“Money often costs too much.” ―Ralph Waldo Emerson
Today, in most societies, the pursuit of wealth has become inevitable— almost as if the desire to be rich is already a forgone conclusion in our lives.
The prevailing view is that wealth is good, that it should be pursued, that material possessions and riches enhance our enjoyment in life, and that wealth provides opportunity to find greater fulfillment in life.
But recently, I have come to realize the pursuit of riches is based on a faulty premise. It is based on the incorrect rationale that the presence of money is always good—that it always brings benefit into our lives. This is not always the case.
Once our basic needs have been met, money contributes very little to our overall happiness and well-being. But more than that, there are actually a number of inherent dangers in possessing riches. Or maybe I should say, at the very least, there are better things to be than rich. And we’d live more fulfilled lives if we began chasing after them with as much intensity as we seek riches.
Consider just this short list of Things Better to Be Than Rich:
Content. Contentment is far more valuable than riches because whoever finds contentment is always satisfied. Money comes and goes—sometimes quickly. But contentment rises above our circumstance and offers happiness regardless of our financial state.
Generous. Jeff Shinabarger says it well, “Anything we find that is more than enough creates an immediate opportunity to make others’ lives better.” Our resources can accomplish great things in this world—but not if we keep them to ourselves.
Free. Jim Sollisch has recently come to this understanding. Often in our pursuit of wealth and bigger bank accounts, we sacrifice freedom. We think riches will provide greater freedom for our lives, but we rarely recognize how much freedom we have actually sacrificed in our attempt to simply find more of it.
Selfless. Choosing to live selfless lives that seek the benefit of others brings meaning, purpose, and lasting impact to our short lives. While living selfish, self-centered lives is neither attractive or fulfilling.
Honest. No compromises, no regrets. Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and harmful desires. Given the choice, we should choose honesty, integrity, and character any day. It makes laying our head on the pillow each night that much sweeter.
Passionate. It is far greater to have a career and life we love waking up to in the morning than a high-paying job that brings no satisfaction, provides no positive contribution, and provokes no passion in our day.
Dependent. There is greater security to be found in lasting, trusting relationships than wealth. Dependence on others teaches us this truth. But even more importantly, it also allows us to experience the goodness of other people.
Compassionate. The statistics continue to hold true. The more wealth we obtain, the less compassion and empathy we feel towards those without. And as a result, the less we contribute.
Humble. Wealth often brings with it a certain level of pride—or at least, a more-necessary intentionality to remove prideful tendencies. Sometimes this pride comes from within and sometimes it is encouraged by others. Meanwhile, humility quietly calls us to embrace its hidden power and freedom. It would be a shame to miss it at the expense of riches.
Resourceful. Learning how to live with less is an important pursuit. It teaches us the value of the things right in front of us and forces us to appreciate them even more.
Connected. Riches do not result in deeper relationships. In fact, often times, they have the opposite effect. But intimate, connected relationships continue to provide the joy in our lives money can never produce.
Perseverant. Perseverance is a powerful characteristic that can only be discovered through trial. And while riches cannot remove every trial in life, they can often remove just enough to keep perseverance from ever taking root in our heart.
Happy. As I mentioned, once our basic needs have been met, money contributes very little to our overall happiness and well-being. Gratitude, generosity, and contribution produce far more. And that is the real goal: to live lives of joy and fulfillment and help others to do the same.
Now, please don’t misread me. I am not contending that those with riches cannot also be content, generous, humble, or connected. I know many incredibly generous people who could also be described as wealthy. And I would never contend that those without wealth are better simply by the nature of that qualification. Lastly, I would never confess to have arrived fully in any of the categories listed above.
But I do believe with all my heart the pursuit of riches can lead to great danger. It is not a pursuit to be automatically accepted as the wisest course of action for our lives. In fact, as soon as it is removed, we provide greater opportunity for these better things to be true in our lives. And there are indeed, far better things to be than rich.
