5 Life-Giving Truths From Years of Living with Less

minimalism, let go

“The process of living seems to consist in coming to realize truths so ancient and simple that, if stated, they sound like barren platitudes.” –C.S. Lewis

Memorial Day weekend, years ago, I got my life back.

I’ve relived the scene a thousand times. I woke up with a simple job to do: clean out the garage. It was not a project out of the ordinary. In fact, I did it every spring. But on this particular Saturday, for the first time, I’d be introduced to the truth that I didn’t have to.

Our lives were typical: work hard, make money, spend it on mortgage payments, fashionable clothes, nicer cars, cooler technology, and more toys for the kids. But when everything from my garage was piled high in the driveway while my son sat alone in the backyard, it was a conversation with my 80-year old neighbor that opened my mind to a new way of thinking. She said it like this, “Maybe you don’t need to own all this stuff?”

And a minimalist was born. In that moment, I made a life-changing realization: Everything I owned had not brought meaning, purpose, fulfillment, or lasting joy into my life. In fact, not only were my possessions not bringing me joy, they were actually distracting me from it. We immediately began pursuing a more minimalist lifestyle by removing the unnecessary possessions from our home and lives.

This journey towards minimalism has been far more life-changing and life-giving than I expected. The possessions in our lives define who we are on a far deeper level than we realize. And as a result, the process of removing them teaches us valuable truths about ourselves and the lives we live.

As I consider the years and all that I have learned, the following life-giving truths reveal themselves as the most significant:

1. Desiring less is even more valuable than owning less. Owning less brings some amazingly-practical benefits into our lives. It costs less. It requires less time and energy to maintain. It brings freedom, rest, peace, and calm into a hectic world. And it provides greater opportunity to pursue our truest passions. But I have found, over the years, the desire to own less is even more valuable than owning less. Over time, I have been able to remove myself from the incessant desire for more–even in a society that idolizes consumerism at every turn. And when our life’s desire shifts away from pursuing physical possessions, we are finally free to pursue lasting worth with all our heart.

2. Allow the journey towards less inward. Dropping off a handful of clothing at Goodwill is not hard. Dropping off a full van load of unused possessions is not even that difficult. But pulling up to the Goodwill drop-off for the fourth time with a van load of completely unnecessary possessions initiates a lot of soul-searching. The journey toward minimalism runs through the heart and soul. Correctly pursued, it forces us to ask some hard questions in deep places about our most intimate motivations in life. Why did I buy all these clothes? Why did I buy a house with rooms we never use? Why do I still flip through the ads every Sunday even though I own so much already? Why am I still envious of my neighbor’s stuff? These are hard questions to ask with no easy answers. But the darkest truth is that unfortunately, far too many people, will never even ask them.

3. The potential of minimalism lies in the addition, not the subtraction. Minimalism is not the goal. Minimalism is, after all, less about the things you remove and more about the things you add. The potential of minimalism lies in what you choose to pursue with your life in place of material possessions. Choose contentment. Pursue gratitude and generosity. Invest in relationships, grow spiritually, discover truth, and find purpose. Your life is far too valuable to waste chasing possessions. And you’ll discover this life-giving truth as soon as you stop.

4. Minimalism will always vary. I live with 33 articles of clothing. But Leo Babauta lives without a toaster, microwave, or paper towels. Sarah Wilson does the same. And Daniel Suelo lives without money. I am very thankful for Leo, Sarah, Daniel, and Mukund because I am inspired by those who own less. They cause me to reevaluate my presumptions and strive towards even greater intentionality. But I have long since removed the comparisons. I am called to live a different life than them. I have different values, different passions, and different pursuits. As a result, my minimalism is always going to look different. Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from it. And by definition, this means minimalism will always look different.

5. We can change lives. We can change the world. Thank you for an amazing five years. I sat behind a computer screen five years ago and started this blog with just a few keystrokes. It was to be nothing more than an on-line journal of my journey towards minimalism. But along the way, something unexpected happened. People started reading. And found new life because of it. The inspiration continues to grow… both through this blog and in my life. This is a far better way to live than most people realize. It is available to anyone who hears the message of living with less and chooses to accept it with their whole lives. May the invitation to minimalism continue to change lives. And ultimately, the world. This is my hope.

