Essentialism: A Functional Approach Towards Minimalism

With rising popularity of minimalism over the years, forums have been opened to discuss the pros and cons of this way of life. While the Zen-like aestheticism has won the world over, some face challenges owing to an extreme interpretation of the minimalist concept-they end up giving up more than is actually required.

To handle such misunderstandings of concept and also taking into consideration the need of various possessions for a convenient lifestyle, the practice of Essentialism comes into the picture.

What is Essentialism?

As per Wikipedia:

Essentialism is the view that every entity has a set of attributes that are necessary to its identity and function.

Skin care can be essential for some people’s skin care
Skin care can be essential for some people’s skin care (Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels)

In simple terms, essentialism refers to using the essential for a task or situation.

Essentialism advocates use of resources which are considered essential for doing a task in a way that a person needs it to be done. To elucidate the point further, let us consider an example:

Say a writer has to write six quality articles over 2 days. He/she is capable of writing at maximum of 4 high-quality articles every 2 days. Here the need of the hour is to deliver quality articles within a timeframe. So, 

The minimalism approach would be to deliver the task alone at the cost of quality 

The essentialism approach would be to take help of another person to help in reaching the goal with the required quality i.e. not the minimal but what is essential

Essentialism in our daily life

In daily life, essentialism can prove to be more pragmatic over minimalism. Say,

Scenario 1: You live alone but have 3 double beds in your apartment. Two-three of your friends come over night-overs frequently. As such, instead of retaining just one as a minimalist, retaining two will more practical aa an additional bed proves to be essential during your nights with friends.

Scenario 2: You have two systems-a personal and a work laptop. Extreme interpretation of minimalism suggests you to discard your personal laptop. But keeping into consideration the ethical point of view regarding not using the work laptop for any personal task, retaining two separate systems is an essentialist approach.

This concept of essentialism can be extended to any aspect of your life. But the question that may arise in a person’s mind is:

How to adopt essentialism in daily life?

If there are too many factors (or things) for a scenario:

Step 1: Adopt an extreme approach of minimalism. This approach advocates discounting (not removing) factors which do not have utility within a month’s time

Step 2: Now consider the state through a scenario is to be reached. This state can be “preparing food quickly”, “having enough clothes to carry you with a fresh pair each day for a week’s time” etc.

Step 3: Now, on top of the previously attained minimalistic state, retain only those factors which are essential for attaining the desired state. Remove the rest.

Essentialism proves to be practical owing to its philosophy of discarding things not out of retaining the minimum possible, but because it is not essential for a particular scenario.

Thank you for your time.

See you tomorrow !!!

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