Minimalism Begets Manliness

by A Manly Guest Contributor on October 13, 2010 · 94 comments

in Blog

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Gianpaolo Pietri.

Some of the most influential men in our collective history subscribed to a philosophy of minimalism. The greatest thinkers and doers of our civilization intuitively grasped the incredible benefits of keeping things simple. They quickly recognized the awesome power of reduction and used it as an invaluable tool for the construction of their lasting legacy. Throughout their careers, they emphasized a singular focus on the essential, not just in the physical sense of material possessions, but also metaphysically as related to matters of the mind and spirit.

In our time, minimalism has been embraced by a small army of bloggers who question the way we approach how we live and what we consume . Every week on their blogs, guys like Leo Babauta from Zenhabits, Colin Wright from Exile Lifestyle, and Everett Bogue from Far Beyond the Stars are challenging the traditional notion that we’re defined by the things we own  They’re pioneering a new movement towards simplicity, teaching folks how to focus on doing what’s important rather than buying what’s in fashion. Several of them have even taken minimalism to a whole new level with experiments like the 100 things challenge.

The one criticism I have of these new heralds of minimalism is that some of them consider this movement towards simplicity as a lifestyle choice to be a relatively new phenomenon. They see it as a by-product of the Age of Consumption brought on by the Industrial Revolution. In fact, minimalist principles have been around for centuries, arguably since the beginning of time. Indeed, they were even embraced, espoused, and exalted by some of the most powerful figures of the ancient world.

Here are just a few examples of manly men who used simplicity as a tool for change, the means which allowed them to focus on the essential matters of their time. Their words show the importance they placed on living what we know to be a minimalist life.

JESUS – Prophet | Healer

I mention him first because he is clearly the most recognizable and of all ancient minimalists. Jesus was, perhaps rivaled only by Lao Tzu and Ghandi, the consummate embodiment of simple living.

“What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul.”

CONFUCIUS – Philosopher | Chinese Mystic

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”

Thousands of years later, after all the developments in equipment, resources, and technologies, I still consider Confucius’ ancient premise to be true. When you cut through all the red tape, I think you too will find that living a good, healthy, and fulfilling life really isn’t all that complicated.

LAO TZU – Philosopher | Scholar

A Chinese philosopher from the sixth century BC, Lao Tzu is widely regarded as the father of Taoism.

“Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”

“Manifest plainness, embrace simplicity, reduce selfishness, have few desires.”

SOCRATES – Philosopher

“The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.”

MARCUS AURELIUS – Emperor | Philosopher | General

“Make thyself all simplicity.”

“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.”

“Let no act be done without a purpose.”

“From my mother, piety and beneficence, and abstinence, not only from evil deeds, but even from evil thoughts; and further, simplicity in my way of living, far removed from the habits of the rich.”

LEONARDO DA VINCI – Inventor | Painter | Sculptor

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

HENRY DAVID THOREAU - Writer | Philosopher

“Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say let your affairs be as one, two, three and to a hundred or a thousand. We are happy in proportion to the things we can do without.”

“Be wary of any enterprise that requires new clothes.”

“Our life is frittered away by detail… Simplify, simplify, simplify! … Simplicity of life and elevation of purpose.”

“As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.”

RALPH WALDO EMERSON – Philosopher | Author

“To be simple is to be great.”

“We ascribe beauty to that which is simple; which has no superfluous parts; which exactly answers its end.”

LEO TOLSTOY – Author | Essayist | Educational Reformer

“There is no greatness where there is not simplicity.”

ALBERT EINSTEIN – Physicist | Nuclear Scientist | Scholar

“Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”

“People love chopping wood. In this activity one immediately sees results.”

“I believe that a simple and unassuming manner of life is best for everyone, best both for the body and the mind.”

MAHATMA GHANDI – Minimalist | Spiritual Leader | Lawyer

“Live simply, so others may simply live.”

SIR LAWRENCE OLIVIER – Actor | Director

“I take a simple view of living. It is, keep your eyes open and get on with it.”

MARTIN LUTHER KING – Pastor | Orator | Civil Rights Activist

Martin Luther King may not have been a minimalist in the way you and I might define it today, but he represents a more profound definition of minimalism: He lived for the strength of his idea, which was rooted in the simplicity of conviction through a singularity of purpose:  to serve.

ALFRED HITCHCOCK – Film Director

“Stay out of jail.”

What Makes Minimalism Manly

It’s no coincidence that all of these men, among many others, should find value and meaning in living frugally, thinking simply, and emphasizing necessity over desire. Many of these men were able to achieve great feats in the name of progress because of their ability to focus on only that which really mattered. They had clarity of purpose, discipline of action, and disdain of distraction.

Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why applying minimalism aligns congruently with the values of being a man in the modern age.

1. Ownership. In many ways ownership has been the flagship of the American Dream. We seem to be defined by what we own or do not own. People may react to material things temporally, but they have no lasting impact on the legacy you leave behind. At the end of the day, nobody cares how big your house was, or what car you drove. True ownership lies in the strength of our ideas and our values, and how we choose to apply them to the common cause of our civilization: progress.

2. Action. A man is defined by the actions he takes, not the money he makes. Men love taking action. One of the things that makes communication difficult between men and women is how we react to problems that arise. A man’s first instinct is to come up with a solution and immediately take the required steps to implement it. A women is more concerned with understanding the nature of the problem and talking through it. Guided by minimalism, a man trains himself to focus on only that which matters, which in turn determines the actions he should take.

3. Focus. Men have an innate ability to focus intently, but we often choose the wrong things to fixate on. We fancy sports cars, power boats, big screen plasma TVs, and 12-packs of beer while we watch the game. Eliminating some of these desires lets us focus on achieving what really defines us: the legacy we leave behind to our children, our neighbors, and our society.

4. Integrity. The truth never lies. Sometimes it can be hard to accept, but if you keep things simple, that shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Sticking to the truth itself is quite a simple endeavor. Resist the temptation to aggrandize, embellish and stretch the reality of your situation and circumstances. That is one of the manliest things you can do.

5. Inspiration. We guys tend to shun sappy talk of inspiration, but few of us can deny we have been moved by a great many events in our life. Minimalism puts us in tune with our senses, slows life down, and allows us to be inspired by the small and simple things we wouldn’t normally notice.

6. Innovation. Minimalism is an incredibly effective tool in spurring innovation. The simplest inventions in our history have had the most impact. Think of the plough, it doesn’t get any simpler than that, and yet it fundamentally changed the nature of how we get our food, and society as a whole.

7. Relationships. I have a hard time figuring out why so many men struggle with their relationships. Relationships are all about value. It’s about what you give and what you get back. Eliminate relationships that add more drama than value, and focus on those that give and take in relatively equal measure. Love, Listen, and Respect. It really is that easy.

