A guest post by Joshua Becker, author of the Becoming Minimalist blog, and on a journey towards rational minimalism with his family in Arizona. He is also the author of two several books on simple living, including :Simplify, Simplicity Inside Out and Living with Less.
“Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.” – Wayne W. Dyer
Minimalism as a lifestyle, is a movement that seeks to pare down possessions to only the essential. Because life can be lived richer and fuller when unnecessary possessions have been removed, it is a growing trend that includes more than just young, single, 20-somethings. Many families are embracing the lifestyle as well.
And more and more are being introduced to the lifestyle every day. Perhaps, even, this is your first introduction.
Some people get nervous when they hear the term “minimalist.” For them, it conjures up images of destitution, barren walls, and empty cupboards. Rightly so, they decide that is no way to enjoy life. Believe me, I agree – that is no way to enjoy life. And since deciding to become minimalist years ago, we have been on a journey to define what it means for us and how it fits into our unique lifestyle.
We live in the suburbs of Arizona. We have two small children. We are active in our community. We love to entertain and show hospitality. While not exceptional, our life is not identical to anybody else. It is our life – nobody else’s. Minimalism, for us, would have to be unique. It would require us to determine the most important pursuits in our life and remove everything that was distracting us from it. And in so doing, we would find a new way to live life that adds richness and fullness around life’s most essential elements.
To determine if minimalism may indeed be the right lifestyle for you consider some of these questions:
1. Do you spend too much time cleaning?
If you enjoy clean, tidy rooms but don’t like to clean, minimalism just may be your answer. After all, the easiest way to reduce your cleaning time is to simply own less things. It works every time.
2. Are you trying to get out of debt?
Debt holds our life in bondage and weighs heavily on our shoulders. Getting a handle on it by buying less things is one of the most life-giving actions you can take.
3. Is there too much stress in your life?
Physical clutter results in extra stress on our lives. Minimalism removes the clutter and limits the distraction that it causes. Minimalism may be just the breath of fresh air that your home needs to help you relax and unwind.
4. Would you like more time in your day?
Consider for just a moment the amount of time that our belongings drain from our life. Whether we are cleaning, organizing, maintaining, repairing, removing, or shopping, our possessions demand a large percentage of our time. Owning fewer of them results in less time spent maintaining them.
5. Are you environmentally conscious?
Minimalism reduces our impact on the environment by requiring less resources on the front end for production and reducing the amount of waste on the back end.
6. Are you frugal?
While becoming minimalist doesn’t mean that you have to spend less money, it certainly provides the opportunity. And because you are buying less things, you also have the option to make higher-quality purchases that last longer.
7. Do you enjoy financially supporting other causes?
Minimalism provides an opportunity to not just save money for the sake of keeping it, but for using it to further causes that we believe in. After all, once you become content with your belongings and have been rescued from the race of accumulating possessions, you have no need to hoard money. You find new freedom to support the causes that you hold most dear. Currently, the Becoming Minimalist community is raising $10,000 for Charity:Water.
8. Are there things you value more than material possessions?
Minimalism seeks to intentionally promote the things in life that we most value and remove anything that distracts us from it. It allows our life to center around our deepest heart desires rather than the items on sale at the department store.
9. Are you not afraid of change?
Minimalism is a counter-cultural lifestyle that will force changes in the way you spend your time, energy, and money. Of course, almost every change is for the better… so it’s definitely worth the effort.
10. Is your life too valuable to live like everyone else?
Our heart, soul, and passions makes us valuable and unique. Don’t sacrifice your important role in this world by settling for the same temporal possessions that everyone else in your neighborhood is chasing. Your life is far too important… and short.
Your particular practice of minimalism is going to look different from anyone else. It must! After all, you live a different life than anyone else. So find a style of minimalism that works for you. One that is not cumbersome, but freeing based on your values, desires, passions, and rational thinking.
Ultimately, you will begin to remove the unneeded things from your life. As a result, you will find space to intentionally promote the things you most value and remove anything that distracts you from it.
Photo by jlz, via Flickr