I was introduced to the concept of minimalism by watching the fantastic documentary Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things on Netflix by Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Millburn. If you haven’t had the opportunity to watch it, I highly recommend you do.
Take a moment and look around you. Within 10 feet of you in any direction, how many items can you see that you haven’t used in the last 30 days? How about 6 months? How about the past year?
Chances are, if you are like the majority of people I personally know, there’s too much to be proud of.
And in my opinion that’s one of the biggest problems with our lives these days. We are so caught up in keeping up with our neighbors that when we actually stop to look at what we have, we are buried in clutter and unnecessary noise.
I challenge you to take a closer look at what is truly important to you. Then look at your material possessions and see if they match your values. How many things do you have just because they were on sale?
Do they contribute to you reaching your end goal? Are they bettering your life? Or is it all just noise?
Distractions to pull us away from the important things in life.
I know a lot of people who are against a minimalist lifestyle. And I believe it’s because they have this false sense of what it actually means to be a minimalist. That you have to abandon all your possessions. Live off your friends and family. Moving from point A to point B.
But it’s not deprivation.
Minimalism is about purpose.
A place for everything and everything in its place.
There should be some sort of need, or use, for everything you own.
I’m guilty of this myself. I
am was a pack-rat. I would hold on to items of no usefulness due to sentimental value. Knickknacks, awards, old clothing, books and movies. Crowding my life and keeping me from giving my full attention to the things that matter most in life.
But I have always wanted “more”. Never being satisfied, I would reach one goal and immediately jump to the next. Bigger. Faster. Better?
Growing up I was under this illusion that having more was the measure of wealth and success. I never took into consideration how miserable a lot of the people who had more actually were.
“There are two ways to be rich: One is by acquiring much, and the other is by desiring little.”
~ Jackie French Koller
To me, material possessions are just.. things. They don’t hold any value. Well, that’s a relative term. Value. I have material possessions that are valuable to me, that others would consider useless.
But that’s the brilliance of living a minimalist life. It’s not a black and white concept. There is a lot of grey area. It can be altered to fit each individual person’s lifestyle and choices.
Huge book lover? Then have your library of books.
Love movies? Keep your DVD collection!
Minimalism is about cutting out the things that DON’T hold value to you PERSONALLY so you can focus more on the things that do.
“The first step in crafting the life you want is to get rid of everything you don’t.”
~ Joshua Becker
My focus, even just a few short months ago, was about advancement in life. The amount of money in the bank account. Purchasing a big home. Having the nicest cars and clothes.
But it doesn’t matter. Why fill your life with noise and be unhappy at the end of the day?
So my wife and I started purging things from our lives. It was not easy. I let go of several items that had sentimental value to them. Or so I thought.
“Reduce what you have. Decrease what you want.”
~ Jonathan Star
It was not easy giving away our Disney DVD collection. Or our favorite books.
Or 75% of our closets.
But I can honestly say, with no regrets, that the freedom that overcame me once they were gone was unlike anything I’ve had in a long time.
These material possessions, most of which hadn’t even been touched in years, no longer had control of me.
And it has made me change my focus on life. Re-prioritize and set new goals. No longer am I working for the next best thing. No longer are the vacations being my goals in life.
“Real luxury is not working like a maniac to take an expensive vacation; it is living a life you enjoy every day.”
~ Kathy Gottberg
Now I am focused on living a calm, quiet, peaceful, simple life.
One where I can devote myself to my family and my faith.
Matthew 6:19-21 New King James Version (NKJV)
19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 19:21King James Version (KJV)
21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
Minimalism to me is about getting back to what I really want out of life. I don’t want more. I want less.
Do I still hold value in books and movies? Absolutely. But I don’t need to clutter our lives with physical distractions. This is 2017. We are in the heart of the digital age. The world is literally at your fingertips. So we, consciously as a family, have moved to digital media.
If we want to own a movie we will buy it through Amazon. If we want books we will own them on our iPads or Kindles.
Our new goal in life is to live a simple quiet life in the country. Buy a plot of land, build a small little cottage, and be as independent as possible.
In 5 years I want to begin looking into land. By the end of 10 years I want to be building, or have built, our small cottage.
And while this may sound hypocritical to some as in one sentence I am saying cut back, and the next I am saying we are wanting to buy land and build, it’s not hypocritical because this is what we are putting value in. We don’t want the noise of the world. Put us in the middle of the country, surrounded by trees, maybe a small creek nearby. Give us a garden to work in and grow our own food. Animals to tend to. Allow us to reconnect to each other and to what matters most in life. You don’t need to do more in life. Just move towards your personal values and block out the rest of the noise.
“It’s not always that we need to do more, but rather that we need to focus on less.”
~ Nathan W. Morris
A lot of people may be wondering how it’s possible to live a minimalist life while having 3 children. Honestly, it’s a lot easier than you would think, especially when you include them in on the process from the beginning. We went through each of their rooms, with them, and purged everything that wasn’t used or worn in a certain time. They were involved in the whole thing. They understand the importance of their possessions. In fact, when they ask for things now they have to give us reasons why it adds value to their lives. Little extreme? I don’t think so. It’s teaching them the importance, or lack of importance, of material possessions.
Have what is useful. Own what makes you happy. Keep what helps you reach your goals. Get rid of the clutter.
We still have a ways to go. I would say 80% of our household has been gone through. We still have a few movies and books that we are holding on to until we convert them to digital, and a few knickknacks from our wedding or Willows from special occasions, but this is a lifestyle change. It doesn’t happen overnight.
And I can now say that we own our possessions. Our possessions do not own us.
Thoughts? Comments? Concerns? Let me know below!
If you are interested in getting started with decluttering your life, I recommend visiting The Minimalists website to get started. And watch the documentary! It’s an eye-opening experience that won’t disappoint.