Image: Daniele Zedda
this article is exactly how I perceive wealth to be success and status. it’s not about how much money you have. money doesn’t mean your better than anyone
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Thank you Joshua. I have been following you for some time but was getting a little tired of articles telling me the benefits of minimalism and tidying up. I get it. This carves a deeper track and I am grateful. I retired at 53 and live a simple but full life on a small pension. I have my family, garden, a mortgage free house, enough to pay the bills and even go on vacation. Most of all I have time and that is more precious than any amount of gold.
Kisha clarke says
Very sad story – u have but u don’t choose to give for no reason what so ever, it’s a eye opener x
Otto Yisanoba says
Good Job Joshua Becker.God bless you
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Thank you all
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Deonilyn Gramo says
I just want to share this, I do not have work today. Next month, maybe I will be working. I am on a tight budget. Just this morning, an unknown number appeared on my phone’s screen. When I picked it up, it was the pregnant woman I just met in a public vehicle during my visit to my partner. This woman I remembered in pain, I asked her why. She said, she was having difficulties with her pregancy. And all she had was a bottled water and a biscuit. I told her I can help her to get financial aid. I gave her my number so that I can contact her regarding the process to avail financial aid.When I was about to get off, I gave her 100 pesos discretely. It was not that much but I was hoping to help. Few days later, she called me at around 2 am. She was in panick. She said her eldest daughter is very sick and she has no money. She was asking me to lend her some money. I only had enough that time but she said she has no one to borrow money from.
She was crying. I finally agreed to lend her my saved money, which was 1,500 pesos or approxately 33 dollars so she could bring her daughter to the hospital. We met early in the morning, she was very pale, her daughter was burning with fever. She said she will pay me back when she got money. I said it is ok, I am more concerned of her, a sick pregnant woman with her sick daughter. That was the last time I heard from her. I once asked her if she is already financially stable because I need my money that time. There was no reply. Until this morning.
I was surprised. I can’t even remember how much she owed me. I was even more touched by her actions. She kept apologizing for taking her too long to pay me back but I said it is ok, and I am more thankful to you.
It is such a great start of my day. Many have borrowed money from me, but forgot to pay me back, but who cares. Kindness has no price anyway.
I won’t stop giving because generousity is one of the reason why I think I am rich.
ADAIR ROWLAND says
The surprise on this list was “dependent.” It’s accurate but often pre-packaged with “humble.” Dependent is an example of humility in action. Too often, we have to lose our ability to be make it on our own to recognize the depth of love and support that’s out there, to see it’s never by ourselves alone.
The real rich is the one who has these characters!
Mark S says
Thank you to Joshua Becker for this brilliantly insightful article.
Mark S says
Through my vocation I have known and become “friends” with many very wealthy people. As far as I know, I am acquainted with 7 billionaires, and some other people worth $100 million or more. We see each other often enough, and engage in conversation, exchange e-mails, send Christmas/holiday cards, etc.
Recently, I have had quite a disastrous time, everything has fallen apart, and I have gone broke and am frightened that I will end up on the street. All these super-wealthy people know what has happened and are aware of the state my life is in.
One of them, a billionaire, stopped talking to me when he found out I went broke, and we had actually been friends for 7 years! I think he is terrified that I might ask him for loan, that’s the only thing I can guess.
Another one, who identifies as a “devout Jesus follower,” and attends church every Sunday, just sent me a message, “I am sorry to hear of your struggles,” but, of course, he’s not going to help me (and I sure wouldn’t ask!). I guess he never opened the Bible, so he probably doesn’t know there are words inside. He’s fine with me going to live in the street and/or starving to death.
The Bible has hundreds of verses about being giving and charitable and helping others out and doing the right thing. It also admonishes those that are rich to love God (which means loving what is good and right in your heart), and loving your neighbor as yourself, instead of putting my money first.
All the others don’t care, including one for whom I have done an endless series of very nice things, for which I didn’t get paid. She’s probably worth $100 million or more, but she is not about to help me out in any way, shape or form.