Thank you so much for reading and supporting Becoming Minimalist. There are still exciting days ahead.

Image: Moyan_Brenn

Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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Comments

  1. Loren says

    I appreciate your thoughts and advice on the subject of minimalism and materialism. Thank you :) Why are we always trying to impress other people with our homes, cars, jobs, clothes etc? Why do we seek validation from complete strangers? Anyways materialism has been a struggle for me since I was a little girl. My dad was not involved in raising me and my mother was an abusive alcoholic. I clung to things because I could not cling to them ( my parents). Now I am 26 and I am tired of caring what I own and don’t own. Tired of the comparison’s to other people. It’s a worthless pursuit.
    Matthew 6:24
    1 Timothy 6:6-10

    • Jae says

      Lauren,
      I am a 47 yr old woman who is surrounded by things also, clothes, shoes, dishes, vases, nail polish (150??? Bottles) and I always believed it was because I was raised by a drug addicted mother on welfare. When I read your comment about clinging to things because u couldnt cling to your parents, it really hit home. I am starting a 3 day weekend tomorrow and hope to process and donate all my unneccessary things by thanksgiving so I can live a more content minimilalist life. Thanks you for adding a dimension into my journey with your comment.

    • rachel says

      I really enjoyed your post. Well written words on minimalism. I have been on a journey towards minimalism the last few years as a result of an injury/illness. I could no longer manage the upkeep/cleaning of all my possessions due to the physical limitations of an injury. It was in fact the greatest thing that could have happened to me. At first, I tried to have my husband, ( who is busy everyday and had little time or desire to maintain our stuff beyond the basics)help more with the maintenance, then out of frustration,I contemplated getting a maid. I then realized I was going down the wrong road and changed my thinking. I was forced to reevaluate what I actually needed in my life, and now, it has become a pleasure. Had I not been in this situation, I doubt I would have changed. And now, I can’t ever imagine changing back. It has been a catalyst for change in nearly every area of my life.

  2. Nino Arzon says

    Thank you for your blog. I first found it a few months ago and after discussing with my wife decided to start going minimalist. Since it’s just my wife and I we decided to sell our 2800 sf home and move into a very nice apartment. Along the way we got rid of the stress of a mortgage and all that comes with a house. We considered it a house, our home will always be where my wife and I are together. We were amazed of how much stuff we had – So much stuff we hardly used or need it was a sick feeling, We are still working on a minimalist lifestyle but we are getting there. I already feel and look better. The less we have the less we worry…. Thank you.

    • says

      I’ve had that sick feeling, too. Yesterday, I took a trunk load to Goodwill. That was a start. But I have been at this start point before, and gave up. This time, I hope to continue.

      • rachel says

        Hi Cindy- change brings up feelings that are sometimes uncomfortable. What helped me was determining what I actually liked doing, and asking myself was I actually doing the things that made me happy, or was I just comforting myself with things staying the same way. what I do is take a kitchen garbage bag a few times a week and fill it. Either for trash or Goodwill. This step is easy to do and is more gradual but keeps you motivated easier than tackling it all at once.

        • Laura says

          I love this idea Rachel! We are moving from a large house, my husband is working out of state, I’m learning a new career and sometimes it becomes overwhelming since it is just me. Consistently filling trash bags is a great idea – thanks!

  3. Rachael Clark says

    I am a recovering hoarder, through a traumatic life event I discovered that I had to get rid of stuff. I ended up getting rid of 50 bags of garbage. I am an all or nothing kind of person. After 50 bags I am still left with many things that I do not want the “gifts” of the old stuff my in-laws no longer wanted but didn’t want to give to just anyone. How do I get rid of this stuff cluttering my life with out hurting the in-laws feelings. I am a full time student, homeowner and mother and I don’t have time to keep picking up stuff that we don’t use or that I hate and we don’t need and that some other person might be able to use.

    • neu near says

      Perhaps, out of 10 gifts given to you by your in laws, just keep one. dispose the rest, discreetly. We must be disciplined and not being too sentimental and emotionally attached with items that we owned. Of course, all items purchased has a story to tell.