8. Entrepreneurship. One of the hardest components of starting your own small business is securing the venture capital to cover the initial costs of getting your start-up off the ground. Applying minimalist principles allows you to keep costs down and requires a smaller investment up front. It will let you build up equity you can then invest back to spur more growth. Leveraging the power of the internet to reach a mass audience is a great way to do this

9. Exercise. We all watched Rocky V when it was Sly vs. Ivan Drago. Are you Stallone? Or are you Lundgren? I’m Stallone. I say forgo the gimmicky training programs that rely on heavy machinery to build up muscle and strengthen endurance. Use your own weight to strengthen your core. Push-ups, sit-ups, lunges, and yoga are all you need. Pick a sport and getting fit is a lot more fun.

10. Travel. Cutting down on the things you buy, own, and want increases the capital you can allocate to doing more rewarding activities like traveling. Every man should be an adventurer. As men, we were born to explore the edges of our existence. That includes traveling to the ends of both our world and our consciousness. Bring less stuff, and you’ll be able to do more stuff while you’re there.

11. Health. Eat less meat. Eat more fish. Drink less alcohol. Don’t smoke (I admittedly still do). Increase intake of fruits and vegetables. Eat smaller portions. Exercise for at least 30 minutes three times a week. Simple.

___________________________________
Gianpaolo Pietri is an architect, blogger, brand designer, and entrepreneur. He’s a committed minimalist and the author of the upcoming Revolution 2.1. His blueprint for how we should live consists of 5 simple principles: Minimalism, Mobility, Entrepreneurship, Sustainability, and Adaptability. You can subscribe to his RSS feed, or follow him on Twitter.

{ 94 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ray - Pure Spontaneity October 13, 2010 at 10:32 pm

Why eat less meat? Where did that come from? I guess if you are da Vinci and you’ve sadly taken a vegetarian lifestyle you wouldn’t want meat. I think its insanely manly to eat man’s natural energy source of animal organs, fats, and muscles, in that priority.

2 Jake October 13, 2010 at 10:32 pm

Great post! My family and I just had a weekend where we, in anticipation of upcoming birthdays and Christmas, said, “OK, we will not buy any presents for anyone in this house, until we clear out the clutter in this house”. it was not easy, and wife and son wanted to hold onto more that I did, but even spending 1/2 a day on it forced us to focus on how much we have, how little we need, and how blessed (materially and otherwise) we really are as a family.

3 Adventure-Some Matthew October 13, 2010 at 10:41 pm

I’ve been trying out the 100 Thing Challenge this month, and actually haven’t noticed any difference in my life! (That’s 100 personal things, not total.)

I love how you mention that minimalism isn’t a new concept. I have considered that minimalism is the more natural state of being, up until the industrial revolution. Generally, if it wasn’t functional, it wasn’t created. Those items that were created were often beautiful, but form followed function.

4 Chris kavanaugh October 13, 2010 at 10:45 pm

The post hippie 60s saw the brief and fascinating homesteading movement. People armed with the FOXFIRE series, a Lehman’s hardware catalog, Mother Earth Journal
and The Draft Horse Primer ‘left the grid’ and in varying success stories created a sub culture-and industry often respraypainted in camouflage by the survivalist communities that endures today.
Those who failed came ‘back’ with a great epiphany: The Simple Life isn’t. Sometimes samll changes have big consequences. Cattle, more than any other aside from the Dog have been the currency of change. The caves of Altamira, the frescos of Crete and a paperback copy of Hemingway’s DEATH IN THE AFTERNOON give testament to this animal,good or bad.
I like fish. I like to watch my gouramis in the aquarium, flyfish catch and release and watch pretty girls in bikinis behind sunglasses while dining on fish and chips with a beer.
I do not like factory fish farming with huge drift nets left to become death traps, frankinsalmon, California fishermen killing and maiming pelicans and sealions or canadian’s clubbing furseal pups in the name of ‘saving’ ever declining fish stocks thought to be inexaustable by a exploding human population that once thought trees and passenger pigeons were too.
It isn’t so simple sometimes.

5 Steve October 13, 2010 at 11:16 pm

‘A man’s first instinct is to come up with a solution and immediately take the required steps to implement it. A women is more concerned with understanding the nature of the problem and talking through it.’

You obviously haven’t met my wife.

6 Martin Schatz October 14, 2010 at 12:08 am

@ Chris Kavanaugh – I believe I understand what you are getting at, but at least by my lights, minimalism does not require any “back to the earth” type of movement, although it certainly can. Minimalism is a clear action taken by an individual to define what is most important to him/her and focusing on that, while letting the unimportant slide.

7 A. Pearce October 14, 2010 at 12:44 am

“9. Exercise. We all watched Rocky V when it was Sly vs. Ivan Drago. Are you Stallone? Or are you Lundgren? I’m Stallone. I say forgo the gimmicky training programs that rely on heavy machinery to build up muscle and strengthen endurance. Use your own weight to strengthen your core. Push-ups, sit-ups, lunges, and yoga are all you need. Pick a sport and getting fit is a lot more fun.”

I gotta disagree with this point. Dolph Lundgren is THE MAN. He’s a boxer, a blackbelt, a pentathelete, a Swedish amphibious Army ranger, holds a master’s degree in chemical engineering, speaks 7 languages and supposedly kept up full-speed with Jet Li while filming his fight scene for The Expendables. If you’re looking for a modern-day renaissance man, look no further than Lundgren.

Great article.

8 Chris Kavanaugh October 14, 2010 at 2:05 am

Martin
This stage in my life, and I dare say many more in this most viscous of cyclical economic downturns sees a clarification of both materialism and many more isms.
My possessions are few, relative to many California working class men: And let’s remember if you get a paycheck from somebody else’s largess niceties like upper middleclass means squat.
But to a upper amazonian indigenous people who have still avoided contact, my junk is probably as overwhelming in bulk as it is in novelty. Hominids made do with a lithic hand axe, the swiss army knife of more days than modern man has, and may see. Move forward to the explosion of specialised tools, art, indications of early music with Cro Magnon and one could philosophically say ‘oh they were the proto materialists with atl atls vs thrusting spears expressing the first Ferraris vs volkswagons.
Minimalism is an attractive idea with great applied merit. It can fail when a studied paucity of choices becomes a sort of studied medicroty of false asceticism.

9 Robert October 14, 2010 at 5:10 am

Although I agree with this post and the benefits of simplicity, simplifying Jesus Christ to a prophet/healer is not manly.

10 Ramūnas October 14, 2010 at 5:25 am

Great post. But I have the same question as Ray. What’s with the “eat less meat” ?

11 Siddesh October 14, 2010 at 6:57 am

I enjoyed reading your blog post. I am an advocate of minimalism myself. However, I would like to point out an error which has occurred too many times on this blog; its ‘Gandhi’ not ‘Ghandi’. Thank you very much!

