There are Better Things to be than Rich


“Money often costs too much.” ―Ralph Waldo Emerson

Today, in most societies, the pursuit of wealth has become inevitable— almost as if the desire to be rich is already a forgone conclusion in our lives.

The prevailing view is that wealth is good, that it should be pursued, that material possessions and riches enhance our enjoyment in life, and that wealth provides opportunity to find greater fulfillment in life.

But recently, I have come to realize the pursuit of riches is based on a faulty premise. It is based on the incorrect rationale that the presence of money is always good—that it always brings benefit into our lives. This is not always the case.

Once our basic needs have been met, money contributes very little to our overall happiness and well-being. But more than that, there are actually a number of inherent dangers in possessing riches. Or maybe I should say, at the very least, there are better things to be than rich. And we’d live more fulfilled lives if we began chasing after them with as much intensity as we seek riches.

Consider just this short list of Things Better to Be Than Rich:

Content. Contentment is far more valuable than riches because whoever finds contentment is always satisfied. Money comes and goes—sometimes quickly. But contentment rises above our circumstance and offers happiness regardless of our financial state.

Generous. Jeff Shinabarger says it well, “Anything we find that is more than enough creates an immediate opportunity to make others’ lives better.” Our resources can accomplish great things in this world—but not if we keep them to ourselves.

Free. Jim Sollisch has recently come to this understanding. Often in our pursuit of wealth and bigger bank accounts, we sacrifice freedom. We think riches will provide greater freedom for our lives, but we rarely recognize how much freedom we have actually sacrificed in our attempt to simply find more of it.

Selfless. Choosing to live selfless lives that seek the benefit of others brings meaning, purpose, and lasting impact to our short lives. While living selfish, self-centered lives is neither attractive or fulfilling.

Honest. No compromises, no regrets. Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and harmful desires. Given the choice, we should choose honesty, integrity, and character any day. It makes laying our head on the pillow each night that much sweeter.

Passionate. It is far greater to have a career and life we love waking up to in the morning than a high-paying job that brings no satisfaction, provides no positive contribution, and provokes no passion in our day.

Dependent. There is greater security to be found in lasting, trusting relationships than wealth. Dependence on others teaches us this truth. But even more importantly, it also allows us to experience the goodness of other people.

Compassionate. The statistics continue to hold true. The more wealth we obtain, the less compassion and empathy we feel towards those without. And as a result, the less we contribute.

Humble. Wealth often brings with it a certain level of pride—or at least, a more-necessary intentionality to remove prideful tendencies. Sometimes this pride comes from within and sometimes it is encouraged by others. Meanwhile, humility quietly calls us to embrace its hidden power and freedom. It would be a shame to miss it at the expense of riches.

Resourceful. Learning how to live with less is an important pursuit. It teaches us the value of the things right in front of us and forces us to appreciate them even more.

Connected. Riches do not result in deeper relationships. In fact, often times, they have the opposite effect. But intimate, connected relationships continue to provide the joy in our lives money can never produce.

Perseverant. Perseverance is a powerful characteristic that can only be discovered through trial. And while riches cannot remove every trial in life, they can often remove just enough to keep perseverance from ever taking root in our heart.

Happy. As I mentioned, once our basic needs have been met, money contributes very little to our overall happiness and well-being. Gratitude, generosity, and contribution produce far more. And that is the real goal: to live lives of joy and fulfillment and help others to do the same.

Now, please don’t misread me. I am not contending that those with riches cannot also be content, generous, humble, or connected. I know many incredibly generous people who could also be described as wealthy. And I would never contend that those without wealth are better simply by the nature of that qualification. Lastly, I would never confess to have arrived fully in any of the categories listed above.

But I do believe with all my heart the pursuit of riches can lead to great danger. It is not a pursuit to be automatically accepted as the wisest course of action for our lives. In fact, as soon as it is removed, we provide greater opportunity for these better things to be true in our lives. And there are indeed, far better things to be than rich.

Image: Daniele Zedda

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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  1. Eva says

    Sometimes I wonder if some people living the minimalistic life tend to be motivated by a lack of ambition and competitiveness. I started to think that way after asking myself why I instantly was so attracted to reading about minimalistic and simple lifestyle after reading some blogs on the subject.

    Since childhood I haven’t had any kind of ambitions or passions in life except for reading and learning and the only competition I ever willingly participated in was studying to get the best grades in school. People said at my graduation ” You will achieve much in your life”. I knew that was not true, at least not in the sense achievement supposed to look like in our western culture. I didn’t see myself in a high status and well paid job, big house and the other “necessary” things. Now at almost 40 I haven’t worked much, I earn the amount of money which is considered to little to even pay for necessities.