      • Christine says

        We also had stuff we were given by aging, now deceased, parents. We realized that fond memories are triggered more by an expression, or trait of our parents we see in the kids or grandkids than any stuff that belonged to them. in fact, the stuff triggered more anxiety than anything. They loved us & wanted us to be happy & healthy, just as we want that for our children. i understand the gifts. I have a Nate Berkus philosophy, “surround yourself with things you love”. Although, we are not “surrounded” … what we have kept …We Love … so think others may love them too! But we would NEVER want any gifts we would pass on to cause anxiety for our children, or affect their quality of life negatively! Because we know our parents would ALWAYS value our happiness & sense of peace before ANY material item … we were able to let go of stuff. We honor them, and their memory by being the best parents, and grandparents we can be. That has meant having time & energy for family… not wasting it all on caring for stuff! Just some thoughts we worked through!

        • Tina says

          Save small things, instead of a lot of clothes, save a pin or some beads. I have sugar and creamer sets from many sets of china. I wore a bracelet, made from 2 broken necklaces left to me, last night. I have a purse from my grandparents. Pass things on unless you can use it or it is small.

        • Di says

          Yes! Both my sons emigrated to Australia and I was left with a hoard of sports trophies – hard earned and sentimental. But it wasn’t the trophies that were the point – it was the fabulous men they have become today, thanks in part to the active lives they lead. I took the photos and emailed them – the trophies went to a charity shop, along with the spirit with which they were originally earned. Memories are light to carry and we have endless capacity for them. x

      • says

        I have received so many nice gifts over the years that I can’t use or don’t like. I never want to put someone else in that situation, so I seldom give gifts anymore. Instead, when I find things I no longer want or use, I put them in the spare room and invite family and friends over and have a give away. I invite them to take whatever they can use or want. This way I am not adding to their problems of what to do with things people give them. I give away and tell them to pass the item on when they no longer need it or use it. Now, can you all help me with one of my problems? I have no trouble hauling things to Goodwill or giving things away as I listed above, but I have a hard time bringing expensive things to Goodwill. It’s hard to bring expensive things I love to Goodwill, and don’t know anyone who wants any of these items. I would like to get back some of the money I have invested in them, but this takes time and energy. I’m torn. I want to be rid of all this stuff. I don’t like it’s hold on me. Hoping for wisdom to help me out.

        • Elaine says

          Is it just that the item was expensive, or an expensive thing that you love? If you love it and it still adds to your life, perhaps you could/should keep for that reason.

          But one idea that helped me with this struggle was a lesson from an accounting course. Once an item outlives its usefulness, then its initial cost is no longer part of the equation. That’s why stores offer clearance sales in increasing percentages, even up to 90% off. While they probably paid more, losing the shelf or storage space could end up costing them more in future sales. The initial cost becomes a “sunk cost”, as in, the money’s already gone, but that’s not a reason to prevent future expansion.

          One could also try to consign to get a small return, but consider also that some people could maybe never afford such items new, and what blessing it is for them to stumble across such amazing finds at a thrift store!

          Blessings in your journey!

        • Di says

          Give with grace, with love, and with no expectation, and you will be repaid in ways you will not imagine. I was recently asked to donate a painting to a local charity auction. I looked around for something I could let go easily, something insignificant. But I realised that was not the point and I made a generous gesture, one that meant something to me. I let it go with love and amazingly it was bought by someone very influential in the art world, an unsuccessful bidder who negotiated for it after the auction. I could not have bought this benefit and I am so grateful. I hope this helps – your generosity will revisit you x

        • says

          I have been through the same thing with items of value that I have had trouble selling. Sometimes the process of detaching takes time. It’s ok to give it time, I’ve found that each time you say to yourself ‘I do not use this thing’, ‘I do not need it’ etc your attachment to the item becomes less and the drive to remove it outweighs the perceived value and finally you can let go of the item and your attachment to the monetary value. It’s those tines that probably teach you the greatest lessons about your relationship with money.