12 Ed October 14, 2010 at 8:08 am

I did enjoy the article but I have to agree with Robert on simplifying Jesus. Being nailed to a cross and dying for your sins, not so simple. Give JC his props.

13 Bill October 14, 2010 at 8:17 am

Rocky IV is Sly v Drago… Rock V is Sly v Tommy Gunn.

14 Bill October 14, 2010 at 8:18 am

Rocky V, rather.

15 Chris October 14, 2010 at 8:35 am

I’m a new reader to “Art of Manliness” and the articles embody a lot of the things I have been thinking and acting on in recent years. This article is well written and makes a lot of sense, except for one thing, the word minimalism/minimalist. Simply put, I think the writer has confused “Simplicity” with “Minimalism”. For some reason, I have spent a lot of time thinking about these two words and their meanings lately.

Minimalism is a movement, a fad and an arrogance. It is pursued by people who have a messiah/sacrificial complex. They want to “sacrifice” for the greater good. Maybe it’s me, but I can’t stand to read a “minimalist” or “zen”-like article. Don’t get me wrong, I believe the concepts are similar, but the attitude is much different.

The best definition I could come up with (a week ago) for simplicity was one word: SMART. No, it’s not an acronym for anything. Simplicity is Smart (look it up in the dictionary I think you’ll be surprised). Simplicity is about all the points in this article.

Look at the quotes in this article. There isn’t a single quote that mentions “Minimalism”. But most of the quotes mention “simple” or “simplicity”.

Simplicity is manly. Minimalism is not manly.

As manly men we shouldn’t strive for minimalism. We should strive for Simplicity. If you think my points are moot please take a few minutes or days to mull it over. Minimalism does not equal Simplicity.

16 Geh October 14, 2010 at 8:57 am

Nice roundup of quotes, but a bit heavy on the general platitudes. “Exercise 3 times a week”, “Eat less meat”, “Love, listen and respect” — like, really? I’ve read bumper sticks with more profundity.

By the way, Einstein had virtually nothing to do with nuclear development: http://www.doug-long.com/einstein.htm

Sorry to be such a harsh critic, but I feel like you wasted my time. The editorializing in this article amounts to little more than cliched fluff: “We fancy sports cars, power boats, big screen plasma TVs, and 12-packs of beer while we watch the game.” — “We” do? Oh right, “we” are so naive and mundane, running around in our mindless rat trap, chasing our silly toys, until you enlightened us.

Try less patronization, dude.

If there’s one thing that bugs me about AoM, it’s the occasional dip into this tired “materialism is bad, is good” crap. No, “materialism” is not bad. Rewards are simply an artifact of success. I work pretty damn hard, so ya, I’m gonna enjoy my “sports car, power boat, big screen plasma TV, and 12-pack of beer while I watch the game”. Your contempt is not appreciated.

Go have another smoke and think about it.

17 shiv October 14, 2010 at 9:04 am

i enjoy reading your blog, though i seldom comment.
But one error I couldn’t help noticing prompted me to do so.
It’s ‘Gandhi’, and not ‘Ghandi’.
I now see Siddesh has already pointed that out, but then, oh well.

Thank you.

18 Ben October 14, 2010 at 9:53 am

It is a good article, and I would agree that the simplifying our lives to the things that really matter is important, not to mention manly. However the stress laid on certain things (meat?) is generally different for each person, and the legacy we leave behind isn’t the only thing that matters. So while I agree with the parts about simplifying to what matters most is good, I disagree with some of what matters most. Also simplifying JC to a Prophet/Healer isn’t a good idea, definitely give him his props. Takes way more than minimalism to walk willingly into one of the most horrific and painful deaths known to man, in exchange for nothing but us. :)

19 Austin October 14, 2010 at 9:55 am

I agree with Robert and Ed. You shouldn’t reduce Jesus Christ to a “Prophet” or “Healer”. He is God’s son, the Savior of the world, whether you personally recognize that or not.

20 Wolf Pascoe October 14, 2010 at 9:57 am

There’s an old Chinese proverb: He who obtains has little. He who scatters has much.
Alfred North Whitehead said: Seek simplicity. And distrust it.

21 Aaron October 14, 2010 at 9:59 am

I’m with Robert and Ed on this one. All other parts of this article are good.

22 ADay October 14, 2010 at 9:59 am

Agreeing with Robert and Ed. Thats like saying Payton Manning is known for his ability to put his helment on his head all by himself. Yeah he does it but its the tip of the iceburg.

23 ADay October 14, 2010 at 10:04 am

I agree with the posters above about the noting on Jesus. It’s like saying MLK was know for his sense of style and the suits he wore.

24 jens October 14, 2010 at 10:15 am

intresting post!
btw it´s Rocky IV

25 G. October 14, 2010 at 10:47 am

There is a return to nature that has been coming about us and it seems that the principles of minimalism is in-line with this. Anybody recall Ockham’s razor? The principle where “the simplest explanation is usually the correct one”. Maybe this minimalist lifestyle is the answer to how we shall live? Especially since the lifestyle mainstream culture is living certainly seems unsustainable. I agree with the notion that minimalism begets manliness….any man that can make do with less is manlier in my book! Sweet post!

26 Mike October 14, 2010 at 10:56 am

One:
Meat, while it’s the manliest of foods, and my personal favorite, meat also has more protein, fats and cholesterol than is needed by the average Joe.
And like anything else, too much of a good thing, isn’t.
Except for maybe the hardcore weight trainer, like Lundgren or Stallone… and for those who know a thing or two about weight training. Fish is the protein of choice. Not beef.

Two:
Jesus, while he is to many the son of god, and the savior of mankind (which I myself believe). He is not to others. Saying he is a “healer/prophet”, is at the very least, a fact that other religions can accept. Saying he is anything else, is disrespectful, and even insulting to others who do not share those beliefs. Whether it is true or not, is irrelevant in this instance.

For the scope of this blog, it was wise to not delve any deeper than that. He kept it simple, which was the intent of this post.

Cheers.

27 Jared October 14, 2010 at 11:25 am

I agree with Mike-the idea that this writer should have used “Jesus: Prophet/Healer/Son of God/Savior” is pretty ridiculous and narrow minded. Not everyone believes those things about who Jesus was, including me. If he had done that I would have been put off-there’s no need to give “JC his props” on a secular blog. This is a secular blog, right?

28 Alexander Verbree October 14, 2010 at 11:32 am

@ Mike:

Thank you. For both of these. I would say more, but I think we should focus on the article and its meaning and not people’s personal views on religion. Any time a religious figure’s name is mentioned, all conversation has a nasty tendency to go downhill. What other topic has the ability to turn intellectuals into schoolyard children?

