Minimalism has a longer history than the average person is aware of. Although it seems like a new phenomenon, the idea of being a minimalist is anything but new.
Some of the greatest minds that humanity has ever produced have talked of living a minimalistic life, with deep roots in both philosophy and religion.
We’re going to look at some of the top minimalism quotes from some of the most respected authors, politicians and artists from across the globe that can help to inspire and encourage you to take minimalism seriously.
Fifty of the Best Minimalism Quotes
1. “Buy less, choose well, make it last.” – Vivienne Westwood.
2. “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” – Leonardo Da Vinci.
3. “Live simply so that others may simply live.” – Elizabeth Seton.
Often misattributed to Gandhi who did use and appreciate the saying, it was first noted by Catholic saint Elizabeth Seton many years earlier. She was the first person born in the United States that was officially made a saint.
4. “I am a minimalist. I like saying the most with the least.” – Bob Newheart.
5. “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” – Confucius.
Confucianism is heavily focussed around a personal code of ethics and individuality, minimalist principles can be found all through this Chinese philosophy. Much of Eastern Asia takes influence from the teachings of Confucius, and it can still be seen today.
6. “Nothing is enough for the man to whom enough is too little.” – Epicurus.
7. “Minimalism is about an intentional search for happiness.” – Melissa Canara Wilkins.
8. “Contentment comes not so much from great wealth as from few wants.” – Epictetus.
9. “People are not disturbed by things, but by the views they take of them.” – Epictetus.
Born a slave, Greek philosopher Epictetus was one of the later Stoic teachers that chose to live a life of great simplicity. To Epictetus, the desire for material possessions was the cause of internal suffering.
11. “Any half-awake materialist well knows – that which you hold holds you.” – Tom Robbins.
12. “To live a pure unselfish life, one must count nothing as one’s own in the midst of abundance.” – Buddha.
13. “Happiness is in us, not in things.” – Buddha.
The similarities between Buddhism and Minimalism are vast, and many Buddhists choose to live a minimalist lifestyle without necessarily knowing what it is. Buddha also taught that craving for more can be a source of suffering. On Buddha’s journey, he practiced extreme asceticism in the search of enlightenment.
14. “My riches consist, not in the extent of my possessions, but in the fewness of my wants.” – Joseph Brotherton.
15. “The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.” – Socrates.
16. “It is the heart that makes a man rich. He is rich according to what he is, not according to what he has.” – Henry David Beecher.
17. “Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.” – Will Rogers.
18. “Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are.” – Laozi (Lao Tzu).
Lesser known than many other religions, Taoism (or Daoism) is still common in Taiwan and parts of China, and the influences of it can be seen as commonplace even in the West (the Yin Yang concept, developing your Chi). The legendary philosopher Laozi is generally considered to be the founder of this religion and philosophy.
19. “You say, ‘If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.’ You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled.” – Charles Spurgeon.
20. “We need much less than we think.” – Maya Angelou.
21. “It is not daily increase but daily decrease; hack away the unessential.” – Bruce Lee.
22. “The more you have, the more you are occupied. The less you have, the more free you are.” – Mother Teresa.
23. “Cultivate poverty like a garden herb, like sage. Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends. Things do not change, we change. Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts.” – Henry David Thoreau.
24.”I make myself rich by making my wants few.” – Henry David Thoreau.
25. “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.” – Henry David Thoreau.
26. “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” – Henry David Thoreau.
A personal favorite, and maybe the most well known truly minimalist philosopher, Henry David Thoreau lived a simple life with intention. Thoreau knew above all that his time was more valuable than money, or any other worldly asset.
27. “Minimalism is about intentionality, not deprivation.” – Nicholas Burroughs.
28. “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” – William Morris.
29. “If your mind isn’t clouded by unnecessary things, then this is the best season of your life.” – Wu-men Huikai.
Wu’men was a Chinese Chán master (Chán is simply Zen: Chán is the Chinese pronunciation, Zen is how the Japanese pronounced the same character) that lived an asthetic lifestyle, travelling between temples to share his wisdom.
30. “Simplicity is making the journey of this life with just baggage enough.” – Charles Dudley Warner.
31. “Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.” – Isaac Newton.
32. “Simple pleasures are the last healthy refuge in a complex world.” – Oscar Wilde.
33. “There is no greatness where there is not simplicity, goodness, and truth.” – Leo Tolstoy.
Taken from the classic War and Peace, which remains as one of the most highly regarded and influential pieces of Russian literature available. Tolstoy became progressively more minimalist as he grew older.
34. “Simplicity is the glory of expression.” – Walt Whitman.
35. “It is preoccupation with possession, more than anything else, that prevents men from living freely and nobly.” – Bertrand Russell.
36. “In order to seek one’s own direction, one must simplify the mechanics of ordinary, everyday life.” – Plato.
Desire can be dangerous. Plato wrote in his work Republic that wanting more can be perilous for men, and his admiration of Socrates – considered by some to be the Godfather of Stoicism – was well known.
37. “One can with but moderate possessions do what one ought.” – Aristotle.
38. “Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge.” – Baha’u’llah.
39. “There are two ways to be rich: One is by acquiring much, and the other is by desiring little.” – Jackie French Koller.
40. “That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” – Steve Jobs.
Often heralded as being one of the new school minimalists, Steve Jobs was extremely frugal and enjoyed living a simple life, despite his vast wealth. His obsession with simple design was a driving force behind one of the largest brands in the world, Apple.
41. “The more you own the more it owns you.” – Henry Rollins.
42. “Happiness is not having what you want. It is wanting what you have.” – Rabbi Hyman Schachtel.
43. “Sorting out the inessential is the core of all wisdom.” – Laozi (Lao Tzu).
Modern Minimalist Quotes
44. “But I deal with this by meditating and by understanding I’ve been put on the planet to serve humanity. I have to remind myself to live simply and not overindulge, which is a constant battle in a material world.” – Sandra Cisneros.
45. “We all know that possessions do not equal happiness. It’s just that we’ve been told this lie for so long that we start to believe it, our hearts start to buy into it, and it begins to affect the way we live our lives.” – Joshua Fields Millburn.
46. “Clutter is not just the stuff on your floor, it’s anything that stands between you and the life you want to be living” – Peter Walsh.
47. “When I own less, fewer things go wrong and need to be fixed.” – Lisa J. Shultz.
48. “The first step in crafting the life you want is to get rid of everything you don’t.” – Joshua Becker.
49. “The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.” – Marie Kondō.
And, I thought I’d save my favorite minimalism quote for last. It’s not the most profound, but I think it’s the best description of what minimalism actually is, and how it can help you find meaning in life.
50. Minimalism is just the beginning. It’s a tool. Once you’ve gone ahead and minimized, it’s time to find out what those important things are.” – Fumo Sasaki.
Minimalism is a journey of discovery, and everyone takes a different path. It’s only once you’re on that journey that you’ll begin to learn what is truly important to you.