zen habits : breathe

The Minimalist Principle: Omit Needless Things

“Omit needless words.” - William Strunk Jr., The Elements of Style

While minimalist aesthetics and products and the minimalist lifestyle appeals to a lot of people, they find it easier to like it than to live it.

Minimalism is something people might strive for, but they don’t know where to start.

I’d start with the advice of William Strunk Jr. in his classic minimalist treatise on writing (quoted above), but apply it to life in general, and everything you do: “Omit needless things.”

I could (and probably should) stop writing there, because that’s really all the advice you need. However, the idea needs a little expanding. Strunk, for example, wrote:

“A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.”

This is the addition to “Omit needless things” that is necessary: not that you have as little as humanly possible, but that every thing you do have counts.

Let’s apply this to various areas of life:

If you’d like some irony, here are a few blogs I’ve been enjoying, for those who want more minimalism:



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