Forgive me for rambling on,

eerbrev

29 David Trotter October 14, 2010 at 11:44 am

Great post that inspires self-reflection. Call it what you want – simplicity, minimalism, or smart – the more ‘stuff’ you have, the more you have to take care of it. Stuff isn’t good, bad, right, or wrong, but it definitely limits my options. I have to pay for it, maintain it, fix it, insure it, and oftentimes worry about it. It can weigh me down. I want to own some stuff…but not let it own me.

30 James October 14, 2010 at 11:58 am

Not sure than this is the right way to portray the idea of minimalism. Asceticism, yes. Not all men are content with ascetism, which is why few parttake in it. Diets suck. Also, eleven ways to become a minimalist isn’t minimalist. And men are to follow principle and not be impulsive, but precise in their actions. This article is Transcendentalism and does not categorize well with the three American ideals of manhood (except perhaps the Artisan…maybe). It is too touchy, feely and emotions are not simple, nor minimal. Just watch House.

31 DR October 14, 2010 at 12:04 pm

“But lo! men have become the tools of their tools.” Poignant passage from Thoreau’s Walden below:

I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself than be crowded on a velvet cushion. I would rather ride on earth in an ox cart, with a free circulation, than go to heaven in the fancy car of an excursion train and breathe a malaria all the way. The very simplicity and nakedness of man’s life in the primitive ages imply this advantage, at least, that they left him still but a sojourner in nature. When he was refreshed with food and sleep, he contemplated his journey again. He dwelt, as it were, in a tent in this world, and was either threading the valleys, or crossing the plains, or climbing the mountain-tops. But lo! men have become the tools of their tools. The man who independently plucked the fruits when he was hungry is become a farmer; and he who stood under a tree for shelter, a housekeeper. We now no longer camp as for a night, but have settled down on earth and forgotten heaven. We have adopted Christianity merely as an improved method of agriculture. We have built for this world a family mansion, and for the next a family tomb. The best works of art are the expression of man’s struggle to free himself from this condition, but the effect of our art is merely to make this low state comfortable and that higher state to be forgotten.

32 Thomas October 14, 2010 at 12:22 pm

This is a very timely and important article for me. I became physically disabled in September of 2004 and after these past six years of injury, pain, and medication I feel like I’m just now waking up like Rip Van Winkle. Surgery this past March has gotten me up again, not whole, but better. It’s time to undo a lot of what accumulated over the last six years. Thanks.

33 Brian October 14, 2010 at 12:25 pm

I am a huge Art of Manliness fan, and this is the worst post I have ever read on this site.

The writer manages simultaneously to (attempt to) demote Christ, prop up the lifestyles of Thoreau and Emerson, get his Rocky movies all wrong (it was Rocky IV, not V to which he refers) and worst of all: recommends yoga, easily the most effeminate trend among modern-day men. #Fail

34 Ashton October 14, 2010 at 12:25 pm

This is what I love about AoM! While several readers, including myself, believe Jesus Christ to be the Son of God and accept Him as our Saviour, there are other readers who do not. Yet a civil discourse can take place in the comments section with people expressing their differing thoughts on the author’s chosen words to identify Jesus without the interactions deteriorating to childish insult slinging.

Great post Gianpaolo. Simple suggestions on simple living with a bit extra struck up in the comments.

35 Martin Schatz October 14, 2010 at 12:35 pm

@ Chris Kavanaugh

Thanks for the response, but I am having a hard time following your point. Yes, compared to your Amazonian indigent, the most “minimalistic” American is grossly materialistic. Compared to a good part of the world, that would be true.

I do not see why that is a valid argument for an individual to not “minimize” where he can, based on his current situation. Your initial comment was comparing this article to a “back to the land” movement of the ’60′s, but I don’t see it. Many of the examples the author used are urban dwellers. The basic point (as I saw it), was that minimizing one’s possessions, commitments and responsibilities will allow that individual to focus on what is truly important to them. This seems to be a completely unique action that each man must decide for himself. What is most important to me? What can I do without of in order to focus my talents on those most important goals, values, people, etc.?

While I have certainly read articles on the subject that are more rigid in determining “the way,” I did not get that sense here.

36 Eliot Tedcastle October 14, 2010 at 2:02 pm

Ah, religion is such a touchy issue… Christ, speaking the words of God, was thus a prophet, and since he healed, he was thus a healer. (It is, of course, much deeper than that (see John 9 and the blind man), but the author of the post was correct, and according to the nature and purpose of this blog, it’s not very appropriate for an author to espouse certain religious views.)

Now, why wasn’t Francesco of Assisi up there? If there was ever a minimalist, it was him.

37 Gianpaolo October 14, 2010 at 2:22 pm

I have tried to respond to most of the comments, but my responses don’t seem to be registering. As I try this again, for now I will just say that Eliot and Mike have correctly interpreted the way I chose to portray Jesus, which was to be as respectful as possible to All the readers of AOM. I myself am a catholic, though I don’t practice as strictly as some of my friends and family, and have my own views about Jesus, but it is important to recognize how others may see him as well, especially in such an open forum as is AOM.

“Christ, speaking the words of God, was thus a prophet, and since he healed, he was thus a healer. (It is, of course, much deeper than that (see John 9 and the blind man), but the author of the post was correct, and according to the nature and purpose of this blog, it’s not very appropriate for an author to espouse certain religious views.)”

I think this sums it up pretty well.

As for the meat issue, Mike is right on.

“Meat, while it’s the manliest of foods, and my personal favorite, meat also has more protein, fats and cholesterol than is needed by the average Joe.
And like anything else, too much of a good thing, isn’t.
Except for maybe the hardcore weight trainer, like Lundgren or Stallone… and for those who know a thing or two about weight training. Fish is the protein of choice. Not beef.”

If this comment finally registers, I will address other concerns in more detail.

Francesco? How could I forget. Thanks for bringing it up, Eliot. Though I am sure there are many, many others.

38 ARP October 14, 2010 at 2:52 pm

Brian:

Re: JC, I think the author was trying to be respectful by using the “least common denominator.” Most major religions accept JC as at least these things, with Christainity promoting him to Son of God. So, he’s not “domoting” JC as much as he’s trying to create a consensus. Being angry that someone doesn’t believe what you believe isn’t manly either. A person can have the “right” values and take a different path to reach them.

Buddha would have been another good example. After all, he’s a religious figure who lived a simple life. In fact, the entire religion/philosophy is based on not becoming attached to things.

Re: Yoga. Why is yoga effeminate? There’s nothing intrinsically effeminate about yoga, you seem to be attaching cultural norms to it. The Art of Maniless isn’t about simply fulfilling the traditional view/actions of men (although there is some element of that), its about promoting the right traditions and view of men- that includes men that are in touch with their feelings, goals, inspriations, values etc. Now if there are other ways to accomplish the same thing, as yoga, you’re free to try that. Me? I run and I try to meditate. Honestly, I should give Yoga a shot because it does both things at once and would save me time.

