The Simple Joy of One


“Anyone with two tunics should share with him who has none.” – John the Baptist

Four years ago, we made a bold, life-changing decision. We decided to intentionally live with fewer possessions. It had become very clear to us that our clutter was stealing time, energy, and focus from our pursuits that mattered most. And removing unneeded possessions would free up precious resources and opportunity.

We started right away working through each room, closet, and drawer in our home to remove the unnecessary clutter from our home and lives.

Along the way, we began noticing a troubling trend: duplicates. In fact, we owned duplicates of nearly everything. We began to quickly realize we had bought into thinking that went like this, “If owning one of something is nice, owning more will be even better.”

But we were wrong. And lately, I have begun to intentionally embrace a new philosophy. I have begun to appreciate the simple joys of owning one.

Consider the benefits of owning just one of an item:

  1. We own only our favorite of every object.
  2. We take better care of our belongings.
  3. We routinely use each of our owned possessions.
  4. We can quickly identify what needs to be repaired or replaced.
  5. We can easily identify the importance and purpose of each item.
  6. We create opportunity to own higher quality items.
  7. We find more capacity to help others with our excess.
  8. We experience increased intentionality in our purchases and possessions.

There is indeed a peaceful joy to be discovered in simply owning one. And this principle can be applied to almost any item we own: One coat. One spatula. One mug. One pen. One set of bedding. One television. One…

Surely, the practical implications of this principle will vary from household to household. Its opportunity will play out differently in your home than mine.

But the simple joy of owning one has too quickly been forgotten. It is time we remember its simple beauty… and live less cluttered lives because of it.

Image: Wolfgang Staudt

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. Helen says

    I loved this post! Over the past year I’ve been slowly getting rid of unnecessary possessions. Books, clothing, kitchenware etc have all been reduced and donated to charity. I feel so much more free and the house is easier to keep tidy. I used to go shopping all the time but I now I have more time for my hobbies and spending time with friends. If I do need to buy something I try and get rid of at least 2 items for every new one I bring into the house.

  2. Elizabeth W says

    Love this post. I recently seperated from my husband and we were able to divide our possessions and totally furnish 2 smaller houses. We had to buy a few small things but not many. I was stunned that we not only owned 2 of things sometimes 3, 4 or 5. I am much happier now n wont be buying more things.

  3. R. Fetherolf says

    I feel like I can muster up the courage to get rid of some pens & pencils! Not sure how I am going to handle the Legos! (just kidding)

  4. Amy says

    After reading many, many of your posts I decided to download Simplify and Clutter Free with Kids books a couple of weeks ago and have started both of them. Ironically just this week my 4 year old came into the room and told me that she is going to give away more of her toys because she really liked having a clean room. Out of the mouth of babes!! She gets it more than her 34 year old mom! Thank you for the change you are bringing. God has used this concept of simplifying to change my life over the last 3-4 years. You are a part of this very important season in my life and I am seriously considering the 1 concept.

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