Essentialism vs Minimalism: Are you looking to make a lifestyle change and want to live with more intention!?

Essentialism and minimalism are very similar and can greatly improve your life! 

If you’re ready to make a lifestyle shift, these may be right for you!

Essentialism is mainly about creating internal intention with your life while minimalism is more about decluttering physical items and other areas of your life. 

I’m a simple living and minimalist lifestyle advocate and have been decluttering since 2018 and love finding ways to simplify my life!

I originally had never heard of essentialism, but after researching, it seems very interesting and something I’d like to give a try!

I hope this post is informative and you learn all about essentialism vs minimalism, how they are similar, and how they differ!


About Me: My name is Miguel and I’m a simple living and budget spreadsheet advocate! I’ve been decluttering my life since 2018 and love everything simple living related. I aim to help you learn how to live a simple life, become intentional with your spending, and manage your money right!

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. Please read the full disclosure for more information.

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Essentialism vs Minimalism

In this post we will cover the difference and similarities between Essentialism and Minimalism as well as benefits of both! 

What is an Essentialist Lifestyle?

An essentialist lifestyle is very similar to a minimalist lifestyle and I’ve heard it could even be considered a distant cousin to minimalism. 

Essentialism, however, is more focused on intentional living and values making decisions that will lead to fulfilling your goals or what you deem to be essential in your life.

Essentialism is not so much about what you own but more so about how you spend your time.

According to author Greg Mckeown who wrote Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, essentialism is about saying no to spending time on anything that doesn’t contribute to your essential intent. 

Putting value into what you say yes to in your life and learning to say no if something isn’t in alignment with your essential intent. 

This essential intent can help you reach your purpose in life and bring about more happiness and fulfillment by directing your life intentionally down that path with every decision. 

What is The Ideology of Minimalism?

Compared to essentialism, minimalism is more about reducing physical clutter and simplifying different areas of your life.

These areas can include: 

  • Wardrobe
  • Living space
  • Digital space
  • Mental space

In theory, once these areas in your life are decluttered, you have more space and time for what truly matters in your life. 

What truly matters in your life?

  • Family
  • Spouse
  • Children 
  • Loved ones
  • Friends 
  • Charity
  • Giving
  • Hobbies 
  • Passions
  • Goals
  • Travel

By prioritizing your relationships and experiences you will thus gain more joy and happiness.

In addition, when you learn to declutter and live a minimalist lifestyle, you learn to become more content with less. 

And you can cultivate this happier life by removing distractions that come in the form of possessions most of the time. 

minimalist desk with desk items; essentialism vs minimalism

Why Live an Essentialist Lifestyle?

Here’s why you should become an essentialist:

  • Live your life with intent and goals in mind
  • Helps you get closer to a happier more fulfilled life

Why Live a Minimalist Lifestyle?

Here’s why you should embrace minimalism:

  • Reduce the Clutter and unnecessary junk in your life
  • Makes life easier
  • Gain more peace and contentment in life

Essentialism vs Minimalism: How to Find Purpose and Increase Your Happiness

Essentialism vs Minimalism: learning to embrace intentionality: 

  1. Differences Between Essentialism and Minimalism
  2. Similarities Between Essentialism and Minimalism
  3. Should You Live an Essentialist Lifestyle?
  4. Should You Live a Minimalist Lifestyle?
  5. My Recommendation Essentialism vs Minimalism

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    1. Differences Between Essentialism and Minimalism

    Minimalism is Primarily About Physical Things

    • Removing clutter
    • Living with less
    • Creating a peaceful space
    • Eliminating distractions

    Essentialism Is Primarily About Internal Decisions

    • How you spend your time 
    • Understanding that saying yes to can mean saying no to things that may be better for your happiness/purpose

    2. Similarities Between Essentialism and Minimalism

    Here are some of the most common similarities between essentialism and minimalism:

    • Both based around intentionality
    • Both attempt to create a happier life
    • Both attempt to declutter aspects of your life

    3. Should You Live an Essentialist Lifestyle?

    Living an Essentialist lifestyle can guide your towards your ideal life and remove anything that doesn’t aline with your goals. 

    Should you live an essentialist lifestyle?:

    • Yes!: If you want to build more intention in your life and create a more defined purpose/goals for your life
    • No!: if you want to take it slow and just remove the clutter first ie. start with minimalism or simple living

    4. Should You Live A Minimalist Lifestyle?

    Living a minimalist lifestyle is a big commitment depending on your style of minimalism and what your life looks like now.

    Should you live a minimalist lifestyle?:

    • Yes!: if you want to reduce the clutter in your life and spend more time on what you enjoy!
    • No!: if you enjoy simple living, but you still love to shop and have trouble decluttering. Or if you don’t want to make a drastic lifestyle shift. 
    minimalist interior with chair and shelves; essentialism vs minimalism

    5. My Recommendation: Essentialism vs Minimalism

    Essentialism seems very interesting and I may like to look into it more!

    Essentialism is a discipline and serious mindset shift that takes some conscience effort!

    I’d definitely recommend giving both a try depending on what you want out of life!

    I think both can be used in tandem to live a really great life focused on what matters and gives you the most joy!

    I’d recommend going with a minimalist lifestyle first, but if this takes too much time decluttering or for whichever reason, then I would say go with essentialism!

    Benefits of Essentialism

    Essentialism has various benefits and ways that it can improve your life!