Re Meat: Meat is certainly manly, but having too much of it is bad for you. If you have a family or loved ones, you want to try to live a long healthy life so that you’re there to support them. It doesn’t mean you have to deny yourself of anything tasty for the sake of health, but there is a balance to be had.

39 Gianpaolo October 14, 2010 at 2:57 pm

Ok, so here we go:

@Ray I love meat. I used to eat it everyday. I just think people should consider eating less of it, and occassionally trade it in for leaner foods such as fish, which as Mike says, are a better source of protein. I by no means am suggesting vegetarianism as a lifestyle, though it would be interesting to do a trial to see what it’s like. As a man, nothing is off the table in terms of what works and what doesn’t.

@Chris Kavanaugh point taken. It is a good one.

@Jake you and your family seem to be on the right track. keep it up. I like that you are intilling the value of simplicity in your son early, so he understands not to get caught up in distractions that may keep him from following his dream. As someone inching closer and closer to living the way I want, I have only been able to do this by reducing the things that distract from fulfilling my purpose.

@Jared you got it.

@DR great passage.

@Thomas it is an honor for me to contribute some light into your day. Anything you need, shoot me an e-mail gianpaolo.pietri@gmail.com and we can talk more. Good luck with your recovery.

@Brian sorry you feel that way. It was not my intention. Apologies for mispelling which Rocky movie I was referring to. I didn’t realize how important that was to you.

@Eliot @Mike @Ashton you guys got what I was shooting for.

@James too touchy feely? I’m not sure what that means.

@ Martin Schatz I’m with ya.

@Steve Ha! She must be quite a lady.

@Geh maybe my tone came off in a way that was offensive to you. It was not my intent. I love sports car, beer, and power boats as much as the next guy. But let’s be honest they are distractions that take a way from doing meaningful work. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t enjoy them, but it is important to put them in their proper perspective. Perhaps you disagree. That’s the beauty of forums like this. The conversation and disagreements about the nature, intent, and validity of certain topics that sites like AOM facilitate. I respect your position.

Overall I find the conversation has been wonderful with lots of great opinions on a matter that has a different level of validity for all of us. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts guys.

40 Gianpaolo October 14, 2010 at 3:03 pm

@ ARP Great comment! I couldn’t have said it better myself. Especially your thoughts on yoga. I don’t see anything effeminate about it either. It’s something I’ve been toying with only recently.

In fact I snowboard and am an avid cyclist, as well. Sure I used to play football, and lacrosee as a kid growing up, but those aren’t accessible to me right now. So I stick to push-ups, sit-ups and anything I can do using my own body weight. It may not be the best strategy but it works very well for me, and means I can do it anywhere. Makes life much easier. Yoga is a great way to use your body weight to strengthen muscles and maximize flexibility.

41 Colin October 14, 2010 at 3:06 pm

Wow- I’m surprised by all the negative feedback. I think this is a great post, thanks!

42 Gianpaolo October 14, 2010 at 3:21 pm

@Colin I was a little taken aback as well, but I can see where most of it comes from. We are all men of parts. I can tell you, my parts don’t always fit in the puzzle that is my life, but that’s what makes us men, isn’t it? Thanks for chiming in.

43 Jack October 14, 2010 at 3:26 pm

Listen to me, everyone….whining is not manly.

44 Bryan Schatz October 14, 2010 at 3:44 pm

I really enjoyed this post. It discusses issues that my brother and I have been discussing quite a lot lately, and at the very least, made me consider the things that I value personally to see how and where I can improve them. Thanks.

45 MAG October 14, 2010 at 3:56 pm

Albert Einstein also wrote, “Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

Minimalism and simplicity are not virtues.

46 Gianpaolo Pietri October 14, 2010 at 3:57 pm

@Brian glad you enjoyed it. If you want to discuss more about the process feel free to e-mail me at gianpaolo.pietri@gmail.com. Kudos to you and your bro!

47 Gianpaolo October 14, 2010 at 4:05 pm

@MAG but they are a very effective means to an end. They are lifestyle tools that can lead to virtuous action.

48 jay sauser October 14, 2010 at 4:34 pm

That was good. My wife and I barely have money…making me extremely manly! hahaha

49 Peter October 14, 2010 at 4:38 pm

Loved the post. I have been buying a lot of crap lately off ebay, and this article really hit home. I also loved one of the websites that you add a link to. That’s one of the things that I love about AOM. Every article has just enough information to get you interested, and then it shows you where to find even more information on a subject!

50 Chris Kavanaugh October 14, 2010 at 4:53 pm

My conservative jewish aunt Yola didn’t have a problem with Jesus, or Rebi Yeshua
and celebrated Christmas with a tree and the explanation ‘why waste a perfectly good holiday?’ The west has many aunt Yolas as families see beloved members often practicing semingly exclusive belief systems. I am orthodox christian myself; and to paraphrase a well known orthodox teacher I will be suprised and delighted if I enter heaven, and even more so at who I see there. I fully expect the Mohatma (sp?) Gandhi, the Buddha, Aunt Yola, and my german shepherd Frosty, especially Frosty.
But I think it a false conceit we show respect to other beliefs by retrofitting philosophical smog devises on ours. To a buddhist, Guatama Siddhartha is the enlightened one, not Doctor Phil. Need I comment on any perceived slight to Mahomet ? South Park can rip on JC but withdrew a show on Islam. And it goes on, with wiccans claiming slander over showing the Wizard of Oz . Here’s a SIMPLE idea: We all know lots of people accept Jesus as saviour and an expression of the Trinity.
We don’t need asteriks like baseball records for somebody who hasn’t noticed.

51 Dan October 14, 2010 at 4:57 pm

It’s actually Rocky IV where he fights Ivan Drago, in Rocky V he fights Tommy Gun, the young upstart whom he trained himself. Other than that, I liked the post a great deal!

52 Gianpaolo October 14, 2010 at 5:05 pm

@Chris Kavanaugh you’re point is valid and well received.

53 Kate October 14, 2010 at 6:00 pm

Gianpaolo-

Chris’ point is not valid I’m afraid. AoM is not a religious blog. It is a place that welcomes men of every faith or no faith at all. No non-religious publication that I know of would label Jesus as “Son of God/Savior.” It does not matter that a great many people accept him as thus.

54 Hondo October 14, 2010 at 6:36 pm

Simplicity is desirable yes, minimalism is often self masterbatory arrogance by hippies, artist, and environmental whack jobs who like to pat themselves on the back for not having a lot of “things”. To me this talk of minimalism sounds like more trendy “green” nonsense, especially with the yoga and less meat remarks might as well have thrown in “get a smart car and a solar panels”. Chris in comment 15 I feel was dead on the money.