These people don’t have money, money has them. They love money more than they love anything else. They would rather see me living in the street than to even offer to give me a loan so that I can get things back on track. I think if you were to ask them, “Would you rather see him dead, or would you buy him a bag of groceries?” they love money so much that they would choose my death.
Recently, I was down to my last $900. I saw a guy inside a trash can so I got to talking to him and I felt compelled to give him $90 from my wallet, so I did. These billionaires wouldn’t have given him anything, I’m sure, because their hearts are dark and the love of God doesn’t abide in them (it can’t abide in them, the love of money fills that spot).
Even forgetting religion or a spiritual aspect of life, it’s still a kind and decent thing to do to help someone who needs it. I think only a bad person refuses to help someone if they’re able to help someone. A billionaire is obviously able to help their friends and acquaintances…they simply choose not to…and choosing not to is what makes them bad people.
I do not admire the wealthy. Rich people are the worst people imaginable. So incredibly selfish and uncaring. Actually I shouldn’t call them “uncaring,” that’s not fair, they do care about something – money!
E. C. says
I’m very sorry you are hurting and in such a bad way. I know people who are rich that spent thousands on medical bills of mere acquaintances.
I’d consider asking if your friends need help with any odd jobs etc. I know you probably have. It is only a thought.
Praying for you and hoping things change soon.
Kiera G. says
I’m so sorry for your current situation. I hope that since your comment has been published you’ve found some relief.
Suzy Toronto says
Things could be worse. You could be them. Can you even imagine the demons and battles they must be fighting to be that way. So sad.
What is your vocation? You’re not a priest or you’d not be worried about having a roof over your head. There has to be some options for you. In my experience vocations mean paying jobs so I’m curious about your situation. I hope things are better.
Martin. You are way off on Bill Gates. Even by his own admission, his success came down to luck and being in the right place at the right time. If he didn’t start Microsoft, someone else would have. There’s a great book called Outliers that explains how people become great….and it’s not how you’d expect. 90 % comes down to the luck of where you were born, when you were born and the family connections you were born into.Some intelligence and a good work ethic make up the other 10 percent.
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Going back to the main topic, “minimalist” is loving God by loving neighbor [by being humble (taking the form of a servant), contented (by accepting what God gives them), and generous (by sharing all what’s left of him/her)].
All these minimalist acts can be seen thru Jesus Christ. Let us seek Him.
Calm is also a great thing to be
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Facepalm and Sigh says
I dunno there is some catch 22, basic word meaning, and other problems.
For instance to be honest you CANNOT oversell OR undersell yourself, either would be a direct and intentional lie(a lie you are aware of and intentionally making)one with the core motivation greed/fear and the other with the motivations of lack of confidence(shame(you feel damaged))/fear. Honesty mixing with the other aspects is also ENTIRELY about compromising, one cannot interact with others or be nonselfish withtout being willing and readily comprimising (though don’t confuse comprimise with betrayal, see the point that you can neither under nor oversell yourself) and being accepting.
Selflessness is a logic/reason trap, and it contradicts all the other points in the article (you can’t be selfless, and do all the other things mentioned in the article to do, since selflessness is self excluding and prevents you from working on yourself or being minimalist since both those are highly selfish acts and motivations).
Compassion: you went off topic, people SEEM to become less compassionate towards those with less than they make, because they made it on their own and without help, via independence becoming learned, pursuing their ideals goals or even by helping others, so they KNOW at if they were to show it (pity, which you have confused with compassion in that section) hey know it would only damage that person’s potential and individual success, they know it would be a detrimental and damagin action to commit, so they refrian as much as they are able, and it is quite difficult. They learn not to enable people’s negative(detrimental) traits and behavior so that they will clean up their act and grow and bloom on their own.