    This minimalistic lifestyle fits the, in other’s eyes, under-achieving, lazy people, also those with low self-esteem. You can hide and mask yourself and get the identity “The minimalist”. Peter Shallard (.com/blog) writes also a little about this non-ambition among some so-called minimalists. I don’t fully agree wtih him, he goes to far, but at least he points at an issue seldom talked about in this context. Not all minimalists comes from a life full of stuff in the beginning.


    • joshua becker says

      As you well know Eva, it is impossible to completely generalize any significant portion of the population. No doubt, there are some minimalists who embrace the lifestyle because of their lack of ambition. However, I think they are a minority in the movement, although it would be difficult to not assume they are certainly drawn to the principles.

      For my own personal opinion, I’d direct you towards this post: Why We Work. It addresses the misplaced ambition of those who seek to work less.

    • laura m. says

      I came from a middle class upbringing, struggled in my 20’s and 30’s like many young couples trying to pay bills and take vacation time. Now retired, I downsized because I don’t need to keep stuff I don’t use or too manyduplicates, some inherited. Selling, donating makes sense for retirees, passing down items, making the house easier to clean with less clutter. Seems back decades ago, most were minimalists as people didn’t have stuff everywhere. Only the wealthier households had stuff like boats, campers, wall units full of nik naks, books, stereo, TV, etc. I’m encouraging retirees to downsize, so more time for activities, free time to get out and enjoy walking, biking, tennis, etc. I go thru and unclutter several times a year. Just finished the kitchen cook wear this week, will take to a group home. I

    • says

      Interesting perspective. Personally, I do not fit into the “minimalist that lacks ambition” category, and neither does my husband. We are both extremely competitive in our lives (both in recreational and career aspects). We have both been highly driven from a young age, and we also don’t fit into Joshua’s “people who don’t care about being rich” category.
      I have always wanted to “be rich” so that I could have my money work for me. Instead of being tied to a 9-5 job working for someone else, I now have the freedom to do something meaningful with my time, and I more easily achieve the list of “things better to be than rich” now that I have that freedom.

      I would agree with Joshua’s general assessment of the pursuit of riches, but I also think that if done with purpose and intent, the pursuit of money can lead to unmatched freedom, generosity, and fulfillment. When you achieve financial independence (by amassing enough money to live off your investments), I believe you have beat both the exorbitantly rich lifestyle, and the “minimalist” that only works enough to scrape by.

      • joshua becker says

        Thanks for the comment Miss Growing Green. To my original point, you are a great example of the wide appeal of minimalism. I’d confess as well to be far more competitive than I should be.

        Thanks also for your thoughts on the pursuit of riches. I’m glad you were able to find a point of disagreement in my writing. After all, if everyone agrees with everything being written, no one is growing and moving forward. That being said, I think unmatched freedom, generosity, and fulfillment is available to each person regardless of the financial situation and/or measure of wealth. However, the pursuit of wealth, by its very nature, precludes freedom as we are bound to its pursuit.

    • Myta says

      I actually sent an email to Joshua similar to this. Maybe it’s good to express myself here as well.

      I grew up with “full of stuff in the beginning.” Eventually having a lot of things became overwhelming, and in turn I had to make a quick note of what is really important in my life. Suddenly, I get comments that I lack “ambition and competitiveness.” As if being a good journalist isn’t ambitious enough. As if wanting to write well isn’t good enough. As if wanting to have a mobile literacy program isn’t ambitious enough. I think it’s because all my passions aren’t high-income generating. But I’m happy.

      I’m tired of having to defend myself about my moderate adversity to promos, sales, and what-have-yous. I just need the basics: food, shelter, time to sleep, read, write and be with my loved ones. I love spending my money on people I love–I treat them out from time to time. I feel more fulfillment in spending for others rather than myself 95% of the time. Mind you I don’t make that much… and almost 50% of my paycheck goes to the bills.

      That’s how the minimalist lifestyle works with me. It makes me feel great despite the backlash I get about not being too ambitious. Money and material wealth is not the end-all goal. There is no goal for me, there is only life and happiness–two things I want to share with others.

    • Ana says

      Dear Eva:

      When I starts working at Salesian University, 18 years ago, I asked a Priest, who happened to be my boss too, that I was afraid I may not have ambitions. I have been told after returning from USA with a LSU degree that I could get a better paid job, other than the university.

