Minimalists Don’t Have Less. We Have More.

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Jessica Dang of Minimal Student.

As people, since childhood, we are told that we should always want more and more. That we should grab as much as we can. We spend our lives earning more money to buy houses bigger than we need, to buy more clothes than we can wear and flashy cars just to get from A to B. We’re told to stuff ourselves at Thanksgiving and Christmas, fill our schedules with appointments and errands, keep up with all the media that surrounds us on TV, in magazines and on the internet. We’re told to take whatever we can, and as much of it as possible. But many of us know there is another way.

“Live simply so others may simply live.”

As a minimalist, I’ve based my life around this philosophy. I’ve stopped taking more than I need and used my extra time, effort and money to help others that need it more than I do. I’ve supported and encouraged people to make changes in their lives for the better. And by consuming less, I’ve greatly reduced the amount I contribute to the world’s pollution and waste. I’m very proud of what I’ve done for others, but for some people, helping others may not be enough to push them to make the changes they need.

So, how about:

“Live simply, so I may simply live.”

It’s true, in a big way, that minimalists have less. We have fewer clothes, shoes and accessories. We have smaller houses. We may have clearer schedules. We might not even own a car. But does that mean we live unhappier lives? Is it always worse to have less?

Of course it’s not.

If we owned fewer things, we wouldn’t have to worry about our stuff breaking, becoming redundant, getting lost or stolen. We wouldn’t have to worry about money, debt, doing overtime, the high costs of rent, gas for our car or our shopping habits.

If we weren’t so busy with work, appointments and commitments our heart isn’t into any more, we’d actually have time to spend with the people we love. We could actually talk about things that we’re worried about, what the kids did at school today or simply how we’re feeling. We could go to the park, have a picnic, go to a museum, theatre, concert or why not just throw caution into the wind and skydive with friend?

If we gave up watching TV four hours a day, we could use that time to learn something new, like a foreign language, how to cook, or take up an instrument. We wouldn’t be bombarded so much by people we don’t know telling us how pretty our houses should be, how pretty our clothes or hair should be and basically how to live our lives.

If we didn’t own a car, or just drove less to work or school, we could walk or ride our bikes instead. We could taste the morning air, feel the rain (it’s only water) stretch our legs and enjoy seeing the world as it really is, instead of constantly from the inside a metal box.

If we ate less, or just more simple foods instead of processed garbage, we wouldn’t have to do as much exercise to work it off (or feel guilty for not doing it). We wouldn’t have to deal with the confidence blows every time we look in the mirror or stand on those scales. We wouldn’t have to worry about the long term health problems that may arise because we concentrated too much on the short term pleasure of that third helping.

And finally, if we gave up being so attached to stuff, then we’d have the time and freedom to follow our dreams.

I gave up nearly everything in my wardrobe, my car, shelves of books and hundreds of other things to follow my dream of living in Japan for a year and traveling around Asia. Now I’m doing and seeing the kinds of things I thought only existed through a TV screen. I get to meet the most fascinating people, eat the most simple and yet fresh and delicious food, and go to the see the most beautiful places. I’m happier now than I ever was owning all of those things people told me would ‘make me happy’.

It was totally worth standing up, going against the flow and making a change. Minimalists may have less stuff, but we definitely have more of what life is made of.

***

Jessica is minimalist who likes traveling, photography and has a tiny obsession with Japan. If you want to find out what she is up to on her minimalist journey, check out her blog Minimal Student. You could also find her on Twitter.

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. says

    Wow, powerful. And so glad to have a new minimalist inspired blog to follow!

    I loved this part – “If we weren’t so busy with work, appointments and commitments our heart isn’t into any more, we’d actually have time to spend with the people we love.” I live in NYC and it’s hard to explain, but having a social life is akin to having a part-time job. There’s such limited time, it’s a workaholic culture, and everyone is just going, going, going. I’m trying to incorporate more parks, outdoors, and hobbies in my life that make me happy and leave more room for friends, writing letters or emails, and phone calls.