Dependence: this one is complicated, dependency is actually a very immature emotional state to be in (its next just after helplessness, which is the state where you unable or incapable of helping yourself(such as a new born babe, an unconscious person, , a comatose individual, etc)), now you might have been refering to stage three of Co-Dependence (or group dependence) which is an okay state to be in, but isn’t helping anyone or yourself grow, but its a solid state to sit in during turmoil or disaster and indeed a needed stage to grow through as a living creature. But one needs to work toward independence or something beyond (transcendent state(a state unknowabke by any state before it, but which can understand all the previous states,and perhaps more), most people are stuck in this co-dependent stage because its safe secure and beneficial (until it is not) it is a state most will shift to during disaster depending on their own abilities and access as well as based on their own intrinsic/innate levels of altrusim or considerateness(either/or or combinations of both if they empower each other in the individual).
And thats just the problems with the first few points, there is a large lack of critical thinking in the remainder, and I am sure it will get more critique from those with more energy to spare, if they are able and willing.
But basically the jist is: this becoming minimalist article is a dangerous/damaging trap, and isn’t really talking about minmalism or how to become minimalist :/
Hopefully others are reading this with a grain of salt and using highly judicious reasoning to examine each point carefully with maximized consideration for all the posibilities so they don’t fall prey or it will stunt their growth terribly, possibly worse.
This article is interesting, but Gods word is even sharper. For this article fails to praise God for your life and everything you have been given.
Compare these three passages. 1. of God bringing Israel into the land he had promised them and his warnings to them 2. Jesus words from one of the gospels as he teaches on money and contentment without worry
3. Pauls teaching via Gods spirit on money and faith
1. Deuteronomy 8:10-18 NIV
 When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.  Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day.  Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down,  and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied,  then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.  He led you through the vast and dreadful wilderness, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock.  He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never known, to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you.  You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.”  But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.
2. Matthew 6:19-34 NIV
 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.  But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!  “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.  “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life ?  “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
3. 1 Timothy 6:6-10 NIV
 But godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.  But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.  Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
Just want to feel secure.
Robert Lyon says
“…once our basic needs have been met…”
I agree with everything you have said here and I too have yet to fully realize these things in practice. I have made strides and Joshua has really helped me put things into perspective.
I think on of the biggest drawbacks of trying to become rich with money is that we will sacrifice the basic needs of others to to get there.
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Henry Rodrigues says
Being rich is not always important. If you are not living the moment then only having money is not sufficient. “Learn from yesterday, live today and hope for future” this is Dr P Mohamed Ali says http://bit.ly/1Dkqy0n who is among the richest man in the middle-east but believes in keeping it simple http://bit.ly/1Kci1Ez
We should follow the example of a one year old when they are given a birthday present, they are more interested in the pretty paper or the box it came in than the present itself. This is how we are born, understanding the real meaning of life. But society brainwashes us into thinking we have to be a certain way.
Aroob sohail says
Satu Jaatinen says
I believe (now) that there is a balance that feels right for everyone differently potentially also differently at different times. If you perceive being poor as something you detest or if it makes you physically ill, you may strive for more material riches, for example. And when you get it, you may or may not detest / love spending so much of your time possessing. Since i suppose (now) that there there isn’t necessarily a way to swing the pendulum quicker, it may well be be that our experiences / needs / teachings / beliefs drive us, until they do not. That is then when one is ready to make a change….and I so thank you for the article. Made me test myself where I stand now. Could i live with less? Certainly. Would it make me happier? Maybe. Am i willing to try now? No although i have started making arrangements to enable this. What stops me? Enjoying the present enough not to change it. Will i be readier tomorrow? Maybe. Thanks for contributing to my awareness in this way.
Tonight I had dinner with woman who I freelance for. I was shocked to find that she makes over 40,000 in a month, at 27 years old. I am around her age, and barely make that in a year. My rent is constantly late, credit cards overdue, and my 80 hour work weeks seems fruitless.
