You could be a minimalist

Why are minimalists better collectors?

Either you are a collector or a minimalist. Either you love things or you love decluttering. But what if the opposites can be combined? And maybe minimalists are even better collectors?

Minimalism and Collecting

It does not work. After all, the goal of minimalism is to get rid of everything superfluous. And let's be honest: Most collections consist of surplus and worthless things, charged with sentimental memories that are more of a burden than an enrichment.

Separation is difficult

But separating them is often a real challenge. Because of the emotional relationships we have built with the junk. Who can imagine a life without any memorabilia or favorite things? What to do? Cold-hearted clearing out or hoarding nostalgically glorified?

Is there a compromise?

Can minimalism and collecting be combined? Can minimalists be better collectors? Or are you simply on the wrong track?

The love of "clutter"

“We should love our stuff,” demands Lee Randall in the January issue of Geo-Magazine. Love clutter? Everything pulls together for the minimalist. We love partners, parents, children, friends and maybe even ourselves, but "clutter"?

Things as identity creators

It's not that absurd, because, "We find ourselves in the things we surround ourselves with," as Randall says. In her opinion, possessions create identity and are an expression of one's own values ​​and memories. If we get rid of our things, we also get rid of ourselves. At least if you follow Randall's point of view.

Things manifest our personality

By relating, interacting with, and showing things to things, they always present something of us. These objects express pride, about ourselves, about what we have achieved and thus communicate values. If we radically separate from property, we also say goodbye to parts of our own personality, past, wishes and ideals.
Linda Tutmann writes something similar on Zeit Online: “Whoever has nothing reveals his inability to have a relationship”. For them, too, possession is an expression of ourselves and our experiences. No wonder that she too is critical of minimalism and sees it rather as an extreme form of consumption:

Anyone who spends months looking for a single designer lamp for their bare living room and then ends up paying more than I for all of my furniture combined is not doing without. What comes across as asceticism turns out to be a superlative of consumption on closer inspection.

Linda Tutmann, Zeit Online

Are the minimalists mad?

There we go again: minimalism as a sport. So are Randall and Tutmann right with their criticism of minimalism? Do minimalists run the risk of clearing out their personality with their material possessions?

Danger! Extreme oversubscription

Yes and no. Even if both are right on many points, you do one thing above all else: you exaggerate. Your examples are extreme and create a distorted picture of minimalist life. For you, minimalists always reduce to the limit of what is feasible, only to be left with literally nothing.

I have already written elsewhere that minimalism is not a sport in which you win if you don't own anything in the end. Because minimalism is not about clearing out just about the will to clear out.

Minimalists are people like you and me

They will certainly also exist, these extreme minimalists. But from my experience, for most people, minimalism is above all a conscious engagement with property and consumption. There are probably phases of radical clearing out too, but in the many cases minimalist life is far less extreme than the authors portray it.

Extreme harm

And that's just as well. Because extremes do more harm than good. This applies to radical minimalists as well as to collectors. While one person no longer has possessions to find himself in, the other has so much that he can no longer distinguish between valuable and worthless. Either way, you get lost in your stance on your property.

Too much is bad. This is as true of minimalism as it is of things.

The best from both worlds

It is better to avoid the extremes and instead combine the best of both worlds: a reduction to what really means something to us.

Just keep what you love

Japanese order consultant Marie Kondō recommends only keeping things that make you happy. Their value is therefore not derived from their material value, but from the relationship we have with them. This is no different from Lee Randall. Because she, too, is primarily concerned with the ideal value of things.

Reduction as an opportunity

But while Randall and Tutmann fear that minimalism will ultimately also cause personality to disappear, Kondō sees a great opportunity in reduction. Namely to strengthen your own personality by concentrating on the essentials.

Minimalism means asking the right questions

Minimalism forces us to grapple with our possessions. By even considering the idea of ​​clearing out, we have to ask ourselves what should stay and what should go. Approaches like Marie KondosMagic cleaning help with the right questions. Not “How much did it cost?” Or “Can I still use it?”, But rather “Does it make me happy?” Or “Does it feel good to have it in hand?”.

Practical things contribute to our well-being

While most things are of practical use, such sentimental questions are necessary. Because soulless everyday objects also make a massive contribution to wellbeing. By fulfilling their purpose, reliably and in the way we wanted them to be when we bought them. A device that is fun to use can make us a little happier.

Collections make us happier

The same is true of a collection. Because these are not things that make our everyday lives easier, it is all the more important that they contribute to our well-being. Otherwise they have no job. We collect things to enjoy yourself, or as Randall thinks, to reassure ourselves of ourselves. A collection should be something of us and thus represent a piece of identity.

Prerequisite: be specific

Instead of indiscriminately picking up everything we've ever owned, collecting everything we somehow associate with ourselves, it does more when we get concrete. So differentiate the meaningless from the meaningful. And that's exactly what minimalism is all about.
Not everything that is around somewhere that we have inherited has real meaning to us. But all too often we are not aware of this. Because many things do one thing above all else: They block the view.

Minimalism - the difference between collecting and hoarding

It is not so easy to distinguish between the important and the unimportant, to separate ideal values ​​from material ones. But it is a prerequisite so that we can surround ourselves with things that mean something to us and in which we can find ourselves. If it does not succeed, it is not collecting, but just indiscriminate hoarding.
A minimalist approach only helps to collect what enriches life through conscious clearing out and questioning. If we surround ourselves with a few things in which we can find ourselves, it brings us more than any arbitrary collection of supposed mementos.

The path to the possession that gives expression to our personality leads only through a conscious confrontation with it.

A minimalist is ultimately a collector of the things that make him happy. Without ballast that could stand in the way of this happiness.


Things make us happy, they are an expression of our personality. It does not matter whether they have an ideal or practical use. Therefore, a radical minimalism, which is ruthlessly cleared out, does not make sense. On the other hand, if we have too much, we can no longer distinguish between what is superfluous and what is valuable. We get lost in things. Minimalism can save us from that. By bringing us to a conscious confrontation with property and thus helping to collect what is right. Minimalism and collecting are not opposites. Rather, they can harmonize well and thanks to the concentration on the essentials, minimalists are often better collectors.

tl; dr

Collecting in a minimalist way means picking up only what is valuable and meaningful. This is how minimalism makes us better collectors.

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