Low-consumption lifestyles have surged in popularity over the past decade. One such lifestyle is minimalism, described as the conscious decision to live with fewer possessions. Proponents of minimalism suggest the lifestyle leads to “happiness, fulfilment, and freedom” and countless books, websites, magazine articles, and podcasts attest to a plethora of benefits. However, these claims have not been scientifically validated, and studies examining low-consumption lifestyles and wellbeing are scarce, with few providing a meaningful link between them.
In this grounded theory study, the authors aim to understand minimalism and wellbeing by exploring the experience of people living a minimalistic lifestyle. Ten people who identify as minimalists participated in semi-structured interviews to discuss their experience of wellbeing and minimalism. The data was collected and analysed using grounded theory methods.
A theory of minimalism and wellbeing from the perspective of positive psychology is presented, with five key themes identified in the study: autonomy, competence, mental space, awareness, and positive emotions. The study offers new insights into the benefits of low-consumption lifestyles and has implications for a number of disciplines aside from psychology, including conservation and sustainability.