", "this is what I feel works good for me, but you don't have to do it", "if you like your books keep them" etc. What you claim is largely not happening, apart from maybe some fringes of the movement.
Karma judgment (the zen master): "What we call minimalism comprises people who maximalize meaning, value, importance, and purpose."
Competition: "My girlfriend and I are very minimalist (err... maximalist?) owning only a few outfits each (no accessories), and just the bare necessities of home items. If we find something has no utility, it gets donated or trashed."
The True Scotsman: "Just to note, 'minimalists' are almost universally hated in every minimalist community I've seen and I would really not take them as any soft of spokespeople for minimalism."
Moral goalpost: "It sometimes amazes you how little you need to be happy yet everything we do is to get as much as possible."
The question is ill posed since our brains are not wired for consistent happiness.
You are probably mistaking it with being contented which starts by admitting defeat.
And this is all orthogonal to efficiency or productivity which ate important social goals if not strictly personal ones.
(Sometimes they partially coincide.)
I threw it all away. I must have thrown away $10,000 worth of stuff (well, mostly sold, recycled, gave away, and/or put in Schrodinger's "storage").
My digital footprint is much larger than the physical junk that I had. Now all of my belongings fit into one suitcase.
It was a very relaxing feeling getting rid of all of that junk. I haven't missed any of it.
It's not some hidden agenda that these Minimalists are pushing that they WANT you to be happy with less even though you actually are happier when you have more; I've found that I actually _am_ happier with less (after adopting the right mindset). In massively consumerist cities like SF, there is a ton of social pressure to show off that you have more trendy things than all of your neighbors and to drive that German car, etc. and you just have to use your willpower to not succumb to that pressure.
Like most people, I have far more STUFF than I need, but even if I downsized to just the stuff I use virtually every day, and really enjoy, would be a total PITA to move.
Quoting from the article:
"millennials with no hope of buying real estate, much less retiring, without stringent saving tactics, as well as families who need to downsize because of lost jobs or divorce."
These are people living beyond their means because they've no concept of the possibility that the future will ever present a worse situation than the present. Borrow, borrow, borrow and damn the future. What are consequences?
"stringent savings strategies" seems to be mentioned almost as an acceptance of failure of your life rather than a requirement of society. Having to downsize due to losing a job or divorce? Minimalism isn't going to save you from that, and neither, necessarily is a stringent savings strategy. Do they not expect any negative effects from losing a job or getting a divorce? Who are these people?
It's great that more people are being exposed to alternatives to 'buy everything so I can photograph myself in front of my extravagance', as a few people may be able to change their lifestyles. But wait a couple of years for articles about 'the failure of minimalism' because it was too hard for the average person / family to cope with. Such is the current culture of entitlement - with not much hope of improvement under Trump, the embodiment of entitlement. But post-Trump, there could be millions of reality checks in the mail.
It's completely up to you what level you want to engage with the material — maybe a student reads the blog post because they want to save money, maybe an adult buys the book because they want to get the information more efficiently and save time, maybe a company hires the seminar to disseminate the information to dozens or hundreds of employees, or an individual attends because they want specific advice to their situation, maybe an executive or passionate follower does the retreat to connect with the founders on a more philosophical level and get a very personalized experience.
From what I can tell, they are doing the same thing as Mr. Money Mustache but on a much more public stage and without the focus on early retirement/financial independence. Good for them!
Right now I'm looking to move about 700km. Sure, what little I own is a bit of trouble to move, but it is almost all useful. I'm at the point where having less stuff would mean doing fewer things.
In my book, "minimalism" is often a treatment for the symptom rather than the disease. The real cure is to actively remove items that have a negative emotional connotation, and to hold onto only those things that you either use or otherwise affiliate positive feelings with. (For example, I almost never use my flashlight, but it feels good to know I have it on hand in case the power dies out. That's worth keeping.)
Is this basically the same idea as "spark joy" from Marie Kondo's books?
Minimalism is critical thinking applied to the ownership, maintenance, management, and lifecycle of objects.
I love to cook and I have a kitchen full of stuff, but if I'm being honest with myself I have most of that stuff because I like to have it rather than because I need to have it. I could throw out most of my knives and and pots and pans and basically all of my kitchen machines and still cook some pretty good food. It would just be a bit more work and a bit less fun.
Poor families need space to store stuff, because they stock up during good times to go through the bad. My family had a huge basement stocked with pickled vegetables and fruits, bought during harvest when they are cheap to use during winter when everything is expensive. We also had tons of bookshelves, filled to the brim with aged books from parents, cousins and other relatives, because we could not afford buying school materials every year and school libraries were usually picked clean. You need a place to store all the stuff from your parents - your crib, clothes, toys, so you can use them for your kids too...
I don't know how you get around all that with minimalism - from my POV, owning a big house is the best investment a poor family can make.