        • Fiona Cee says

          if they are sellable, they will sell.

          i have given up any hope of making money out of anything i need to get rid of. it’s gotten to the point i just want it gone, mostly to goodwill/op shops, call them what you will.

          just give it away. THROW away as little as possible, GIVE as much as possible. Planet Earth won’t thank you for adding to the landfill!

    • rachel says

      Hey Rachael- try and read DESIGN YOURSELF…it deals with gifts that you don’t want. Made it easier for me to part with stuff I felt guilty about getting rid of.

    • Jim says

      If what your in-laws gave were old thing they no longer wanted then they were downsizing their lives and understand the need to do so. Relate to their understanding and explain that you need to do the same. Verify that your spouse agrees with your plans. Ask if they would like any of those things back. If they say no, inquire if they would like them to go to any other particular person. If they say no again, consider that there may be some monetary value you hadn’t recognized and handle it appropriately. Also consider there may be a more compact way to store some things. For example taking photos and documents out of bulky frames and putting them into an archival album. Beyond any wishes they express, having had the opportunity, you should not expect of yourself to be burdened by the sentimentality of another. Having given them both the right of first refusal and the chance to redirect the ownership your responsibility is fulfilled. Dispose of it the manner you’ve agreed to with your spouse.

      • Betty says

        I agree, Jim. So often people give things to their children because it’s easier than completely letting an item go. They didn’t want it so you should feel no obligation to take or keep it.

  4. Kevin Simms says

    From the bottom of my heart thank you for this blog. I love technology and many times my rent is late because i am trying to get the latest phone or piece of technology. Because of this last month my cellphone bill was $420 and my cable bill $600! After reading this blog i have come to a realization that has immediately started to put my mind to peace; I’ve realized that a phone is a phone and also i don’t even watch TV for more than 30 minutes a day. As i start on this journey i hope to asses every aspect of my life and make changes. Thank you.

  5. kate says

    I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your posts. They have helped to shift my entire paradigm. Thank you so much!

  6. brenton says

    I relate to you. I used to live on $2500 a week in Australia. I now live as good on $300 a week with my family in the Philippines and having a great cultural experience. I love the concept of live more and own less. In fact if you buy less then you should have more. I love your work!

  7. says

    Hi .. I don’t know how I found you but I am sure glad I did. I have lived in a house full of clutter and stuff for 25 years … and I am always frustrated that I cannot find things because there are so many things around! Thank you for your inspiration … I will try to do a little better every day and maybe in 5 years I can be clutter free and a minimalist too

    • says

      took me five years Marilyn so just keep you to keep doing it. A picture of a very minimalist room on front of your fridge will inspire to keep at it.Its really worth doing -better than winning the lotto bacause when you read Joshuas blog you will realise that you have more than you need and will want to get rid of stuuff rather than buying more.The feeling of lightness and freedom from too much stuff makes it really worth the journey.

      • Saba Sadiq says

        That is very positive and encouraging. I agree withe frustration of not being able to find things and having no time to enjoy what I do have (my sewing and knitting) . I’m always cleaning up and then too tired for anything else, I have lupus and it makes for a vicious unending cycle. My goal is to be unfettered and productive, somewhat, by year end.

  8. Dianne Clay says

    I love “cooking toys.” I also love to knit, sew, spin yarn, weave. So, I have a lot of “textile toys.” I can’t throw out a scrap of yarn or fabric, because I can eventually use it. I jokingly used to tell my friends to line my casket with skeins of yarn when I die.

    To some, that would be clutter. But to me, when I enter my hobby room, I feel my creative juices flowing. It’s not clutter, or materialistic to me. It’s my love for creativity.

    We all must find our place. I am sitting here, looking at a bicycle that I may never be able to ride again, because of injuries in a car accident. I think I should sell it, but to sell it would mean I have given up getting better. Same goes for my gardening equipment. I want to get out and mow my own lawn again. If I sell my mower, is that giving up?

    As far as my cooking toys…… I get up one morning and say “I want to make this or that”, which takes special pans or gizmos. Once again, my creative juices flowing.

    My point in all this is, where do we draw the line between clutter and things that enrich our lives?

