“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” — Hans Hofmann
Four years ago, my neighbor looked on as I pulled item after item out of my garage. Winter had ended in Vermont and our Saturday morning had been committed to spring cleaning around the house. I chose the garage. Unfortunately, minutes turned into hours. And hours turned into most of the morning and into the afternoon.
Fortunately, my neighbor noticed my frustration and introduced me to a brand new way of life when she asked quite simply, “Maybe you don’t need to own all this stuff?”
And a minimalist was born.
Starting immediately, and for the next months (and even years), my wife and I began systematically removing unnecessary possessions from our home. We sold, donated, or recycled items from nearly every aspect of our lives: clothes, toys, decorations, cookware, entertainment, sporting goods, furniture, storage—the list goes on. Eventually, even moving into a smaller house.
As a result, we have discovered some amazingly practical benefits to owning less. We have more money left in our pockets. We have more time available at our disposal. We have removed ourselves from the consumer-driven culture around us. We experience less stress on a daily basis. And we have discovered more freedom to pursue the things in life that we truly value.
Because we have chosen to live with less, we have found more opportunity to invest in relationships, grow spiritually, experience gratitude, express generosity, discover truth, and find contentment. With our newfound time, money, and energy, we are free to pursue our greatest passions.
An important realization quickly followed. Minimalism is less about the things you remove and more about the things you add. The joy of minimalism lies in what you choose to pursue with your life rather than material possessions. And in that way, minimalism is far more about addition than it is about subtraction.