I don't consider myself a poor person but I grew up lower middle class and practiced habits like stocking up on consumables in bulk when they're on sale that you'll definitely use before they expire — things like soap or shampoo or toilet paper. I still practice that today because to me it's fiscal responsibility, but it is easy to go overboard as well. I just always try to optimize for reasonable unit economics which can vary quite a bit from thing to thing. Sometimes buying the cheap disposable version makes more sense than a BIFL.
You'll notice that it's mostly rich people preaching minimalism.
Another topic is knives. Everyone tries to sell you sets of 5+ knives. For 90% of the tasks the chefs knive will do. For the rest a small knife and a bread knife will mostly cover you.
But still, whenever I read about "minimalism", and people bragging about how they can fit everything they own into a single carry on bag, I can't help think that these are really boring people. It just doesn't seem like a lifestyle that would make any sense for all but a small number of people that fit some very narrow conditions ("pure" knowledge worker, no pets or children, no interest in whole swaths of hobbies and activities).
Eg, I'm a professional software developer to pay the bills. RSI is a potential career ender for me, so I have an ergonomic setup a good chair, desk, monitors, keyboard and trackball. I can't just work on a macbook air in a cafe all the time without risking my livelihood. When I'm not working, I like to do oil painting (which requires an easel, paints, brushes, cleaning supplies, sketchbooks, etc.), I play and record music (so I've got a bass, a couple guitars, a couple amps, pedals, mics, etc), and I like hiking and camping (so backpack, tent, etc. etc.). My partner teaches electronics and builds hardware games and art installations, so our flat is full of soldering irons, heat guns, reflow stations, and stockpiles of components. She's also a musician so she has a small collection of synths and music gear of her own and she likes to do woodworking and build furniture (we don't have room for large power tools in our flat, so she has a membership at a maker space for that) and she likes gardening so we have a ton of plants.
When I think about all the most interesting, creative people that I know, none of them could do the "minimalism" thing either. They do things like arc welding, hardware reverse engineering, homebrewing and distilling, electroplating, restoring vintage motorcycles, sewing, 3d printing, quilting, farming, baking, cosplay, etc. All of which require having a bunch of stuff.
Minimalism is fine and if it works for you and your lifestyle, fine. But I really don't like how it always seems to come along with an implicit disdain for physicality and interests that aren't completely in line with that knowledge worker on a macbook on an empty desk aesthetic.
A few years ago, I was forced to move in with my gf (long story) She owned a house, filled with her own stuff. I was left with no option but to dispense with furniture etc. Some was sold, some given away, some donated. I moved in with my clothes, some memento's and heirlooms and some kitchen utensils (just in case it didn't work out).
I moved everything in two loads of my truck. Over the years, theirs been times where I was considering moving out. Not having to deal with all that STUFF is intensely freeing. Call it an awakening through involuntarily minimalism.
But maybe you thought the article and capital letter weren't adding value to your life.
If someone doesn't value stuff, does value meaning, and gets rid of the former to maximize the latter, why call attention to and name them by what they don't value?
What we call minimalism comprises people who maximalize meaning, value, importance, and purpose.
That being said, "minimalism vs. maximalism" really seems like splitting hairs here, as I don't think one implies something better than the other or is inherently clearer.
For example, if you find you need a trilobed screwdriver to repair one of your few possessions you'll either have to borrow it from a friend or rent it. Both those options require that someone else be non-minimalist for your benefit.
If all people were strongly minimalist this would have the effect of moving nearly all gadgets into the service domain. Screwdriver-as-service, ironing-as-a-service, yard-brushing-as-a-service. Is that scenario really less consumerist and less stressful than just going out and buying a screwdriver and keeping it in a box in the garage?
 or buy it and then sell it when done, which i'll categorise as renting here
Because each person defines their minimal set of possessions differently, I don't follow to your conclusion that minimalism is dependent upon non-minimalists.
Alternative idea, if everyone were minimalist then we could develop a system of communal tools and goods.
Pay someone to come and fix it or just throw it out and get a new one. Being Minimalist doesn't have to mean being frugal.
Not perhaps in the "buy cheapest" but "buy least".
We call people who drive cars to go places "drivers" instead of "arrivers" because driving is the most significant difference between them and people who seek to go places as pedestrians, bicyclists, or train, boat or airplane passengers.
There are plenty of people seek to "maximalize meaning, value, importance, and purpose" but one subgroup emphasizes the significance of the absence of stuff, and so it makes sense to distinguish them by this, rather than the goal which they share very broadly.
It's interesting to read how people actively push themselves towards minimalism. I have the opposite problem: if everything I own doesn't fit in an airplane bag, I feel bogged down.
I truly dislike buying things. Furniture shopping is just the worst.
I guess it partly depends on what you value. I value experiences, like travel and live music far more than I value a shiny thing or piece of clothing.
I've been asked advice on how to live without stuff... "How do I start throwing things away?" I don't have an answer. I just don't want whatever it is.
If I have a lot of things that I can't name a solid use for, then I feel bogged down. If there are a lot of things that I want to do that I don't have the equipment for, then I'm unhappy. It's less about the objects than what the objects let me do.
The konmari method has worked a bit for me but I don't know if it's for everyone. There are probably other books on the subject.