What I would consider “manly” is simplicity. Simplicity does not forbid or chastise you from having things, there is nothing wrong with having things just as there is nothing wrong with having wants or desires. What simplicity does is ask that your priorities be in line that you can afford to have these things, that your needs and priorities are filled before wants are addressed. Personally I think having credit cards and debt are childish and about as far from manly as possible minus watching the Bravo channel. If you cannot afford something do not purchase it do not let the things that you own become a weight around your ankle dragging you deeper into debt. Show some maturity and patience and wait until you can afford those things. The borrower becomes slave to the lendor. Think simply. Live simply. That I can agree with.

Not having things just for the sake of not having things does not equal simplicity. Minimalism is for trendy types, simplicity is for men.

55 Gianpaolo October 14, 2010 at 7:18 pm

@Hondo you’re getting bogged down in semantics. I used the word minimalism because it makes for a better title. There is nothing hippie, left-wing, or environmental about me except that I believe we should act responsibly in creating an environment that is active, healthy and conducive to future generations to come.

I agree with your point about credit cards and debt. I have none of either. You’re second paragraph is in line with what I was getting at. The word one uses to describe it is irrelevant in my view.

56 RP October 14, 2010 at 7:38 pm

@Gianpaolo: I think Hondo, like myself, is a bit fed up with the many self-congratulatory minimalist bloggers out there who write glowing posts about how they own < 100 items. (I think the latest challenge is to own fewer than 50.) Minimalism evokes an aesthetic principle and annoying blogosphere trend. I think it's about connotation, and not necessarily semantics.

57 James Strock October 14, 2010 at 8:06 pm

Excellent post! The historical reminders are very timely.

58 Big Fully October 14, 2010 at 8:19 pm

This was a great post. It may seem strange but I feel happier and more at ease when I am staying in a hotel. It is not just because I am on vacation, because many times I am not but on business or at a conference. But the simplicity of what I have before me is relaxing. My “stuff” isn’t laying around everywhere eating at my mind. Out of sight out of mind. And it is so nice to only have the newspaper or magazine and a random book I brought with as the only things to require my attention when I get done for the day. It is simple.

59 Jack October 14, 2010 at 8:54 pm

Hondo and RP…..relax. Really. You’re complicating this. Keep it simple.

60 Hodan October 14, 2010 at 9:02 pm

great post, I’m not a man, but I agree with most of what you have to say on minimalism. I know in my own life, it takes practice to eliminate clutter of thoughts, materials, relationships, etc.

61 Gianpaolo October 14, 2010 at 10:46 pm

@ Big fully. I couldn’t agree more. Love hotels. I’m always better when I’m on the road.

62 Erik Jakobsen October 15, 2010 at 1:35 am

I know this has nothing to do with the article but I am passionate about the ‘eat less red meat’. The only reason red meat is bad for you is because they now feed cows corn. The same ingredient that makes America fat. Cows are meant to eat grass. You can buy grain fed beef still and guess what? Leaner than chicken breast!! Look it up. I buy frozen local grass fed beef. The rest is propaganda of the corn industry. Read Omnivours Dilema for more info.

63 Robert B. October 15, 2010 at 1:41 am

Although AoM is not a religious blog, neither is the Declaration of Independence a religious document. Yet, there is deference to a Creator, the Christian God, that was in line with the belief systems of its writers. I think the same should be applied here. If someone is truly of a certain religious conviction, let them be proud of it and “advertise” it! I know if Gianpaolo was of another faith background I would say the same thing. It’s the whole Merry Christmas paradox all over again. Why should I say Happy Holidays if I celebrate Christmas? You can bet your bottom dollar that I want every Jew I see this December to wish me a Happy Hannukah. If not, they’re not being true to themselves and THAT is what is not manly.

If AoM was truly a blog where we can have a marketplace of ideals, every man should be free (as is true in our nation) to practice AND express their own religion. If someone is offended by a particular viewpoint, then I think they just need to do some re-evaluation on their own part. If they are secure in their convictions, they shouldn’t be uncomfortable and this goes for people who don’t have a faith conviction at all.

I love AoM, I really do. In fact I pray for the success of AoM because I think its an important tool in understanding our basic nature as men so we can throw off our culture’s idea of what it is and return to what it truly is, something that my Catholic fatih affirms quite well. I just want us all to be men who throw off the yoke of “political correctness” especially when it means not being true to who you are.

In the words of St. Francis (since he was mentioned):
Pax et bonum

64 Kate October 15, 2010 at 2:16 am

Robert, there is a great deal of difference between expressing one’s personal religious views to others during the course of one’s day to day life and the standards of neutrality set up by a publication. While AoM would never claim to have the same journalistic standards as a regular newspaper or magazine, it is still a publication with its own standards. It is not a religious magazine. Therefore it is improper for the writers to advocate one religious belief over another, because that would constitute bias. A Christian writer for the Washington Post would not write an article referring to Christ as the Savior of the World. A Muslim writer for the New York Times would not add “peace be upon him” each time he mentioned the prophet Muhammad, although that is part of his faith. This is not a matter of being “true to yourself” or political correctness. It is again simply a matter of neutrality.

A blog is neither a democracy nor a “marketplace of ideals.” The editors and writers set the ideals with their articles. Commenters are then free to agree and disagree in the comments.

65 Robert B. October 15, 2010 at 5:53 am

I don’t think the New York Times or the Washington Post would allow either of those things because they are bastions of anti-Christian journalism and scared of Muslims, but that is besides the point.

A blog post is no more a piece of journalism than the Declaration is. Some would see Gianpaolo’s advocacy for minimalism as a religious conviction and yet that is still allowed.

Pardon me for saying marketplace of ideals, I meant “ideas”. A blog, especially AoM, strives to be a place where different ideas are represented, in this case, about manliness. It doesn’t seem to be manly, as is the purpose of this blog, to not advocate what you personally believe in. I guess that is my main premise.

Also, as far as “day to day life” being different from this, I don’t really see it. Obviously a journalist’s job is to be as free as possible from bias but that doesn’t apply here. Bloggers are not journalists, nor should they be. The “about” section of the website says nothing about not being biased, nor should it. Day to day life for a blogger, is writing posts, so why shouldn’t they advocate their faith in them?

Just the other day there was an article about a devout Catholic man who attempted to skydive from space and there were more than one mention of his faith. It even mentioned him being a “devout Catholic”. This obviously influenced his “manliness” and his pursuits that caused the post to be written. Is that not, in a slight way, an endorsement of a faith that caused someone to be “manly”?

It’s unfortunate the world is so concerned with biases today, when most of them would be gone if we just acted like ourselves in all spheres of life, even when we’re writing for many to see.