      The priest told me that unfortunately, ambitious is usually related to big incomes, so he asked, if i didnt pursue a big income, what was my ambition. With no doubt, i answer “a peaceful life”, and he repply, then you do have ambitions, that is your ambition.

      After 18 years working in the same university, I have realized that I have reached my main ambition, a peaceful life, a job where I am been treated right, a good salary, a good offices hours. I realized that “a peaceful life” keeps being my main ambition.

      • Eva says

        Thank you Ana, your answer was truly healing!

        I am also very surprised that my earlier comment gave so many answers. I don not at all avoid work, but i do avoid noise and beeing overly busy. I like to be peaceful at all times.

      • Sam says

        You said it! A peaceful life can be an ambition and very few pursue that. I worked in advertising for 18 years. Stress was part of life. Long working hours made it even worse. On top of it, since you are part of an organisation you also have to ‘handle’ other people’s egos. And all that really messes up with you. Yes you get a handsome salary but in the end it all seems worthless. In my 18 years of career I changed 11 jobs, thinking that I will be happy in the new organisation. But eventually I decided to call it quits and pursue peaceful life. It’s been 6 years I am freelancing and life was never better. Though I make less money than I would have made had I stuck to my corporate job.

    • EL says


      There are a number of reasons why somebody may choose to adopt a minimalist life style, whether they are financially rich or poor.

      A good argument for the minimalism is the concept of relative deprivation.

      Relative deprivation occurs when people compare their position/ possessions with others and feel a sense of dissatisfaction when others have something of more value than them e.g. they have a Swatch watch and their friend buys a Rolex. This happens with all material possessions and creates a ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ effect. You can have millions of pounds and still feel dissatisfied because you can’t afford a private jet, and so strive towards that, because you’re ‘poor’ compared to those who can afford to buy one. Once you’ve covered the necessities in life, there’s not much difference between wanting the latest phone and wanting a private jet. It’s all just a case of comparing yourself to others and feeling that you are entitled the same possessions as them. This isn’t about ambition or financial status (people on low income are just as vulnerable to this as those on the highest income), it’s about an attitude.

      In short, I believe that it is better to learn to live and be perfectly content with the minimal possessions, than constantly be striving for more no matter how much money you have. And that is why I embrace minimalism!

    • says

      I can see where you are coming from, as it would initially ease the guilt of being unmotivated in some. That being said, being unmotivated may be symptom of an imbalance or depression in ones life… one that releasing guilt may actually help alleviate.

      For me personally, this means less time shopping and pre-shopping (flyers, websites). It means less time working, less time watching cable…finding out what Jane bought so I should know what I should want..

      This time is then opened up to find the richness in my child’s laugh, the anticipating look in his eyes as he waits to see how i will respond to something silly or inspired that he has said… It means time to play on the monkey bars with him (yes, I still do that) or bake cookies, or sing or enjoy the warmth of my partner’s arms, when we get to sleep in Sunday mornings, to contemplate my own thoughts….

      Just thought I would add my 2 cents as to what this lifestyle means to me :)

      Wishing you much happiness and love,

    • Marinelle Brewster says

      HI Joshua,

      Thank you so much for allowing God to use you. I’m going through a physical and spiritual overhaul right now. Your Facebook page has just come at the perfect time in my life. I’ve been purging for weeks now. It’s taking some time but I was able to bring a few things at church last night to share with people. These things are beautiful but I don’t need. I’ve never felt more alive and hopeful. I’ve been weighed down by life and my possessions and I want to be free. I want to fully live out God’s purposes for my life and remove the noise and distractions.

      Thank you for having the most encouraging page on fb.


    • RLSCS says

      My ambition is to spend more time with my loved ones. To accomplish this, I must work fewer hours. To work fewer hours means a smaller paycheck. To live on a smaller paycheck, I must buy, use and consume less. Hence, my motivation for minimalism.

  2. Ian says

    Great Post…I don’t particularly agree with the point on dependence…I believe that INDEPENDENCE, rather, will lead to one having a great sense of inner peace. Yes, it is good to ask for help if you need it, but ultimately, one should aim for independence…

    • joshua becker says

      I think each person should provide for themselves and their family whenever capable. But the reality of life is that nobody is completely independent in and of themselves. And the sooner we recognize that we need others (rather than thinking we can eliminate that need), the sooner we become more willing to rely upon them.

  3. says

    This is my favorite post that I’ve ever read from you. It is one that I’ll go back to multiple times because I struggle with the balance of wanting more/being content with enough.