    • Barbara Lee says

      Minimalism is having ONLY meaningful things in your home; your fabrics and cooking equipment are obviously meaningful. Your bicycle and mower have symbolic value, representing hope; selling them is not “giving up”, but accepting that right NOW they are unused and can easily be replaced when once again you need them. If they are a visual symbol that inspires your determination to get well, then they become meaningful – though you might consider pictures of the gorgeous new bike of the future and the shiny up to date mower of your dreams in lieu of the bulky realities. I have a paraplegic friend, paralyzed in an avalanche 26 years ago, a wonderfully cheerful man who collects models of racing cars and has antique skis and snowshoes decorating his walls. Not useful, necessary items obviously, but ones that reflect his interests and give meaning to his still joyful life.

    • Fiona Cee says

      if you are completely comfortable with your clutter/excess, then it is not clutter.

      it is when that clutter/excess begins to impact on your life and then it is unhealthy.

      this is the way i have been feeling the last few years and since having lost my job 2 years ago, and being home and a full time carer to a parent, i still haven’t made much headway in the reduction of clutter. it’s the first step that is the hardest.

  9. Dave Gilmore says

    Hello minimizers
    I am traveling SE Asia by bicycle at the moment. I have 2 x 14L bags that clip on to my bike. This is where I store everything I need for the 6 month trip. My philosophy is, if you can’t eat it, drink it or if it doesn’t help the continuation of my travels, then I don’t need it. The things you own end up owning you.

  10. gina says

    Dianne, I have just discovered this blog and was really touched by your post. I am also learning to minimalise and am also wondering how to define my clutter. I love the idea of a hobby room – you are simply compartmentalizing your creativity, even if it is a bit messy it’s an essential part of you. And of course, that’s what kitchens are for! But as for your bike and mower, I don’t think you’re giving up on recovery by eliminating the things from your life that you’re presently limited by. In fact, it may help. It’s probably the thought of being able to ride a bike or mow the lawn that motivates you, not the equipment itself. Could you sell them, set aside the money to buy them later on, and in the meantime stick photos on your fridge of the things that will motivate you in your recovery? Good luck!

  11. Barbara says

    After 40 yrs in the same house, I am planning to move and I
    Am overwhelmed with the stuff of a lifetime. It’s never too late to minimalize….I look forward to a leaner life….

  12. amy J says

    I was a compulsive hoarder, I was seriously ill, I lived on a hell on earth estate, I started to recover after becoming involved with a man so abusive I threw things out to attempt to keep him calm on his visits. Then one day I was given four days to move to a new flat I absolutely love, I had no one to move me, so I packed my small suitcase and cats and left. I am now a minimalist, I have nothing really and no longer care for possessions. There is no better feeling than giving things away

  13. Bella D says

    I have always been an organizational freak. Organization is my passion. However, my boss was telling me about this blog and the minimalist lifestyle. I finally realized that even tho I was organized, all I was doing was just moving stuff around and finding more places to tuck and store. I am middle age and I wish I had learned about this life style years ago. I have had so many “things” through out the years that were purchased for one time use or never used really at all. I have vowed to go through my storage spaces, closets, drawers etc. this year and minimalize down. I will be making many trips to goodwill, selling things at a huge yardsale I am planning, donating, giving gently used items all while paring down on what I buy. I have only been practicing the “not” buying for a week and already I see how many silly purchases that I use to make just on impulse or because it was a great sale. The minimalist lifestyle really does free up time, space, clutter and gives you a great feeling of control. Most of us really have just too much stuff! Thank you for this blog, and for everyone contributing, please keep the tips and comments coming in!

    • Lori says

      OM Gosh! This is me. I spend more time ‘organizing’ the stuff I have. Moving it from here to there. Trying to be practical so that I can find it when I ‘need it.’ HUGE Garage sale coming September. I realize that my craft space is very important to me. So I want to get rid of the stuff so that I can have time in that space; not in maintaining what I do not really want or need. Yey! I am on my way!

