Why You Should ‘Marinate’ Your Minimalism

It’s the slow build that creates a lifestyle.

Katie Martin


Marination is a culinary technique. The noun—marinade—is a seasoned liquid solution used to soak meat before cooking. To marinate is to slowly break down the meat, infuse rich flavors and leave it more tender.

Beyond the kitchen, it’s a word I hear yoga instructors use: let yourself marinate in this posture. More often, I hear it during Yin poses, which are held for a minute or more, allowing sensation to slowly develop for a deeper, more restorative result.

Marinate—it can be quite the metaphor, right? I believe there are many things, beyond meat, that become richer through a slow build.

When I say to “marinate your minimalism,” I mean to let it develop over time.

Here’s why.

Purging Over Time Builds Habit

Creating a lifestyle takes a consistent effort, and minimalism is a lifestyle. I love Marie Kondo and her mantra to only keep what “sparks joy,” but her method of one giant purge wouldn’t have worked for me. In the long run, I see minimalism as a set of habits. And it takes weeks, even months, to form a habit.

Being so, instead of one single purge, I removed one item a day for two years. This ranged from tossing a mateless sock to donating an extra loveseat couch I didn’t necessarily need.

By singling out one item a day, I built a habit for minimizing my stuff. I became better at discerning what I needed and didn’t need. And then I became better at actual parting with it (I realized I didn’t miss a single thing). I started to spend less time organizing my possessions, because I simply had less of them. Drawers were no longer stuffed to the brim. My minimalism habit was built and then reinforced by these rewards.

I’m past those initial two years. I don’t get rid of something every day now, but I still consistenly parse and toss (donate, sell, rehome) my belongings. I had intentionally acted every day—once a day—and over time it became something I did naturally. Again, it became a habit.

For example, today I bought a pair of slim wool running gloves, arrived home, and immediately decided to donate an…