    Eva’s comment above has my head spinning, as I’ve never even considered that someone might consider me a slacker because I want to live with less. I’m going to go read “Why We Work”, and think about this a bit longer.


    • laura m. says

      Whit B. I agree! Eva: I consider slackers, some who I’m acquainted with near me, as lazy, no ambition, and unmotivated to clean house and declutter. They are retired or work part time; their place is a mess, one lady had to have an exterminator for mice that hide in clutter. TV watching, playing computer games is their sole interest. Ms Glowing Green: I agree with you, free time is more important than stuff, financial independence, living off investments, makes it possible to pursue other goals. Minamalism/ a clean house builds self esteem.

      • Kay B says

        To answer your question Eva- Yes there are some people living the minimalistic life-style motivated by a lack of ambition and competitiveness. Motivated solely by it.
        In the quest to live with less, I have to ask myself what is truly important to me. As I am not a competitive person, I don’t desire a competitive career. A big house, nice car, nuclear family, these aren’t things that concern me. While some might say I have a chronic lack of ambition, I would argue that the things I deem important are simply different . I live for my free time, so I chose a career field that allows me to work little and make enough. While I could easily shell out money for a nice bike or computer component, I’m hesitant to spend more than $2,000 on a car, or much money on nice clothes. Minimalism can be embraced by those in any walk of life. Playing computer games or indulging in a lazy weekend does not a slacker make.

  4. says

    Thanks for another great post. It takes a lot of work and dedication not to glorify “busy”. I work with the homeless, mentally ill and poverty stricken in my city- and am confident in saying none of them ever intended to lead that sort of “minimalist” lifestyle. Most of the folks I see living off the grid are there by circumstance- not by choice. In fact, many think that having all the stuff “normal” people possess will make them happy. The “journey within” and the work that needs to be done there is often the most challenging task in life. Finding what matters most – one often realizes it has nothing to do with acquiring material things- but is more about connection, community, and contribution.

  5. says

    I was at a dinner last night and I was talking with a friend about this. He agreed when I said I don’t need to be rich, make a million dollars, or need several luxury cars. What’s good is there if you’re not really content? Money helps, but only to a certain extent before you get used to your wealth and go back to your “base” happiness level.

    Are you familiar with Stoicism’s hedonic adaptation?

  6. says

    Great post Joshua! The one I find most compelling is the compassionate trait, and I couldn’t agree with you more. I have certainly recognized this trait with a few wealthy people I know, almost as if they are disconnected from those in a different socioeconomic background. Kinda sad actually!

  7. Mason says

    I agree with you Joshua. No matter how much I fluff that mattress made out of hundred dollar bills it still gives me a pain in my back every morning.

  8. Mathias says

    I don´t agree with your analysis of the rich vs the poor. You can be a rich or poor human being with all these bad or good traits. It has nothing to do with how much money you accumulate or not. Some rich people are greedy, bad connectors etc.

    The same can be applied to some poor people as well. As I see it, if you can accumulate wealth and/or material wealth in general and then be emotionally attached to losing that wealth and start over, then you are OK. It is how we look at money, material wealth, human beings, relations etc that is the issue. It has to do with the human soul, nothing else.

    You can be giving, loving and all those things and still be richer than any other human being on earth. Material wealth and empathy are not, necessarily, separate things. It has to do with the humans possessing it. There is a saying that goes something like this “money only acts as a magnifying glass”. Meaning, if you are a greedy human being while being poor, money will only magnifiy that behaviour in relation to how much money you accumulate. The same goes with all other vices and virtues. You become more of who you already are. That means poor people have to possess the same vices and virtues that rich people possess. Remember, we are all human beings.

    It´s the psychology that is the problem when it comes to money. Money is not the root of all evil. Money does not have a soul. Money recieves a purpose based on who possesses it or who is looking for it. So change your attitude first and the material wealth will be a better proposition for all than not having it at all.

    NOTE: who can give more Money to Charity and change more lives? The rich person with a billion dollars or a poor person (although nice and kind) with 100 dollars in his pocket? Your chance of helping more people increases with your bank account. Like it or not, but it seems like a fair assumption. With more money you can employ more people. You can assist more people at a grander scale.

    • joshua becker says

      Thanks for the comment Mathias. My last paragraph was written specifically to address your concern. As I mentioned, “I would never contend that those without wealth are better simply by the nature of that qualification. And I am not contending that those with riches cannot also be content, generous, humble, or connected.”