      • Tina says

        I keep the things that are small and meaningful from friends and relatives, a string of beads, a pin, a ring, a pair of candlesticks, and get rid of the rest. I am in my 60′s and don’t want to burden my children with piles of clutter.. I grew up with a hoarder and even when I visit my mom and get rid of 25 boxes of papers there is still so much to trip over. Hoarding is an illness and unless the hoarder is willing to make an effort to be cured no one can help. Hoarders will never have enough. When I buy 1 thing, I usually get rid of 2. I am currently sorting through the books I keep for my grandkids since they are too old for board books I’ve been giving them away.

  14. Cindy D. says

    I am a 54 year old woman who has lived the past 10 years accumulating and storing things I will probably never use. I have gotten to the point where I feel strangled by the thought of stuff. I have vowed this year to clear out my entire home of things and keep only the absolutely most necessary items at this time in my life. I do understand it will be the most difficult thing I have done to this point in my life but still I am determined. I know the freedom I will gain from pairing down to the essential items of living . these comments have been very helpful and this is my first day of moving toward a more simple lifestyle….wish me luck!!!

    • Diane says

      Hi Cindy – not sure if you’ll read this but if you do, I was wondering how you’re going on your minimalising journey?

  15. says

    This was my first visit to your site, and what a great post to start with. I have a young family. We live in the mid-west and lately I have been sorting and organizing closets and cabinets. We have made several trips to Goodwill and I have been thinking about the exact things you did when you cleaned out your garage. Perhaps you and your blog can help us to become more minimalist…

  16. says

    My biggest challenge to being minimalist is convincing my family to go along for the ride. We have been so accustomed to living beyond our means that any change seems threatening. And another issue is simple habit. Don’t feel like cooking, order a pizza. Throw out the left overs.

    The challenge is to re-program ourselves from these harmful habits.

    • paulette says

      Hello Felix,
      It is very difficult to journey down the minimalist road especially when your family is accustomed to a sort of lifestyle…But you must remember that at the end of the day…you will be responsible for any financial mishaps so close the wallet my friend…and this is a black woman asking you to do this!

  17. Lisa T says

    Hi, I live with a lot of cheap clutter. I come from a background/family that enjoys doing the same. I’ve always hated this lifestyle and knew something should be different. My significant other told me throw things away. He has been patient with me as he is a minimalist. I can now see the horror through his eyes. I have been living with such a distraction that has had me tense, confused, and irritated each day I had to sort through it. I am so happy to have found this site. Every other day I have more bags leaving my home and I feel lighter. I have a long way to go due to attachment, but this quote just inspired me even more: “Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from it. And by definition, this means minimalism will always look different.” I appreciate my cleansing process, but I really look forward to the arrival of true minimalism (my definition of it). Minimalism has already saved me money and gave me more space. I have began a healing relationship with my sibling and I feel a deeper connection with my partner. Your blog is my minimalist bible, I read it often and use it as Inspiration for my lifestyle change. Thank you!

  18. says

    I am just started on this journey by a few months. This morning, I thought about what project I would take up. Which, of the many, place would I clean out next. The box of notebooks which are now on the table, or my dresser? I decided cleaning out my dresser would make me feel better. I use only one drawer for clothes. A few drawers I haven’t even opened in six months or more. So that is the next project.

  19. says

    As my husband and I approach empty nest syndrome, we have considered downsizing and living with less. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on living simply. Your blog is just the motivation I need to jump start our adventures in downsizing. Let the house purging begin!

  20. says

    You are an inspiration to a lot of folks. I was well on the path before I found you, but you keep the fire burning strong with your writing. Please keep spreading minimalism far and wide. Seems to me you’ve found your calling in this life. :)

  21. Dragonfly says

    It has been proven that we think about everything we own all the time everyday, that is why wealthy people who own and control a lot of stuff can not find happiness, they are always living in fear… fear of losing everything.. we spend an enormous amount of time thinking about, protecting, caring for, repairing and replacing all of our stuff… I personally have found that the less I have the happier, claimer and more free I become… realize that the main reason we work so many hours is to pay for our stuff… I believe that if you get it down to the basics you’ll find that you can survive on a part time job…. which opens up opportunities not only for you to spend time with loved ones and following your passions but it also opens up job opportunities for others as well….

