“Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.” ― Tom Schulman
Nobody really believes it. Nobody really believes possessions equal joy. In fact, if specifically asked the question, nobody in their right mind would ever say the secret to a joyful, meaningful life is to own a lot of stuff. Deep down in their heart, nobody really thinks it’s true. Yet almost all of us live like it is.
From the moment we are born, we are told to pursue more. Advertisements from every television, radio, newspaper, magazine, billboard, and website scream to us on a daily basis that more is better. As a result, we spend countless hours comparing our things to the person next to us. We measure our family’s success in life by the size of our home. And we end up looking for jobs that pay enough money so we can spend our adult lives purchasing the biggest homes, fanciest cars, trendiest fashions, most popular toys, and coolest technologies.
But we all know it’s not true. We all know happiness cannot be bought at a department store. More is not necessarily better. It’s just that we’ve just been told the lie so many times, we begin to believe it—without even noticing.
As a result,
- The average American cardholder carries 3.5 credit cards.
- The average American household carries over $15,799 in credit card debt.
- The average U.S. household debt is 136 percent of household income, which means the typical American family owes more money than it makes in an entire year.
- The number of shopping centers in the U.S. surpassed the number of high schools back in 1987.
- Women will spend more than eight years of their lives shopping.
- The average size of the American home has more than doubled over the past 50 years. Still, one out of every 10 households in our country rents a storage unit to house their excess belongings.
We live in a world that loves accumulating possessions. And while nobody would ever admit that they are trying to purchase happiness at their local department store, our calendars and checkbooks tell a different story.
But we can do better.
There is a better way to live life available to us. One that intentionally recognizes the empty promises of advertisements and consumerism. One that champions the pursuit of living with only the most essential possessions needed for life. One that champions generosity. One that boldly declares there is more joy in owning less than can be found in pursuing more.
Minimalism is, in many ways, an invitation to this new way of life. It can not be forced. It can not be mandated. It may never become entirely mainstream. But it is willing to embrace all who accept it.
Minimalism removes unneeded possessions and reveals newfound freedom in life. It changes the way we spend our hours, our energy, and our money. It changes how and where we focus our attention and our minds. It changes the way we think. It impacts the very foundation of our lives.
It frees us up to pursue the things in life of lasting value. And it may just line up with everything your heart has been telling you all along. Because deep down, we all know, we were designed for something better.
As a society and as individuals, we can do better.