      I do disagree to a certain extent with “money only reveals who you are” thinking. While money is morally-neutral and not evil in and of itself, it does have a long track-record of changing people… and some of the research in the above article implies.

      But just to be clear, this is not a post that contends wealth is evil. The article was written to simply call people to rethink their desire to be rich as a forgone conclusion in their lives.

  9. says

    Hi Joshua, I appreciate your blog and perspective and also find beauty and joy in simplicity. But living simply after having had more financial resources has grown tiresome. At first (for many years) it was a breath of fresh air to realize that I didn’t need material things to be happy, but now it has become a constant reminder of what I don’t have, trips I can’t take, etc.

    I’d like to believe that if I continue to focus on being content, grateful, compassionate, etc. then my life will shift. Sometimes I lose the faith. Thanks, Brad

  10. says

    Content [with the material things we have], is the one I think most people struggle with.

    People confide in me that their finances are a mess: they are in debt, and they feel helpless and anxious. When we take an objective look at their financial situation, we usually uncover a home and life cluttered and bulging from unnecessary “stuff”.

    In many societies, there is an underlying consumerism woven into the very fabric of life and it’s ingrained from a young age. The difficult choice is deciding to consume less and to be grateful with what you have. It’s certainly not a switch you can throw, but a path to aspire to.

  11. suzie says

    Interesting post. I agree most with Miss Growing Green & Mathias. This has hit home especially for me this past year on several fronts. Please keep in mind I prefer simple and minimal as far as “stuff” is concerned. I recently was laid-off from a part-time job I had for 6 years. I’m currently doing “temp” work but with full-time hours. I didn’t realize until now how much of a difference the extra money makes. It has been a tremendous stress relief. Also I wonder if people take into consideration what happens if something catasrophic happens. It sure helps if you have enough money. We have had to deal with it on both sides of the family. My mother-in-law (age 92) had a sudden fall, ended up hospitalized, developed an aggressive infection as a result and then died, within a span of 3 months. My father (age 93, with alzheimers) was diagnosed with atrial fibulation and had to be sent to a nursing home. We are now discussing hospice care as his health is rapidly declining. This has all been going on this year. I can’t even begin to imagine the additional stress if there was not enough money for their care.

  12. says

    While I agree on some aspects, and before I disagree on some, I would like to say that it all depends on how you define “rich”. Starting from what amount of money in you bank would you define somebody as “rich”? You say that once our basic needs are covered money doesn’t contribute to our overall happiness, but at what point are they covered? What amount of money would be the “right” amount of money?

    Now to the disagreeing part:
    I think if money doesn’t make you happy, then you are spending it wrong. And money can buy you freedom. If I hadn’t saved some money, I wouldn’t have been able to quit my job (freedom no 1) and travel the world (freedom no 2). But then again, maybe I am not “rich” according to your definition?

  13. says

    Wealth is a great amount of anything — a wealth of friendships, love, and happiness, along with many of the other things you listed, are what I strive for.
    Thanks for a great post.

  14. Emmanuel says

    hello! first of all I apologize for not being able to write these lines in your language (I read your website with the google translator) I agree with your article, not much to Mathias because usually when you have a billion dollars you have the capasidad to understand the need for which has not and that makes it impossible to help.
    Mathias if you have a billion dollars and has what it takes to enterder to those without .. and help.
    are you really rich .. congratulations.

    also want compartirun story I read in Mark 12:41-44

    And he sat down with the treasury chests in view and began observing how the crowd was dropping money into the treasury chests, and many rich people were dropping in many coins. Now a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins of very little value. So he called his disciples to him and said to them: “Truly I say to you that this poor widow put in more than all the others who put money into the treasury chests. For they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her want, put in everything she had, all she had to live on.

    I hope you understand me and forgive my typos.

    congratulations on your website.


  15. Mathias says

    Emmanuel, I am unsure if I understood your question correctly. As I see it, material wealth is not the problem. The person with the material wealth is the problem (or the solution).

    I would also like to comment on Joshua´s comment. He wrote “While money is morally-neutral and not evil in and of itself, it does have a long track-record of changing people”. I agree that money is neutral, it´s a human creation. It becomes what we make of it. But still, Joshua, do you mean that a friendly, giving and poor person who becomes materially wealthy suddenly has the potential of becoming a horrible, non-giving, evil person? I can´t see how that could even happen. Why would that nice, friendly and giving human being suddenly become the opposite? What is his/her motive? Wouldn´t that character trait have been shown far in advance?