  22. Alice says

    Thank you do much for the empowering message and comments. I, too, am beginning the journey now and look forward to the process

    • Kaci says

      That would be if everyone took it to an extreme. Like he said above, “minimalism will always look different” for everyone. It is more about creating a balance, rather than an extreme.

  23. Kate says

    Wow, I just found this blog and look forward to reading more. I just cleaned out my kitchen last week. I got rid of 5 large trash bags of stuff that I never used. Today I worked on my bedroom. I have about 4 large bags of clothes. Stuff has never made me happy. Not to mention the debt I accumulated by looking for the next thing that would make me happy. I look forward to less and only having things that I love around me. Plus I really look forward to being a role model for my two boys. Thank you!

  24. Ray says

    I love your article and all that goes into the whole lifestyle of minimalism. As you said each person’s version will be different. I was forced to live without a lot of things I was used to, because of divorce. I am sure many people understand that situation. That gave me a start on living with less, being happy with what I have. But as life has gotten more secure I have begun ramping up consumerism by buying more wants, now that I can again. But I am stopping knowing the trap I am setting up for myself. Materialism will not make you happy. A good attitude and having the things you really need or love, passionate about, that will make you happy, I agree and continue to work towards that. Thank you for your insight and everyone’s comments were helpful too. All of that being said with such a conscious audience, that are more apt to evaluate themselves and their actions. Please, Please, Please people, do some research on who you donate your items to. Goodwill is simply taking your items and reselling them for profit. Their CEO makes close to or more than $1 million salary a year. Give to the vets is #1 on my list, it all goes straight to them, or another organization that helps people that are pushed unwillingly into a difficult situation through injury or personal disaster. Give to people that will appreciate and use your unwanted items more than that of the consumer that is just out looking for a good deal. That is almost contributing to the very lifestyle you are leaving, instead of flat out helping people, not just saving them money. Think about it… I continue to reduce my possessions to achieve a simpler way of living that is, quite simply, good enough for me.

  25. Lisa says

    This spoke right to my soul, I am just at the beginning of my journey and I have no idea how far I will and can go with minimal living but I am taking it one day at a time. Thank you so much for sharing :)

  26. Jay says

    Joshua,
    Great article. As a fellow minimalist for many many years, I completely agree. Whenever I have to buy anything I ask myself “Do I really need this?” and I go on a analysis of questioning and cross-questioning with myself. If the answer is “yes” then I ask myself “Can I pay right now in cash?” If the answer is “yes” only then do I buy. I have no debt and no material objects that people consider “essential”. And I am perfectly happy and content with life. I am glad to see that there are others in the world, like yourself, who have similar views.

  27. says

    This post has given me an idea for a subject for my blog.
    It is in keeping with my philosophy and a wonderful subject.
    You have explained the advantages in a minimal life style.
    I do not think I can do better than to put a link to this post on my post.
    I can write a whole volume but a few good linke will be far better.
    All I have to do is to encourage my followers to hit the links.
    Kind regards Jack.

  28. Janice says

    Wow, I have learned so much here about this journey here.

    One day I decided I didn’t like my den and needed to redecorate after removing most of the accessories and wall hangings and giving it a good cleaning it looked like a new room so I left it just like that. I feel so good when I am in that room.

    But I really messed up the garage with all that stuff. Boy was I embarrassed Easter when I found out my son left the door up all throught my dinner party. Ok so since then I have organized and taken a car load to Goodwill, where I shop too. I also use the tax write off. You see the garage was already a mess with Christmas decorations scattered about. It really looked bad.

    I started what I called minimalist dress after watching Claire on the Netflix show ‘House of Cards’. I just loved her style. Now I realize I have do more purging of my stuff, maybe it will get me closer to the traveling I have put off and off and off. And it makes me feel so good.

    Thanks for all your help.