    1. Better Quality of Life

    Choosing to do tasks that you enjoy (not disregarding responsibilities) instead of wasting time on social media etc. can lead to a much better quality of life in the pursuit of your passions and goals. 

    2. Helps You Reach Your Goals

    When you become an essentialist, you become picky with what you agree and don’t agree to do.

    This can mean saying no more often, however, this is to put more time into achieving your desires and goals! 

    3. Guides You to a Happier Life

    Once you have eliminated time spent on things that don’t bring you closer to your goals and meaning in life, you will ultimately become happier and more fulfilled! 

    woman sitting on a couch and smiling while drinking out of a blue mug

    Benefits of Minimalism

    Minimalism has tons of benefits and allows you more intentionality and less clutter in your life.

    1. Less Stress/Anxiety

    Less clutter = more freedom

    You’ll gain more peace from a clean organized living space.

    2. Save More Money

    A frugal minimalist lifestyle will allow you to save more for your long-term financial goals:

    • Helps you become debt-free
    • More money to donate if you can
    • Allow you to save more for family vacation and other experiences
    • Save more for retirement

    3. More Time For What You Love

    When living a minimalist lifestyle you’ll have more time to spend:

    • With family/friends
    • On hobbies
    • On passions
    • Traveling


    Essentialism vs Minimalism Examples

    • Essentialism Example: Deciding to take a walk outside with your children after weekend breakfast instead of scrolling Facebook or watching tv
    • Minimalism Example: Removing all of the clothes in your wardrobe that you no longer wear and creating a 33-piece capsule wardrobe that can mix and match. 

    Minimalism vs Maximalism

    Minimalism vs Maximalism definition: Maximalism is thought of as the opposite of minimalism. Maximalism is essentially an aesthetic of excess. 

    However, there is a minimalist idea explained by Joshua Becker that Maximalism is actually minimalism:

    Essentialism By Greg Mckeown

    Essentialism by Greg Mckeown is a “systematic discipline” for determining what is essential in your life and removing anything that is not. 

    This is all to get closer to the things that matter most to you! 

    Different Forms of Minimalism

    Minimalism comes in a variety of forms! 

    There are different types of minimalist lifestyles separate from the traditional that you may have thought of  including:

    • Nomad Minimalist Lifestyle: Form of extreme minimalism where you travel regularly/ live in different places for long or short periods of time. This lifestyle requires you to live out of a minimalist carry-on.
    • Extreme Minimalist Lifestyle: This minimalist lifestyle requires you to be very extreme with your possessions and way of life. This is difficult to achieve with a family but isn’t the best if you want a simple balanced life.
    • Minimalism With a Family: This type of minimalist lifestyle involves your spouse and kids while also living with less and decluttering what doesn’t bring you joy. This may mean you own more due to toys and other family necessities but is still very much possible! 
    • Balanced Minimalist Lifestyle: This minimalist lifestyle is all about balance and is the perfect lifestyle for one wanting to live a simple life but stay away from extremes!  

    Aesthetic Minimalism

    Aesthetic Minimalism is mostly associated with living spaces:

    • Neutral colors
    • No clutter
    • Clean design
    • Modern look

    Digital Minimalism

    Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport is a great book dedicated to helping you unplug and create a proper relationship with your tech.

    Cal Newport shares strategies to reduce your tech use and declutter areas of your digital life!

    Green Minimalism/Eco-Minimalism

    Green Minimalism/Eco-Minimalism is all about using minimalism as a tool to reduce environmental impact.

    Mental Minimalism

    Mental minimalism is all about Decluttering mental clutter reducing the stress and overwhelm associated with too many things to do and on your mind.

    phone, notepad, earbuds, pen on bed

    Challenges You May Face When Living an Essentialist Lifestyle

    Living an essentialist lifestyle seems much more challenging than a minimalist lifestyle in my opinion.

    Sure when embracing minimalism you create a mindset shift and declutter your life which can take a lot of time and dedication.

    However, the mindset shift associated with an essentialist lifestyle takes more effort.

    Let me explain…

    To be more intentional about most things you do, you need to consciously determine whether many things in life fall in line with your essential intent. 

    This is extremely positive, but seems like it can be exhausting to be so intentional constantly.

    However, this is something I may give a try so it may not be so bad haha.

    Here are some of the other ways that living an essentialist lifestyle may be challenging:

    • Requires a large mindset shift
    • Might be a little advanced
    • Challenging to say no to things you enjoy, when you could be doing something that is better for you. For example, saying no to a movie in order to practice your instrument or side hustle. 

    Challenges You May Face When Living a Minimalist Lifestyle

    Living a minimalist lifestyle is not something that is easily done depending on your situation.

    The most common challenges you may come across when attempting to live a minimalist lifestyle:

    • Family or spouse may not be on board
    • Decluttering can be overwhelming
    • Creating a minimalist wardrobe may be difficult depending on your line of work and needs
    • Getting rid of items that you have an emotional attachment to can be very hard

    Final Thoughts | Essentialism vs Minimalism: How to Find Purpose and Increase Your Happiness

    I hope this post was helpful and you were able to learn everything about essentialism vs minimalism!

    I hope you’ll give these lifestyles a try and good luck on your journey! 🙂

    About Me: My name is Miguel and I’m a simple living and budget spreadsheet advocate! I’ve been decluttering my life since 2018 and love everything simple living related. I aim to help you learn how to live a simple life, become intentional with your spending, and manage your money right!

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