Kate, obviously, we are going to disagree and that’s okay because that’s what the comment section is for. I can see where you’re coming from to some extent because it is important to be sensitive to others in so far as keeping them engaged. Do you see any validity to my comments?
Gianpaolo, if you’re still reading these comments, I’d like your input. I still very much agree with the premise of your article and think its a fantastic way to be more ascetic.

Pax et bonum,
Robert

66 Jack October 15, 2010 at 9:05 am

Robert….let it go. This post has nothing to do about religion. There is nothing manly about your quibbling.

67 YY October 15, 2010 at 9:51 am

Interesting post, the above discussion proves it even more so.
Have to disagree with one thing though – Tolstoy wasn’t a “minimalist” in the sense you mean in in the article. He was born into a wealthy family, travelled around the world. Having settled with his young wife he had even wealthier surroundings. He had servants and all the rest typical for a man of his status. He, however, believed in asceticism which can be traced in his works.

68 ARP October 15, 2010 at 3:17 pm

Robert B “Yet, there is deference to a Creator, the Christian God, that was in line with the belief systems of its writers.”

Interesting. Where in the Declaration of Independence does it say that its a Christian God? I’ll help you, nowhere; you’ve added that to insert your own values into history to justify your current worldview. In fact, the original version of the document was even more secular, but was revised slightly to pay tribute to a generic higher power. George Washington was a Deist. Thomas Jefferson was Deist. They were NOT Christians. Deists are not Christians. Also, the phrase you reference is from the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution. If you look at the Constitution, it makes it clear that there should be no religious test to hold office and there is absolutely no mention of a Christian God anywhere. Finally, the Treaty of Tripoli says that we are not a Christian Nation. Please stop imposing your values on the rest of us.

BOT- If people are self-aggrandizing minimalism, then its not really minimalism. They’re making it competitive, complicating it, using it to brag, for their ego, etc. I think the point is that when you mix simplicity with self-confidence, you inevitably should arrive at a (more) minimal life. The reasoning is that many of your things, attachments, behaviors, etc. are often done more to impress others or maintain appearances rather than to fulfill a personal passion, goal, etc. Or, we sometimes buy things, to compensate for the fact that we’re unhappy in other parts of our lives. We hate our jobs, so we buy a big screen TV to help us feel better. The right answer should be to switch jobs (even if its a pay cut), to do the thing that inspires you. Since you’re inspired, you’ll likely have less needs for your toys that you use to distract yourself from the void in your life.

69 Brett McKay October 15, 2010 at 3:23 pm

Part of our comment policy is to keep comments related to the topic of the post. It’s been an interesting threadjack to talk about religion, but that’s not the topic of the article. Therefore, any further comments on the topic will be deleted.

70 Adam Mayfield October 15, 2010 at 6:03 pm

A few years backs I adopted a minimalist attitude with not just my things but all aspects of my life including finance. It’s helped me get out of debt and spend more time focusing on the things that I really enjoy.

While minimalism might to be a new idea I feel it helps get us in touch with our past. Maybe to a simpler time. While the idea spans back some time, it may be more important than ever in our consumerism society.

71 Gianpaolo October 15, 2010 at 6:12 pm

@Adam That’s great. That’s exactly what minimalism does: help us focus on the things that matter. Of course those things vary from person to person. For the things that matter to me, and it seems I am in good company historically, minimalism is effective.

72 Artemus October 15, 2010 at 6:43 pm

As a biologist/naturalist I have been aware of this concept for some time. It has always been referred to as the law of KISS. Thus stated “Keep It Simple, Stupid.”
I must admit however, that any “ism” only confuses me. So I had to look up the definition.

From Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language, complete reference edition:

minimalist n. a person who advocates action of a minimal or conservative kind.

minimal adj. smallest or least possible; of or constituting a minimum.

One cannot get any more simple than that. And least we not forget the consummate “minimalist” George W. Sears, aka: “Nessmuk” (pronounced like knee-book, or knee-mook) who learned and practiced his simplistic skills from a boyhood Indian companion. “Go light; the lighter the better, so that you have the simplest material for health, comfort and enjoyment.” And as long as I’ve mentioned it. The Native Americans were masters in the art of simple minimalist living.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Natura in minima maxima

73 Justin guzman October 15, 2010 at 7:22 pm

Wow some guys seem really offended by the idea of minimalism. It is not less manly to require less in life to be happy. Currently I am delving into the lifestyle and I have found nothing but peace by reducing the clutter around me. It is easier to actually be free to do what I enjoy by not worrying all the time about one upping the “jones” great article I’d love to hear more of your thoughts

74 JK October 15, 2010 at 10:02 pm

I was eager to read this article. Big let-down. I hate to be rude, but this guy’s writing is not up to AOM’s usual quality. It’s your site to do what you want with, but this post would seem more at home in a stack of middle school essays than among the many fine posts on this site. But, you win some, you lose some.

75 Chris Kavanaugh October 16, 2010 at 3:13 am

Understanding minimalism is doomed to failure when people do not understand the ‘opposite.’ A Materialist, by definition is a lover of material. Is there anyone here who would willingly choose a onetime recycled water bottle fleece jacket VS a merino wool sweater? Sometimes exhibiting largess in possessions shows minimalism n longterm impact, see sweater above.
And sometimes behaviours that appear selfish or self encumbering are anything but. The famous WINCHESTER HOUSE with endless rooms and staircases leading nowhere have been labeled the folly of a woman ridden with guilt over the firearm deaths her inheritance was built on. Legend holds a fortune teller told her the spirits would be held back as long as her home was under construction.
Nobody mentions the explanation given by close freinds and relatives. There was a small DEPRESSION going on. The lady gave men both income and DIGNITY through seemingly nonsensical additions. Her house was complicated: Her solution to a societal dilemna simple and elegant.
Different individuals and cultures are like that; including native americans who had their own follies including chaco canyon.

76 Gianpaolo October 16, 2010 at 11:25 am

@Justin that’s great. reducing my possessions has opened up a new world of possibility. Becoming minimal has allowed me to be more mobile, more adaptable, more sustainable, and infinitely more entrepreneurial. I can think of few things that are more manly than that. If you want to read more of my thoughts, you can check out some of the articles on my blog. Brett has been kind enough to provide a link in the bio.

77 Gianpaolo October 16, 2010 at 11:28 am

@JK It’s not rude to be honest. I welcome your criticism. It makes me strive to do better, a very manly quality indeed. But perhaps you missed the premise of the article, which was to keep things simple. In that regard, I shall consider it a success based on your suggestions.

78 Derek Sullivan October 16, 2010 at 7:39 pm

It truly makes me sad that the greatest secret in life – the secret that will bring happiness to yourself and everyone around you – has been known and written about since the beginning of time and still few people acknowledge it.

