The past few weeks, I've realized our family is "sorta minimalist." And I've also seen ways where our non-minimalist ways are holding us back from what we want our life to be like.
A little background: a few years ago we wrote a family purpose statement that talks about the importance of people over possessions and memories over materialism. Those ideals have shaped the decisions we've made, especially in moving back to the United States. Sometimes we've made the wrong choices that didn't line up with our values. But having a guiding philosophy has helped us stay focused on what really matters to us.
I've never used the word "minimalist" to describe ourselves. But I recently read a new book by Josh Becker of BecomingMinimalist.com - The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own. And the words on the page kept resonating with my own values.
I certainly used to think that minimalism means moving to a Tiny House, only owning two pairs of pants and one pan, and living the life of a modern day hermit. But Becker defines minimalism as:
His book is filled with hopeful stories of people who realized their possessions were distracting them from the life they wanted and took action. He gives practical steps on where to start if your home is full of clutter and meaningless stuff. And he also talks about the heart issues behind compulsive buying.
This is where his book really cut into my heart, because I struggle with compulsively wanting more. And it often starts with seeing what other people have.
One example is our choice to live in a smaller home. When we first married, we bought a two-bedroom, one-bathroom home in a neighborhood we love. We've worked hard and had some big financial blessings that have allowed us to pay it off. And having a debt-free home is a huge motivation to stay here instead of getting back into debt with a larger home.
However, I have a lot of friends right now that are moving deeper into the suburbs and buying large homes that make me a little envious. I think about the luxury of more than one bathroom, a larger kitchen, another bedroom. And none of those things are bad!
But for us, living simply with only as much house as we need has freed us up financially to be generous with our time and money, to work less, and to explore the world in new ways. Owning a smaller home means less time spent cleaning and maintaining it, which leaves more time for relationships and rest.
I have to keep focused on what's really important to our family and stop wishing I had other people's stuff.
If you are new to minimalism or need some encouragement to keep going, Becker's book is a great place to start. Most of us don't only need a ten-step program to declutter our home. We need to look into our hearts and admit there's a lot of envy, discontentment, and feelings of inadequacy that seek their satisfaction in things.
But stuff can't satisfy our hearts.
As Becker points out and I've experienced myself, our most exquisitely happy moments in life occur when we give ourselves in relationships and open ourselves up to adventure. Possessions can sometimes help with that, but they're never the center show. And often, they can stand in the way of those moments, because of the debt they incur or the time-consuming care they demand. Sometimes we have to find the life we want under all the stuff we own.
The More of Less releases next month, and my mom actually sent me some great information if you're interested in pre-ordering a copy of the book. Anyone who pre-orders the book by May 2 can sign up for Becker's 12-week class Uncluttered that walks you through the principles described in the book through videos, online community, articles, weekly challenges, and more. The course normally costs $89, but with a pre-order of the book it's free. Just pre-order the book, save your receipt and visit the Uncluttered course website to sign up.
What are your thoughts and experiences with minimalism? I'd love to hear your story of a time you gave up stuff and what you gained in its place.
Note: Affiliate links used; full disclosure here. I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.