However, when this woman told me her purpose of asking me out to dinner, I was quite surprised. I figured she wanted to talk shop. After a glass of wine and a deep breath she told me that she was looking for advice. She revealed to me that the past few years she had worked so hard at ammasing wealth, she had neglected initimatacy all together. She now felt disconnected from the outside world, and nervous to begin dating agaun.Then she asked me if I, the coupon-cutting, plastic spoon washer was happy?
I told her the truth. ” Yes, I am always happy. I feel healthy, my friends and family are wonderful, and I do my best every day.” She seemed puzzled at the confidence with witch I spoke.
She continued to pepper me with questions over escargot, frogs legs, and far too much wine for a Tuesday night. She asked about my love life, habits, beliefs, and dreams. I learned about her as well. Her dream when she moved to the U.S. fro. China was to afford her favorite $400 shoes in every color. ” Now I have them all!” She replied with a smile. I asked her if those shoes made her happier. “No.” She said firmly with resolve.
This is not a cautionary tale. I think working hard to better oneself financially is necessary. True poverty causes hardships that can spill over to family, friends, and government. However, it is imperative to put health, family, friends, and happiness first. My friend tonight has money hand over fist, but in her quest for wealth lost her relatability, health, love life, and therefore her confidence. I may be poor, but my carefree spirit is priceless.
Great post. I can personally testify to several of the pitfalls of seeking after riches. There aren’t many passages that I can say I absolutely know experientially. The following is one.
“Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.”
Another excellent and truly inspiring post Josh!! Following quote comes to my mind in this context as well:
“The price we have to pay for money is sometimes liberty.”
– Robert Louis Stevenson
Totally spot on, money may fill your pockets (or your house or your garage), but not be fulfilling at all…
Thanks for the inspiration!
Steven Blake mba says
Thank you for another insightful post. Thanks to you I more easily embrace my love of getting rid of “things”. Your current topic relates well to Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, which in brief for those not familiar is that it is difficult to aspire to the next level until we are fulfilling all the needs of the level we are on. Most western societies no longer struggle to fulfill all of basic life needs and often try to purchase a way in to the intangible things above. They cannot of course buy things like Love, Esteem, and Self Actualisation. To me becoming minimalist is understanding the true nature of what brings long lasting contentment and happiness. Thank you for illuminating the path. Steven
sometimes the world is not always for you. we are living not really for ourselves but for other people. when we have understood this concept, we will stop being interested if we are being less ambitious or less competitive. the “me ” concept becomes small because we have bigger vision and bigger purpose. this is what Christianity is all about just as how He sacrificed Himself, so that others may live.
I hope I’m able to shed some light.
I think we should seek first to be truly rich in our ownselves thru our faith in God and love for other people. In that way our happiness is not centered thru material things but thru hope, faith and love. Once we have achieved this, even we are given material richness it would be put into good use because our true nature is good.
If we are good in nature, we will seek riches not for ourselves but more to give back to those in need. This is because we would find contentment in giving and helping people those in need.
I live in a third world country, my dream on becoming rich is rooted on the fact the I see a lot of kids in the street without any food to eat or even a good place to rest. Slum areas with families having a lot of children but no food to be place on the table.
I love to be minimalist because this could allow me to be content only with the basic things i needed, and give more to others. I love to be rich so I could promote business that could provide a sustainable livelihood for these people.
I want to give back 10% on to the church, 30% for myself and 70% to others. this is still a work in progress.
You see we could embrace minimalism so we could provide richness to others.
Weak. Sounds like you gave up.
My name is Vish and I love and enjoy reading your blogs. But I have a different opinion on the “Dependent” part. You see dependency comes on need basis, once the need is gone so does the person. But if you are independent and still have a good trusting and respectful relationship with someone, that brings more content, joy and freedom.
I would like to hear your feedback, on what basis did you write that one.
Thanks and keep writing…
In the stillness of the snow yesterday, I blogged about this very thing.
Ken The Over-Thinker says
Hi Joshua – love your posts. My favourite one is “We’re all trading our lives for something – trade up.” I’m still personally struggling with the notion of wanting to be victorious and the notion of living a free minimalist life apart from that, but your blog is helping.