79 Jeff October 16, 2010 at 8:15 pm

Everything I own can fit in one airline approved carryon bag. I’ve been living this way for about a year and a half. I didn’t do it for religious or philosophical reasons, or to prove a point. Because of some moves I made it was simply the most practical way of ordering my life. In the last six months I have only bought what I needed to replace things that wore out or broke. I am unemployed right now and have little money to mess around with so I can’t have stuff that just occupies space, it has to have genuine utility, and I find that as I have less and less, I need less and less. I think the only item that I genuinely can’t do without is my laptop. One laptop that I had for several years fried about a week ago and even though it was a financial burden I replaced it with a new one; it is simply the easiest way of communicating and cheapest way to entertain myself that I know of. I guess I would not say that what I do is minimalistic so much as it is the conservation of resources. How I will apply this is the future I don’t know, but I will say that this has been a revelation to me and proved the validity in how I have approached a lot of areas in my life, so it has also been rewarding to my sense of self. Right now it is very practical, but I would hardly suggest it for anyone who is not in the situation that I am in.

80 minimalism October 16, 2010 at 9:12 pm

An important reminder of the value of remembering minimalist heritage. Thanks.

I question the gender link to minimalism, though. Many women are minimalists, too, and often less materialistic than, say, male partners. One of the reasons for the dominance of males in the heritage list relates to the historical relationship between gender and power.

Naturally, as I am merely an idea, I have no gender at all…

81 Corsicanhawk October 17, 2010 at 2:19 pm

Very provocative article, as we can see from all the comments. Well written and thought provoking. I will bookmark it for future reference and re-reading. The comments add depth and value to the post: kudos to all participants.

@Geh: take a chill pill, man. You don’t have to take everything literally. I, too, love sports cars, and will continue to collect them to the best of my ability. That is not at odds with anything Gianpaolo said. Neither is loving sports, as most of us do. And about the meat: talk to any doctor, or better yet, any oncologist. EAT LESS MEAT!!! It will be good for you!! And that doesn’t mean dropping it completely from your diet!!

@JK: are you a high school English teacher who thinks he belongs on the Yale compared literature faculty? Come on!! Get a life, dude.

Overall, Gianpaolo, not only did I appreciate your ideas, but I also thank you for steering me to Art of Manliness, which I have now discovered and intend to continue participating in.

@Thomas: give ‘em hell, man. You are more than up to it. We are all pulling for you. You the man!!! The most inspiration that I take away from reading this post was your comment, BY FAR!!!!!!!!!

AOM: Congratulations on a superlative blog!!! You have one new convert!!

82 Dave9 October 17, 2010 at 3:25 pm

Embrace the concept of Shibumi:
“It is a statement so correct that it does not have to be bold, so poignant that it does not have to be pretty, so true it does not have to be real.”

83 JCauto October 17, 2010 at 11:33 pm

Decent article, with the obvious error of thinking that bodyweight exercises are the be all and end all of physical fitness. This is a conceit shared by the military and law enforcement leadership that I have been subject to and it never fails to leave me scratching my head in confusion.

Squats, deadlifts, overhead presses with iron. THAT is the real way to strength and manliness. No one cares how many pushups you can do if you weigh 140 lbs.

84 Mikey October 19, 2010 at 4:25 pm

@JCauto no one cares how many dead-lifts you can do if you can’t run 1/4 mile. It’s all about being well-rounded.

85 J James October 20, 2010 at 9:21 am

Song of Solomon7:29
…God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.

86 Lucia October 24, 2010 at 10:15 pm

alas, as a woman and civil engineer (and regular reader of the AOM, zenhabits e.a.) I find inspiration and food for my thoughts with this post – thank you.
usually I do not comment and just wanted to seize the moment to do so now.

est modus in rebus
grazie, Lucia

87 Jeff October 27, 2010 at 4:10 pm

One way to simplify one’s life is to ignore the din and remain true to one’s own preferences (provided those preferences don’t harm others). So smoke if you want to smoke, and refuse to be hectored.
Simpler is not always easier.

88 pal October 27, 2010 at 10:11 pm

As a minister, I have really enjoyed all of the comments that have been offered. It seems that almost everyone here has picked out one facet or another of the article to focus on. But the real strength of the wisdom of “Minimalism” is the freedom that it affords. Freedom to do the important things with our lives; freedom to dedicate ourselves to our families and friends; freedom to mature and grow up; freedom to enjoy life without all the emotional and material clutter.

89 BH October 30, 2010 at 2:42 am

I consider myself a minimalist in some ways because I share a house with roomates, have few electronics, modest clothes, limited home furnishings and cookware, etc. This is not out of necessity as I could certainly afford a much higher “standard of living.” On the other hand, I have a garage full of wetsuits, kayaks, fishing, hunting & camping equipment, diviing gear, tools, BBQ and homebrew supplies. Is all of this stuff contrary to a minimalist lifestyle? I would say, “no” since these items are a source of entertainment, sustenance and self reliance for me.

I’m wondering if this resonates with anyone else or does it sound like I have a lot of crap?

90 Army Man October 31, 2010 at 12:48 am

Great advice!! As a military family we keep our “stuff” to a minimum to make moving easier. While deployed in Afghanistan I keep it simple-a bed, my gear, an IPod, and a few books. The 11 points above are things we try to teach the soldiers to make life easier here. Some get it and some don’t. Now I just have to be home long enough to teach my son…

Again, great points.

91 BH October 31, 2010 at 1:19 am

Simplicity vs Minimalism. Meat vs Vegetables. Sports Cars vs. ???. Bodyweight vs. Weights. I think some folks are missing the boat on this article. We all have things. Cars, scuba gear, hunting gear, and other stuff. Was Gianpaolo’s point to make us choose between meat or fruit? Nope. Look in the mirror. Look at your life. Look at what you use. Then decide if you need both an XBox and PS3. I drink beer and smoke cigars, but I do it in moderation like my grandfather taught me. I run 6 miles a day but I don’t knock the guys who pump iron becuase we all have our strengths and weaknesses. The real stregth of men is combining those strengths to work together and accomplish something instead of sniping our differences. If you can live minimally and it works-great. If you can live simply-great. The point is to not live for stuff or let things control us.

92 Paul November 5, 2010 at 3:54 pm

Regarding not eating meat as a virtue of minimalism, it takes much, much more land, water, and energy to provide a kilo of meat protein than vegetable protein. If taking care of your environment is a positive, then eating less meat is also a positive.

I love eating meat, but only three or four times a month. Moderation adds to the pleasure – perhaps another benefit of minimalisation!

93 Meurig November 8, 2010 at 11:07 am

“Any fool can make something complicated. It takes a genius to make it simple.”
— Woody Guthrie

94 G.M. Schooley October 15, 2012 at 11:59 pm

Great post, really enjoyed the quotes. Minimalism is a concept I have been trying to apply to my life for several years now with varying success.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post:

Site Meter