THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE AREN’T THINGS.
If you’ve heard Joshua Becker’s story or have read his blog, you’ll be familiar with minimalism: the philosophy that people need a lot less than they have. His mantra is, We were never meant to live life accumulating stuff. We were meant to live life simply enjoying the experiences of life, the people of life, and the journey of life – not the things of life.
This is not your average book about de-cluttering (although that plays a part). It’s about changing your attitude toward your possessions. It’s about purposeful living that isn’t influenced by TV commercials, peer pressure or “keeping up with the Joneses.” Minimalism is the intentional promotion of things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from it.
Obviously, this e-booklet has struck a chord with American consumers. It has been a number one best seller since it debuted at Amazon in mid November. In it Becker offers seven principles for enriching your life. The first part entails letting go of stuff that consumes your time. Whether we are cleaning them, organizing them, buying them, or selling them, the more things we own, the more time they rob from our lives. The book’s second half describes the potential joys of being free from the burdens brought on my rampant consumerism: less piles of stuff around the house, less debt, less stress, etc.
Becker calls himself a “rational minimalist” because he’s not as extreme as some others who espouse minimalist philosophy. “Realistic” would be a better term. He and his wife are realistic because they have not given up all their toys; they have two young children. They are realistic because they have not given up all their extra dishes; they love to entertain. They are realistic because they still buy clothes; but they buy much less and pay more so they’ll last longer. They are realistic about television; they still have it, but only have a limited number of channels so they don’t spend too much time watching.
I don’t like clutter, but if I’m not vigilant, the house gives into it. Once a year I need to read a book like Becker’s to remind me that I love clean closets, clear counters, and the peace that comes with being content with what I already have. In Becker’s words, There is a life of simplicity that is calling out to you… It is inviting you to remove the distractions in your life that are keeping your from truly living.
As we head into the Christmas season, a time when joy and peace are easily snuffed out with the pressures of consumerism, I was grateful for the reminder.