I would ask though that you also write a post clarifying the precise DANGERS of pursuing riches.
While I agree with Miss Growing Green on the need for financial independence (as opposed to exorbitant riches and crushing poverty), I also would have to disagree with Mathias – my position would be that while money is similar to a magnifying glass, since nearly every person struggles with generous and selfish impulses the majority of people are liable to change for the worse when rich – not because they’re bad people but that money makes giving in to foolish temptation (which we all do have, even the saints) much more easier.
If a wonderful person stays wonderful after inheriting riches, it just means that they still retain a large measure of self-control – admirable of course, but not every person who is good on the outside has fully accomplished that (you can never really fully know the thoughts and traumas and longings that people struggle with inside from their birth – Mathias’ hypothetical friendly, giving and poor person could still be in danger of being corrupted with riches, although we’d hope she wouldn’t have any problems. Simply asking “what would the motive be?” only reveals our lack of knowledge, not the non-existence of a motive).
I know myself well enough that if I got rich, while I am usually nice to people I could easily turn bad if there was enough money to let me do so. As my mother replied to my childhood question as to why some seemingly nice rich and famous people do drugs – “Because they can.”
Sorry for the long entry, but in closing I’d like Joshua to elaborate more on the dangers of pursuing riches (people like me tend to shut ourselves off from the “contentment, humility, integrity” talk as a case of “anybody can talk that talk”, but a list of reasons as to why pursuing and holding riches can actually HURT you most of the time might be more helpful).
Oh, and well said Eva. I personally struggle with lack of ambition, but I would think that if one is to be ambitious at work, be ambitious for Joshua’s notion of significance, with financial success as a pleasant bonus along the way (I’m on the hunt for a way to achieve financial independence through doing something highly significant in the process. I know it’s possible – I’ve recently read the works of Rabbi Harold Kushner, whose touching books have also become bestsellers – I would personally recommend “When all you’ve ever wanted isn’t enough” as a guide to living a significant life).
I really just don’t get why people can not catch on that money and stuff DOES NOT bring happiness. They strive for more, but don’t thrive. I have my own story to tell. One of my adult best friends, unfortunately, lost her father in a car accident. She has loads of money now and has steadily grown more and more unhappy and well quite nasty. She often lashes out at me, since I refuse to enter the rat race of our culture. My husband makes enough for us to have a nice home, food and clothing. I don’t need to be in the pursuit of money, stress, rushing everywhere, etc. to have Jimmy Choo shoes, granite countertops, expensive vacations and brand new vehicles. I prefer to spend my time with my children, helping with my husbands business, volunteering (giving back to the community), pursuing my own hobbies and regular physical activities and a bit a couponing :) . I have truly “enough”. Don’t people catch on that the wealthy, the famous, the powerful often lead decrepit lives, with drug over doses, and excesses of all kinds.
Especially, especially, in North American we have very few true needs (unmet) and many, many wants. This is not a matter of ambition, nor goals. But a condition of the heart and mind.
I do not agree with “selflessness”! Selflessness in our society will result in being taken advantage of. It is just beautiful in speech and just in a perfect society.
I disagree with this. Maybe some people will take advantage, but others will take what they need and maybe give more when they can. Case in point: the many people last night in Marietta, GA who went out in their 4WD vehicles to rescue strangers from their stranded vehicles, and the many others who welcomed stranded strangers into their houses overnight when they had to leave their cars.
A selfless act is the height of beauty. I have been the recipient of them, and I have been the giver of them. It isn’t just talk.