  29. Sarah says

    Hi Joshua

    I really enjoyed your post. I have been on a quest to live more minimally since both my Mother and Father-In-Law died last Spring and my partner and I had to clear out their home. That was such an eye-opener and I now feel that I have to get rid of lots of stuff for the sake of my son and my sanity. What do we need all this stuff for anyway. I’ve sold some things on Ebay, sent some to the re-cycling dump and passed some to charity shops. My home feels cleaner without all the stuff, like I can breathe easier and there’s less to do but still a way to go.

  30. Sarah says

    Hello everyone. This is an odd thought but I think I am lucky to live in New Zealand where wages are relatively low and consumer goods are expensive. It amazes me how cheap things are in America and how big all the houses are (and cars, meals, cities, pretty much everything!). I have always been bit of a minimalist but I suspect it is a somewhat easier journey down here at the bottom of the world. Less shopping opportunities.

    • Rashmi says

      Sarah, I am from New Zealand too but living in Singapore now. You are right, it is easy to be a minimalist in NZ due to lack of opportunities. The true challenge is to be able to discipline yourself in being a minimalist in an environment where shopping is really really easy and when things are dirt cheap!

    • Lydia says

      Sarah- you’re right! It’s the opposite of what so many believe. As an American consumer, I’ve been so blind to what was happening every time I grabbed something so cheap- I felt I couldn’t afford NOT to get it. Especially after growing up with very little- I went overboard not knowing what a blight it is to have “stuff” in excess. Your comment made me happy that you realize this. So many long for more as if it holds joy and it doesn’t. Once basic (very basic) needs are met, life is about living not getting.

  31. says

    I so appreciate your blog! I just discovered it today and I really needed the encouragement. Our family is on a journey to own less and we’re shedding our unnecessary possessions like a dog sheds it’s winter coat in the summer time. We want more space to play and to have relationships with our kids (and we want to increase our family). We want more money saved up to purchase a homestead (lots of land, small house), and more money freed up to pay off debts (so we can save for the homestead). Our joy has been stolen by pursuing things. We’re giving a car back to the dealership that we can’t afford. That was our final tipping point and at that point we looked at each other and said “ENOUGH! Something has to change.” We were called to minimalism. And for us, it looks like less stuff, more freedom, more joy. Painful for a bit, but joy for a lifetime.

  32. LJ says

    This is incredibly inspiring. I too am beginning to rid myself of excess after decades of chasing and hoarding things. As hard as it was to conceive at first, it’s amazing how easy it becomes once you get over the first hump. You realize that the world doesn’t end because you don’t have new, beautiful things to seek.
    And the more you work towards being a minimalist, the more momentum you pick up. It’s even more exciting to purge your life of the things you were certain that you couldn’t live without than it is to obtain them.

  33. Chris says

    Over the past month I’ve dropped off 4 large bags of clothes (including shirts, jeans, dress pants ,ties and suits), knick-knacks, and just general clutter I didn’t need in the house.

    Each weekend I started going through the clothes closet all over again, thinking I was done the week before, until I got down to exactly what I knew I wanted to keep.

    I had many “gifts” i dropped off at Good Will that were brand new and still had the tags on them.

    It felt good.

  34. says

    I also wanted to say now that I ve got rid of about 80% of my stuff I only have to do 20% of the housework I used to do . Having to do so much less housework is a great incentive!

  35. Lydia says

    Thank you for the most thoughtful and intelligent article I’ve seen on this subject. Little tips of decluttering don’t help when much deeper reflection is needed. Mostly, I found this post by needing inspiration- I needed to know that it will truly be worth it to purge. We’ve been trying, talking about it, doing it little by little but something in me keeps holding back – and the piles just get moved around. I so want freedom from frittering time away. So thanks for laying out your truth for us in such a rich way. Also- anyone who quotes CS Lewis gets my eyes to focus. Carry on!

  36. Jennifer says

    Ever since I came across your blog I’ve been inspired to pursue a minimalistic lifestyle. It just makes sense! Someday’s are easy and getting rid of unnecessary items isn’t a problem. And other days are much more difficult. It is definately a work in progress for me. But I look forward to your posts on Facebook and the inspiration it brings.
    Thank you!!

Sites That Link to this Post

  1. » Minimalist Resource | May 27, 2013
  2. My ‘Living Simply’ Story | | August 24, 2013

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