  2. says

    You took the argument for minimalism from vague philosophical points and outlined real, detailed benefits to taking up a life with less … amazing, amazing post, I will be re-tweeting this!

  3. says

    LOVE this post! My husband and I have been minimalists for years now and I’m finally realizing the true value of this lifestyle. Been able to spend lots of time with my kids and husband this year just “being” with them! Thanks for the reminder that we are doing things right!

  4. says

    Fantastic, The more I reduce the less stress I feel. I have been paring down for a while now and it is super cool. My problem is I spent way too much time playing the consumption game and now in my early thirties, it is taking us a long time to get cut back. Some day we will be close enough to start traveling and following our hearts desires. Reading posts like this make it easier for me to know we are heading in the right direction. Congrats for getting on Joshuas blog it looks like you deserve to be here. We will speak to you later.

    Justin

  5. Travis says

    Recently I loaned out a book to a relative notorious for not returning stuff (she loans them out to others). I told them that “I really want this book back” but did I? Upon reflection I most certainly did not want it back. Well the universe delivered what I truly wanted and that book is long gone even though I had not voiced this desire.

    :)

  6. says

    Absolutely fantastic. You just gained a follower :)

    I think I may have just realized that I am a minimalist at heart. I’m currently in the process of paying off a student loan, and so dedicate most of my money toward paying it off at an extremely accelerated pace. To this end, I don’t buy a lot of stuff, just what I need. To be perfectly honest, I don’t think that will change when I have that extra money each month. I’m content with what I have, and have pondered getting rid stuff that I don’t use. Why have it laying around if you don’t use it?

  7. Isaac says

    I’m so glad to find someone who thinks alike. After reading your article, I found there are so many similarities between us. I have been practicing minimalism for years now. Keep up the good work. Btw, you just gained a new follower for your blog.

  8. says

    since i was 15, i was a minimalist. obviously i was ostracized by family as well as friends alike. of course, since i was 15, i was (and still am) the happiest person i knew. very little possessions = very little worries : )

  9. Angie says

    Great article. I too have been practising minimalism for years, and it’s an ongoing process that I have found also ties in with the emotional process of ‘letting go’. I find as I move closer to my core nature, the need for owning ‘stuff’ on the outside, to mirror who I am on the inside, becomes less and less. I find that I am moving closer to only keeping that which I use, with far less emphasis on what I think I need, or even am attached to for memory’s sake.

    This year I have been able to use some money (and I live sparingly & on a tight budget), to put together two gift boxes (of stationary, toiletries & clothing) for two young teenager friends, who are in a less fortunate position than me. It becomes less about the selfish hoarding of possessions, and more about gratitude for the simpler life, freeing you to give back to others. That’s what I’ve noticed anyway.

    :)

  10. Kim Luu says

    “if we gave up being so attached to stuff, then we’d have the time and freedom to follow our dreams.”

    Like this sentence, helps me a lot. Recently, I just feel that simplicity is not easy to practise at all, but I am still trying. For a better life.

  11. Connie Jo says

    I have just in the last month or so started feeling like I really need to empty my house of unneeded possessions. I donated many things, have given away a few and sold some of the more expensive things. My neighbor has called me a minimalist for years, but I can see, I truly have not been. Every time I look at something else in my house, I feel the need to get rid of it. So This is really quite new to me. I have actually had people ask me if I was dying, just because I don’t want these “things” anymore. I hope that I can continue this journey and truly rid my life of these possessions. Thank you so your words, they have helped me to see some of the reasons I feel this way. Have a blessed day.

  12. Lisa says

    Wow, this really resonated with me. I’ve only discovered minimalism a few months ago but already it has changed my life. I’m so much happier and feel lighter. Thanks for this well written and motivating article. You have a new follower. All the best to you.

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