Many “minimalists” own very little because they don’t have the money to own more. Given the opportunity, they might go on a spending spree, or they might stay minimal. There’s no way of knowing, because the option isn’t available to them.

It’s not that this application of minimalism is a bad choice — it’s more that it isn’t a choice at all. An accidental minimalist is still a minimalist, but not in the same sense as someone who owns a yacht and decides to ditch it to live in a cabin. Calling an impoverished person living in a third world country a minimalist is like calling someone who’s never heard of meat a vegetarian: without the philosophy behind the label, the label loses its validity. It’s more of an unavoidable reality than a philosophy — a default state that requires a different title, or no title at all.

When you do something, you should do it consciously. If you decide to stop eating meat, you should do it because you choose to — because you’ve thought out the pros and cons and weighed the decision carefully — rather than being forced into it due to outside conditions beyond your control.

With no options, there’s no decision. With no decision, there’s no purpose. With no purpose, there’s less chance you’ll be changing for the better.

It’s not just what you do that matters — it’s why you do it. A positive act performed accidentally is far less valuable than one performed intentionally because you may not be able to replicate it or glean all you can from the experience.

Take the time to figure out where you are and where you want to be, and act accordingly. Paddle — don’t just float and call yourself a swimmer.

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