This post is not directly about minimalism, instead it is about a mental tool I have been using. This is a simple tool, but for me has helped to start an internal dialogue that has shifted my perspective dramatically.
The tool is not applicable to all ideas. It is helpful when you are trying to figure out if an idea is a good life choice (e.g. Minimalism, Pacifism, Vegetarianism, etc.).
The tool is simply a question that you insert the idea that you are trying to process. Here is the question: "If everyone in the world followed the idea would the world be a better or worse place?".
Let's apply the question to the idea of minimalism. If everyone in the world was a minimalist would the world be a better or worse place? In short: better place. In long: minimalism reduces the amount of excess. If we look at just manufracturing if the excess there was dramatically reduced then there would be less pollution which is better. There is many more points and counter points for minimalism (e.g. For the jobs that would no longer be needed to produce the excess where would those people work?). However looking at a net value of minimalism it is a net positive.
The question alone provides good insight, however looking at your side alone is not the best way to make balanced choices. I usually flip the question to see if I can gather other insights.
A Counter Example
Going back to the previous example of minimalism the opposite of intentionally choosing which objects to bring into your life is buying objects with little thought and when an urge hits you. If the whole world lived like that here are some results: A positive of this would be there is a lot of jobs created making, shipping, and selling those objects. A negative if everyone followed this would be low financial stability for most people because of their constant spending and also another issue would be the space needed for all of that stuff that space could be used to hold more people instead of just their stuff.
A First Step
For me asking this question has helped change the discussion from what I feel or what opinions others have, to what are the object consequences of me following this idea. It is not the question that will solve all problems but it has been a good start for me.