Dear Mother/Father/Grandparent of a Minimalist,
I should probably start with a quick introduction. My name is Joshua. I’m 38 years old. I live in Peoria, AZ with my beautiful wife and two wonderful kids. For most of my life, I lived a relatively-typical suburban existence. But then something changed, I decided to become a minimalist.
For me, the change happened one Saturday afternoon while cleaning my garage. My driveway began to fill up with physical possessions that needed to be cleaned and reorganized. Meanwhile, in the backyard, my son played alone kindly asking me to play with him.
At one point, I commented to my neighbor about all the time and energy required to maintain my house and my belongings. She replied, “Well, maybe you don’t need to own all this stuff.” I remember the comment like it was yesterday. I looked at the pile of junk in my driveway… I glanced at my young son alone in the backyard… and in that moment, I realized my possessions were not bringing me joy. Even worse, they were distracting me from the things that did. A minimalist was born.
Today, I wanted to write you a letter.
Someone you love dearly has recently made the same decision I made years ago. They have decided to intentionally live with fewer possessions. And now, they are forwarding this article to you because they would like to further explain minimalism and their decision.
Likely, there are a few things they’d like you to know:
1. Minimalism may be counter-cultural. But the lifestyle is not new—neither is the appeal. For thousands of years, people have been intentionally choosing to simplify their lives and live with fewer possessions. Minimalism is not new, nor is it a fringe movement. Material possessions have always failed to satisfy the deepest longings of our heart. And it is great to see in our world today, simplicity becoming more and more popular.
2. Minimalism is highly customizable. People embrace minimalism for any number of reasons: travel, entrepreneurship, the environment, or simply so they can focus more time on the things that matter most. Regardless of the motivation behind the decision, minimalism will always be applied uniquely. It has to be. We all enter at different stages in life with different passions. As a result, minimalism has no hard-and-fast rules. We are all going to apply it a little bit differently.
3. We are experiencing many life benefits living with less. We may try to convince you. Apologies in advance for any lack of patience. Minimalism offers countless life benefits. Almost immediately, we find more time, energy, focus, and money for the things that bring lasting joy into our lives. We spend far less time shopping, organizing, cleaning, and rearranging. We find greater opportunity to pursue our greatest passions. It’s fantastic! And because we love you, we are going to try and convince you of the same. Apologies in advance for anything we say that is not motivated by love, grace, and patience.
4. This could be a passing fad for your son/daughter, but it’s probably not. Certainly, there are some people who choose to embrace minimalism for only a passing season. But most people I know choose to embrace it for the rest of their lives. It’s just a better way to live.
5. Removal of the things you have given is not a rejection of you or your love. One of the most-asked questions I receive comes from people who are afraid of offending someone by getting rid of something that was given to them. There is a fear that removing it will result in hard feelings by the original giver. Most likely, this includes things you have given to your son, daughter, or grandchild. Some of them are going to be sold, donated, or thrown away. Rest assured this is not a rejection of you or your love in any way. Instead, it is based solely and entirely in their pursuit of living with less. Please do not take it personally.
6. Kindly reconsider the gifts you are going to give. Minimalists find great joy and intentionality living with less. We have worked hard to remove the clutter from our home and life. And it probably took far more physical and emotional energy than we realized when we first got started. But now, we fear the slippery-slope of accumulating clutter and allowing consumer-based happiness to creep back into our lives. You can help by reconsidering the gifts you give them and their kids. Minimalists are not against gift-giving. We really do appreciate them. But we enjoy experiences over possessions, quality over quantity, and needs over wants. We hope you will respect that decision.
In conclusion, your son/daughter has decided to simplify their lives. They have decided their lives are far too valuable to waste chasing possessions. You ought to be very proud of them. This is good news.
Sincerely, Joshua Becker
Image: Glyn Lowe Photoworks