This has been extremely interesting – both the post and the replies. Lots of very important points brought up and debated (kindly, I might add, and I appreciate that). I think Joshua’s points are a very good place to start. But so much is not set in stone, nor predictable, nor can it be generalized (as Joshua pointed out). My experience: Most of my growing up years were in a middle-class family – my father worked hard to make ends meet and have some “extra” for small vacations, etc. My mom raised four children and did not work for pay outside the home. We were very, very happy. My father’s situation changed when he one day made a sale that changed his financial situation exponentially. We four kids didn’t know about it. Life didn’t change (not enough to really notice, anyway). When we understood as young adults (20s and early 30s) that my parents were very wealthy, we all asked why they didn’t buy a bigger house, move to a “better” neighborhood, do this and that with their money, etc. My father’s response: Having more money should not change you. It’s nice, but if you have character, live justly, share your resources, have compassion – all the important things – then the money shouldn’t make a difference except perhaps that you are able to share more, make a bigger difference, and yes, live more easily (but not necessarily with more stuff). That really made me think. I look at Fred Rogers, who lived a simple life and stayed in the same modest home after he made lots of money with his Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood TV program, books, etc. And he was happy. Warren Buffet lives in a modest, simple home because that’s all he wants in a home. He has nothing to prove by buying a larger, more prestigious home. My husband and I have been married 31 years and raised 4 children. I do not work outside the home for pay. We have done our best to live this same way of life, and we are very happy. Everyone we know would be shocked at how much money we have because we live a very simple life. We went through a period of accumulating stuff about 10-15 years ago and found it very unsatisfying when it was over, but it was a good lesson. I pass along many of Joshua’s posts to our grown children. I will say this, however: As much as I am trying to clear out and simplify my life and my home, we have some beautiful and memorable family heirlooms passed down through the generations. I realize these are just things, and if I had to give them up I would, and if they burned in a fire I wouldn’t go to pieces. They bring fond memories to both my husband and me, and our children have loved the stories that go along with them about their ancestors. It’s STUFF – I get that – but there’s no reason to get rid of them just to prove I’m trying to be a minimalist. And I must include here that Joshua Becker NEVER says that it is necessary to give up everything to be part of the minimalist movement. We all minimize differently and that’s the beauty of it. None of this STUFF is more important to me than God, family, friends, and helping others (with money AND my time). I keep it all in perspective and try my best to live right. Sometimes I think the word Minimalist can be confusing. If I talk about it, people think I’m going to sell everything I have and move into one of those tiny houses – NOT A CHANCE!! Or, they think I’m not doing it “right” because I still have things in my house. To me, it means getting rid of whatever is getting in my way of living a meaningful life in the way I understand meaningful. I was with someone the other day who talked about what it means to him to be rich: R.I.C.H. – Respect, Integrity, Compassion, Humility. Seems to me to be a good way to be rich. I’m on the minimalism bandwagon, but having money and possessions doesn’t throw me off the wagon!
Emmanuel, I am unsure if I understood your question correctly. As I see it, material wealth is not the problem. The person with the material wealth is the problem (or the solution).
I would also like to comment on Joshua´s comment. He wrote “While money is morally-neutral and not evil in and of itself, it does have a long track-record of changing people”. I agree that money is neutral, it´s a human creation. It becomes what we make of it. But still, Joshua, do you mean that a friendly, giving and poor person who becomes materially wealthy suddenly has the potential of becoming a horrible, non-giving, evil person? I can´t see how that could even happen. Why would that nice, friendly and giving human being suddenly become the opposite? What is his/her motive? Wouldn´t that character trait have been shown far in advance?
As I see it, if you are a giving human being while being poor then why would you suddenly become less so when becoming materially wealthy?
Look at Oprah Winfrey, she is known to be a very giving human being and she is materially wealth by anyones measure. Why is it that she is not stingy with her money? Obviously she hasn´t changed to the worse. Is there anything in her younger years that somehow points to her being the opposite of what she is now? Or has she been consistent? And if she has been consistent over the years, is she some sort of an anomaly?
