Two Life-Rejuvenating Lessons from Two Years of Minimalism

Two years ago, I got my life back.

I found minimalism.

As a result, my life has been energized, refreshed, vitalized… rejuvenated.

It’s been a crazy ride. What began as a simple, two-minute conversation with my neighbor has changed my life for the better in areas I never thought possible. I have learned countless lessons during our two-year journey towards minimalism, but none are more rejuvenating than these two:

1. Possessions weigh down your life. Possessions are heavy and cumbersome. And more than I knew, they were slowing me down. They demanded my time, energy, attention, and focus. Since I was young, consumerism has taught me that possessions would make my life better. They were wrong. Too many possessions will steal your life from you. They need to be purchased, transported, organized, cleaned, sorted, fixed, and managed. They keep us from the ones we love and from living a life based on our values. They cause us to lose our life rather than find it. Life is better with less. You become lighter and freer with less material things holding you back from the life you were born to live. If I could go back, I would buy a smaller house, a smaller car, less stuff. And my life would be better because of it.

2. Your life is far more valuable than the things that you own. In fact, if your greatest desire in life is to own more things, you are selling yourself short – way too short. But unfortunately, society has told us that our greatest dreams should consist of “doing well in school, getting a high-paying job, and buying a really nice house with lots of cool things.” That is a shame because we can dream better dreams. We can dream bigger dreams. Our life can be far more valuable than the things that we own. Our lives can be built on the things in life that really matter… love, hope, charity, relationships, influence, significance, spirituality. Choose to live for the invisible, eternal things of life, not the physical things that will perish, spoil, or fade.

I was asked recently if I would ever go back to the lifestyle I led before becoming a minimalist. “No way, ” I said, “I feel like I wasted too many years of my life chasing the wrong things.”

Luckily, two years ago, I found minimalism.

And I got my life back.

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

    this is so inspiring. i am totally into de-cluttering and lately came across some candles i bought on my honeymoon. reading more articles like yours reminds me that i can give up those candles and preserve memories and photos of the trip. and its the small stuff that is more bothersome than the big items. the kick i get out of removing things is so much that i can go without food and sleep if it meant that we remove all the unnessary. thanks once again. love reading all your posts!

  2. Erick says

    Very helpful advice! My wife and I are looking now at buying our first house and don’t want to fall into the trap of “go as big as you can.” Especially when a key part of life is getting out of the house.

  3. says

    I’m still not ready to absolutely label myself a minimalist — most likely because I reject labels of any kind — but I couldn’t agree more with your 2 points about possessions.

    The junk that (still) clutters my home and life draws energy from me, and with all the things in life that I enjoy, I can’t afford to lose any physical or spiritual energy on things that are meaningless to me.

    I’m almost halfway through my yearlong life decluttering, and things are looking better for me everyday.

  4. says

    Josh, for a long time I’ve had a question: did you ever meet your neighbor’s daughter? If you did, it would be very satisfying to read about it. :) If you didn’t, does she even know how the mention of her changed someone’s life?

    I’ve been carrying loads of things to the Goodwill every weekend, and this last weekend I took pictures of a bunch of sentimental items and I let them go. Even though my husband is not into minimalism, the house is simplifying more than I would have believed when I started.

  5. says

    @Rachel. Funny you should ask. I told my neighbors about one month ago how much that conversation meant to me. They, of course, didn’t even remember the conversation. But were excited to check out the website. No word on the daughter yet.

  6. Deb J says

    How right you are. I just wish I could get my mother to understand this. I’ve done about as much as I can without her buying in. She is slowly making some changes but has a long way to go before I would call her anywhere near being a minimalist. She doesn’t understand the idea of things being a weight that drags her down or that they require a lot of care.

  7. Di says

    Congratulations, Joshua, on your two-year anniversary. Reading about your journey towards becoming minimalist has been inspiring and challenging and has helped others like me stay the course. Thanks!

  8. says

    Hi there! I’m happy to have found this blog and hope to pick up many pointers. Amy from New Nostalgia directed me here (http://amy-newnostalgia.blogspot.com/).

    As I told Amy — I often think about the lyrics of Janis Joplin’s song: “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to loose”. Doesn’t that sound wonderful?

  9. says

    Great post. I am on a steady path of reducing, reducing. It’s very liberating. I’m starting to think that one of the reasons it’s so powerful is that it gives one a sense of control in life and it’s when you don’t have control that people start resorting to addictions such as drugs, sex, food… the list goes on.

    I guess if I were truly enlightened, it wouldn’t matter if there were piles of junk or none around me. It’s neither good nor bad.

  10. says

    Great, succinct (dare I say, minimalist) summary of the lessons of your transformation.

    I am still a little early in my journey, but I am already feeling the release and peace of mind that comes from letting go of attachment to physical “stuff” and focusing on intangible things.

  11. Gil says

    Josh..Found your blog by accident and it’s excellent. I’m currently in the “transitory” stage towards minimalism, but I have gotten rid of about 70-80% of the things I owned and have a bit more to do. Honestly, it is physically and mentally refreshing to let go of these items. It’s not easy, but not impossible either.

    I won’t eliminate every single possession, but I just want to have only what I need and enjoy. My SO is not on the same path I am towards minimalism, but still supports me. Furthermore she is super organized and it seems we can at least co-exist, lol. I can’t “convert” her or anyone else, but I can at least control my own things, my spending and outlook towards things.

    I can’t beat myself up over the past and my accumulation and fascination with things, but I can start anew today and forward. I would like my own minimalism to be a journey within itself.

  12. says

    This is such a great post. You managed to say so much with so little, I love it. I have been feeling more and more like these in recent years and you managed to say everything I was feeling. Thanks.

    Steve

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