Ten years ago, I was introduced to a word and a lifestyle that changed my life forever. I was introduced to minimalism and the reality that by owning less, I could live more.
As we began removing physical possessions that we did not need from our home and life, we suddenly found more money, more time, more focus, more energy, less stress, and more opportunity to pursue our greatest passions in life.
During the process, I discovered a life-changing principle:
Addition by subtraction.
That when we remove the things from life we do not want, we make more room for the things in life we do.
And when we remove the things from life we do not need, we create space for the things in life we do.
This is a principle that extends beyond physical possessions—it has impact in countless other areas of life as well.
In a recent issue of Simplify Magazine, ASU Economics Professor Kelvin Wong wrote about Opportunity Cost and the significance of it in our daily lives. “Every choice we make comes with a cost, even those that are monetarily free, since even our time or energy can be put to alternative uses.”
Our lives are finite. We have a limited amount of money, and time, and energy, and space. And we only get one chance to live our best life. What we decide to allow in has a profound impact on its direction.
In fact, one of the most important decisions you will ever make in life is deciding what is most important in life.
Deborah K says
This is so true for me. I live a simple life by the beach. I’ve decluttered things that do not move me forward. I get to embrace nature and walk my dog and earn a living doing what I love. I also have decluttered some thoughts along the way too, thoughts that have held me back! Minimalism it works on the physical, emotional and mental plane!
Love your comment about the importance of deciding WHAT IS important in your life. Sometimes the decision is not only cluttered by physical possessions but also by others imposing their wants upon you. I struggle with separating these other “wants” out from my own wants and needs.
Always love reading your writing!
choose simple says
“Addition by subtraction.”
That’s a great principle! I haven’t think of minimalism that way until now.
you had me at ” one of the most important decisions you will ever make in life is deciding what is most important in life.”
I love the idea of addition by subtraction. I’m working on it!
J caro says
We were forced to move out of our house due to circumstances beyond our control. Three years ago I started reading about minimalism and simplicity. We now have five tall people and three dogs living in a 500 square foot fifth wheel trailer. While our reason for relocation isn’t ideal we are all seeing the benefits of smaller living. We are all on board with ridding our lives of the extra stuff and if we ever decide to be in a house with a foundation again we will transfer our rethought life there! Subtraction does add so much to our life!
” one of the most important decisions you will ever make in life is deciding what is most important in life” – so so true!! Thanks for one more great article!
I completely agree with this post but tbh the title was a bit too close to Common Core math for my liking lol
Mrs. Dragonfly says
Things take time to manage and organize. Unless your partner experience the constraints of time to manage and organize, s/he is not going to change his way. Where we live now lack of storage space and literally, if we buy something, we have to get rid of something we already have. Maybe it’s not thing issue but space to keep things problem?
My husband started us on our minimalist journey without even knowing there is a term “minimalism”. He just felt weighted down and wanted to “prune” back our lives–like a bush. I grateful he took us in this direction. For those whose spouses struggle, would it be a compromise to rent a storage unit and organize things in it really well? Just a brainstorm thought….best wishes.
In “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”, Marie Kondo suggests discarding our own things first i.e. our own clothes, our own books, our own paper etc. Our family members may be more likely to sign on to the idea when the see the change in us. This has worked in our family.
Anon Please says
I feel the same as some of the above commenters. My husband does not shop much, but he also never gets rid of anything. He has obsolete computer programming textbooks from the 1990s, etc. Things in bins in the basement since we moved into the house nearly 15 years ago. He used to talk of setting up a display table for his train set. The trains are some of the things in his unopened bins.
Yes! If you subtract the negative that is addition (mathematically, 3 – (-2) = 5). If you remove the negative, unneeded things in your life, the net result is positive. :)
choose simple says
I love this illustration, Mara!
100% agree, I got into the whole ‘minimalism’ thing a few years ago and haven’t looked back! Yes I make the odd asos order here and there but for the most part only when I really need it. I’ve cut back massively and my home is rather minimal too!
Alicia G says
Could you convince the person to “let” you box it up and get it out of the living space? Label the boxes and if they really want a DVD they were missing, they can go get it from storage area in your home?
I kind of did that with some mess that was driving me nuts and husband wouldn’t clear up. I just put it all in a big bin and in the closet. If he really needed any of it, it is there so he didn’t feel like I was getting rid of his things…..but I have yet to see him get the box out to retrieve anything…..
I was going to say the same thing as you did. What did it for my husband was to listen to one of Joshua’s talks. After hearing how Joshua changed his life my husband understood minimalism better and got on board.
Marianne Hammonds says
How do I get my husband on board.? He rarely gets rid of anything. I can get rid of my stuff but I’m not even allowed to get rid of household items we are not using, books, cds, dvds etc.
Zelda Pitts says
Ditto. How do you convince a spouse to let go of things they haven’t seen in years, but stores anyway?