    As I see it, if you are a giving human being while being poor then why would you suddenly become less so when becoming materially wealthy?

    Look at Oprah Winfrey, she is known to be a very giving human being and she is materially wealth by anyones measure. Why is it that she is not stingy with her money? Obviously she hasn´t changed to the worse. Is there anything in her younger years that somehow points to her being the opposite of what she is now? Or has she been consistent? And if she has been consistent over the years, is she some sort of an anomaly?

    I am not trying to make you look bad, Joshua, I am just asking. I am confused. If money changes people to something worse, then Oprah would not be a giving human being. No? Logic would say that if rich people equals greedy, then obviously Oprah has to be greedy, which she does not seem to be. According to me, logic in this case is not a constant, it is a variable. The variable being: the person possessing the money/material wealth. Each person, though, does seem to depend on a certain constant. That constant being “character trait”. Each person can change his or her character trait as long as it is not biologically inherit in the person (i e mental disorder etc). Does money change that character trait or not? Well, that is the question. How would that happen. Yes, you can get used to having the comfort that material wealth brings with it. At the same time, does that comfort change a human being to the better or the worse? And if so, how do you prove it? Some people seem to be comfortable giving at the same time.

    I may be wrong, you (Joshua) may be wrong as well. Until we can prove, without a shadow of doubt, that money does change a human being or not, the question is open for debate. If I am proven wrong I will surrender my own current view on the subject. I am not debating to be right, I am debating to know what is really true or not. In order to do that we need to bring down the number of variables (right now, the variables are too many) to a minimum until we only have one constant (one empirical proof).

    Joshua, I do like your blog. I do like the concept of minimalism. I look forward to reading more from you.

  16. everlearning says

    This has been extremely interesting – both the post and the replies. Lots of very important points brought up and debated (kindly, I might add, and I appreciate that). I think Joshua’s points are a very good place to start. But so much is not set in stone, nor predictable, nor can it be generalized (as Joshua pointed out). My experience: Most of my growing up years were in a middle-class family – my father worked hard to make ends meet and have some “extra” for small vacations, etc. My mom raised four children and did not work for pay outside the home. We were very, very happy. My father’s situation changed when he one day made a sale that changed his financial situation exponentially. We four kids didn’t know about it. Life didn’t change (not enough to really notice, anyway). When we understood as young adults (20s and early 30s) that my parents were very wealthy, we all asked why they didn’t buy a bigger house, move to a “better” neighborhood, do this and that with their money, etc. My father’s response: Having more money should not change you. It’s nice, but if you have character, live justly, share your resources, have compassion – all the important things – then the money shouldn’t make a difference except perhaps that you are able to share more, make a bigger difference, and yes, live more easily (but not necessarily with more stuff). That really made me think. I look at Fred Rogers, who lived a simple life and stayed in the same modest home after he made lots of money with his Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood TV program, books, etc. And he was happy. Warren Buffet lives in a modest, simple home because that’s all he wants in a home. He has nothing to prove by buying a larger, more prestigious home. My husband and I have been married 31 years and raised 4 children. I do not work outside the home for pay. We have done our best to live this same way of life, and we are very happy. Everyone we know would be shocked at how much money we have because we live a very simple life. We went through a period of accumulating stuff about 10-15 years ago and found it very unsatisfying when it was over, but it was a good lesson. I pass along many of Joshua’s posts to our grown children. I will say this, however: As much as I am trying to clear out and simplify my life and my home, we have some beautiful and memorable family heirlooms passed down through the generations. I realize these are just things, and if I had to give them up I would, and if they burned in a fire I wouldn’t go to pieces. They bring fond memories to both my husband and me, and our children have loved the stories that go along with them about their ancestors. It’s STUFF – I get that – but there’s no reason to get rid of them just to prove I’m trying to be a minimalist. And I must include here that Joshua Becker NEVER says that it is necessary to give up everything to be part of the minimalist movement. We all minimize differently and that’s the beauty of it. None of this STUFF is more important to me than God, family, friends, and helping others (with money AND my time). I keep it all in perspective and try my best to live right. Sometimes I think the word Minimalist can be confusing. If I talk about it, people think I’m going to sell everything I have and move into one of those tiny houses – NOT A CHANCE!! Or, they think I’m not doing it “right” because I still have things in my house. To me, it means getting rid of whatever is getting in my way of living a meaningful life in the way I understand meaningful. I was with someone the other day who talked about what it means to him to be rich: R.I.C.H. – Respect, Integrity, Compassion, Humility. Seems to me to be a good way to be rich. I’m on the minimalism bandwagon, but having money and possessions doesn’t throw me off the wagon!

  17. Marya says

    I do not agree with “selflessness”! Selflessness in our society will result in being taken advantage of. It is just beautiful in speech and just in a perfect society.

    • says

      I disagree with this. Maybe some people will take advantage, but others will take what they need and maybe give more when they can. Case in point: the many people last night in Marietta, GA who went out in their 4WD vehicles to rescue strangers from their stranded vehicles, and the many others who welcomed stranded strangers into their houses overnight when they had to leave their cars.

      A selfless act is the height of beauty. I have been the recipient of them, and I have been the giver of them. It isn’t just talk.

  18. RunningMommy says

    I really just don’t get why people can not catch on that money and stuff DOES NOT bring happiness. They strive for more, but don’t thrive. I have my own story to tell. One of my adult best friends, unfortunately, lost her father in a car accident. She has loads of money now and has steadily grown more and more unhappy and well quite nasty. She often lashes out at me, since I refuse to enter the rat race of our culture. My husband makes enough for us to have a nice home, food and clothing. I don’t need to be in the pursuit of money, stress, rushing everywhere, etc. to have Jimmy Choo shoes, granite countertops, expensive vacations and brand new vehicles. I prefer to spend my time with my children, helping with my husbands business, volunteering (giving back to the community), pursuing my own hobbies and regular physical activities and a bit a couponing :) . I have truly “enough”. Don’t people catch on that the wealthy, the famous, the powerful often lead decrepit lives, with drug over doses, and excesses of all kinds.

    Especially, especially, in North American we have very few true needs (unmet) and many, many wants. This is not a matter of ambition, nor goals. But a condition of the heart and mind.

  19. Ken The Over-Thinker says

    Hi Joshua – love your posts. My favourite one is “We’re all trading our lives for something – trade up.” I’m still personally struggling with the notion of wanting to be victorious and the notion of living a free minimalist life apart from that, but your blog is helping.

    I would ask though that you also write a post clarifying the precise DANGERS of pursuing riches.

    While I agree with Miss Growing Green on the need for financial independence (as opposed to exorbitant riches and crushing poverty), I also would have to disagree with Mathias – my position would be that while money is similar to a magnifying glass, since nearly every person struggles with generous and selfish impulses the majority of people are liable to change for the worse when rich – not because they’re bad people but that money makes giving in to foolish temptation (which we all do have, even the saints) much more easier.

    If a wonderful person stays wonderful after inheriting riches, it just means that they still retain a large measure of self-control – admirable of course, but not every person who is good on the outside has fully accomplished that (you can never really fully know the thoughts and traumas and longings that people struggle with inside from their birth – Mathias’ hypothetical friendly, giving and poor person could still be in danger of being corrupted with riches, although we’d hope she wouldn’t have any problems. Simply asking “what would the motive be?” only reveals our lack of knowledge, not the non-existence of a motive).

    I know myself well enough that if I got rich, while I am usually nice to people I could easily turn bad if there was enough money to let me do so. As my mother replied to my childhood question as to why some seemingly nice rich and famous people do drugs – “Because they can.”

    Sorry for the long entry, but in closing I’d like Joshua to elaborate more on the dangers of pursuing riches (people like me tend to shut ourselves off from the “contentment, humility, integrity” talk as a case of “anybody can talk that talk”, but a list of reasons as to why pursuing and holding riches can actually HURT you most of the time might be more helpful).

    Oh, and well said Eva. I personally struggle with lack of ambition, but I would think that if one is to be ambitious at work, be ambitious for Joshua’s notion of significance, with financial success as a pleasant bonus along the way (I’m on the hunt for a way to achieve financial independence through doing something highly significant in the process. I know it’s possible – I’ve recently read the works of Rabbi Harold Kushner, whose touching books have also become bestsellers – I would personally recommend “When all you’ve ever wanted isn’t enough” as a guide to living a significant life).

    • Vish says

      Hi Josh,
      My name is Vish and I love and enjoy reading your blogs. But I have a different opinion on the “Dependent” part. You see dependency comes on need basis, once the need is gone so does the person. But if you are independent and still have a good trusting and respectful relationship with someone, that brings more content, joy and freedom.
      I would like to hear your feedback, on what basis did you write that one.
      Thanks and keep writing…

  20. Michelle says

    I think we should seek first to be truly rich in our ownselves thru our faith in God and love for other people. In that way our happiness is not centered thru material things but thru hope, faith and love. Once we have achieved this, even we are given material richness it would be put into good use because our true nature is good.

    If we are good in nature, we will seek riches not for ourselves but more to give back to those in need. This is because we would find contentment in giving and helping people those in need.

    I live in a third world country, my dream on becoming rich is rooted on the fact the I see a lot of kids in the street without any food to eat or even a good place to rest. Slum areas with families having a lot of children but no food to be place on the table.

    I love to be minimalist because this could allow me to be content only with the basic things i needed, and give more to others. I love to be rich so I could promote business that could provide a sustainable livelihood for these people.

    I want to give back 10% on to the church, 30% for myself and 70% to others. this is still a work in progress.

    You see we could embrace minimalism so we could provide richness to others.

  21. Michelle says

    sometimes the world is not always for you. we are living not really for ourselves but for other people. when we have understood this concept, we will stop being interested if we are being less ambitious or less competitive. the “me ” concept becomes small because we have bigger vision and bigger purpose. this is what Christianity is all about just as how He sacrificed Himself, so that others may live.

    I hope I’m able to shed some light.

  22. says

    Thank you for another insightful post. Thanks to you I more easily embrace my love of getting rid of “things”. Your current topic relates well to Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, which in brief for those not familiar is that it is difficult to aspire to the next level until we are fulfilling all the needs of the level we are on. Most western societies no longer struggle to fulfill all of basic life needs and often try to purchase a way in to the intangible things above. They cannot of course buy things like Love, Esteem, and Self Actualisation. To me becoming minimalist is understanding the true nature of what brings long lasting contentment and happiness. Thank you for illuminating the path. Steven

  23. says

    Another excellent and truly inspiring post Josh!! Following quote comes to my mind in this context as well:
    “The price we have to pay for money is sometimes liberty.”
    – Robert Louis Stevenson
    Totally spot on, money may fill your pockets (or your house or your garage), but not be fulfilling at all…
    Thanks for the inspiration!

  24. says

    Great post. I can personally testify to several of the pitfalls of seeking after riches. There aren’t many passages that I can say I absolutely know experientially. The following is one.

    “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.”

  25. Satu Jaatinen says

    I believe (now) that there is a balance that feels right for everyone differently potentially also differently at different times. If you perceive being poor as something you detest or if it makes you physically ill, you may strive for more material riches, for example. And when you get it, you may or may not detest / love spending so much of your time possessing. Since i suppose (now) that there there isn’t necessarily a way to swing the pendulum quicker, it may well be be that our experiences / needs / teachings / beliefs drive us, until they do not. That is then when one is ready to make a change….and I so thank you for the article. Made me test myself where I stand now. Could i live with less? Certainly. Would it make me happier? Maybe. Am i willing to try now? No although i have started making arrangements to enable this. What stops me? Enjoying the present enough not to change it. Will i be readier tomorrow? Maybe. Thanks for contributing to my awareness in this way.

    • Charley says

      Tonight I had dinner with woman who I freelance for. I was shocked to find that she makes over 40,000 in a month, at 27 years old. I am around her age, and barely make that in a year. My rent is constantly late, credit cards overdue, and my 80 hour work weeks seems fruitless.

      However, when this woman told me her purpose of asking me out to dinner, I was quite surprised. I figured she wanted to talk shop. After a glass of wine and a deep breath she told me that she was looking for advice. She revealed to me that the past few years she had worked so hard at ammasing wealth, she had neglected initimatacy all together. She now felt disconnected from the outside world, and nervous to begin dating agaun.Then she asked me if I, the coupon-cutting, plastic spoon washer was happy?

      I told her the truth. ” Yes, I am always happy. I feel healthy, my friends and family are wonderful, and I do my best every day.” She seemed puzzled at the confidence with witch I spoke.

      She continued to pepper me with questions over escargot, frogs legs, and far too much wine for a Tuesday night. She asked about my love life, habits, beliefs, and dreams. I learned about her as well. Her dream when she moved to the U.S. fro. China was to afford her favorite $400 shoes in every color. ” Now I have them all!” She replied with a smile. I asked her if those shoes made her happier. “No.” She said firmly with resolve.

      This is not a cautionary tale. I think working hard to better oneself financially is necessary. True poverty causes hardships that can spill over to family, friends, and government. However, it is imperative to put health, family, friends, and happiness first. My friend tonight has money hand over fist, but in her quest for wealth lost her relatability, health, love life, and therefore her confidence. I may be poor, but my carefree spirit is priceless.

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