I am not trying to make you look bad, Joshua, I am just asking. I am confused. If money changes people to something worse, then Oprah would not be a giving human being. No? Logic would say that if rich people equals greedy, then obviously Oprah has to be greedy, which she does not seem to be. According to me, logic in this case is not a constant, it is a variable. The variable being: the person possessing the money/material wealth. Each person, though, does seem to depend on a certain constant. That constant being “character trait”. Each person can change his or her character trait as long as it is not biologically inherit in the person (i e mental disorder etc). Does money change that character trait or not? Well, that is the question. How would that happen. Yes, you can get used to having the comfort that material wealth brings with it. At the same time, does that comfort change a human being to the better or the worse? And if so, how do you prove it? Some people seem to be comfortable giving at the same time.
I may be wrong, you (Joshua) may be wrong as well. Until we can prove, without a shadow of doubt, that money does change a human being or not, the question is open for debate. If I am proven wrong I will surrender my own current view on the subject. I am not debating to be right, I am debating to know what is really true or not. In order to do that we need to bring down the number of variables (right now, the variables are too many) to a minimum until we only have one constant (one empirical proof).
Joshua, I do like your blog. I do like the concept of minimalism. I look forward to reading more from you.
hello! first of all I apologize for not being able to write these lines in your language (I read your website with the google translator) I agree with your article, not much to Mathias because usually when you have a billion dollars you have the capasidad to understand the need for which has not and that makes it impossible to help.
Mathias if you have a billion dollars and has what it takes to enterder to those without .. and help.
are you really rich .. congratulations.
also want compartirun story I read in Mark 12:41-44
And he sat down with the treasury chests in view and began observing how the crowd was dropping money into the treasury chests, and many rich people were dropping in many coins. Now a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins of very little value. So he called his disciples to him and said to them: “Truly I say to you that this poor widow put in more than all the others who put money into the treasury chests. For they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her want, put in everything she had, all she had to live on.
I hope you understand me and forgive my typos.
congratulations on your website.
David J. Singer says
Wealth is a great amount of anything — a wealth of friendships, love, and happiness, along with many of the other things you listed, are what I strive for.
Thanks for a great post.
While I agree on some aspects, and before I disagree on some, I would like to say that it all depends on how you define “rich”. Starting from what amount of money in you bank would you define somebody as “rich”? You say that once our basic needs are covered money doesn’t contribute to our overall happiness, but at what point are they covered? What amount of money would be the “right” amount of money?
Now to the disagreeing part:
I think if money doesn’t make you happy, then you are spending it wrong. And money can buy you freedom. If I hadn’t saved some money, I wouldn’t have been able to quit my job (freedom no 1) and travel the world (freedom no 2). But then again, maybe I am not “rich” according to your definition?
Interesting post. I agree most with Miss Growing Green & Mathias. This has hit home especially for me this past year on several fronts. Please keep in mind I prefer simple and minimal as far as “stuff” is concerned. I recently was laid-off from a part-time job I had for 6 years. I’m currently doing “temp” work but with full-time hours. I didn’t realize until now how much of a difference the extra money makes. It has been a tremendous stress relief. Also I wonder if people take into consideration what happens if something catasrophic happens. It sure helps if you have enough money. We have had to deal with it on both sides of the family. My mother-in-law (age 92) had a sudden fall, ended up hospitalized, developed an aggressive infection as a result and then died, within a span of 3 months. My father (age 93, with alzheimers) was diagnosed with atrial fibulation and had to be sent to a nursing home. We are now discussing hospice care as his health is rapidly declining. This has all been going on this year. I can’t even begin to imagine the additional stress if there was not enough money for their care.
Mr. Everyday Dollar says
Content [with the material things we have], is the one I think most people struggle with.
People confide in me that their finances are a mess: they are in debt, and they feel helpless and anxious. When we take an objective look at their financial situation, we usually uncover a home and life cluttered and bulging from unnecessary “stuff”.
In many societies, there is an underlying consumerism woven into the very fabric of life and it’s ingrained from a young age. The difficult choice is deciding to consume less and to be grateful with what you have. It’s certainly not a switch you can throw, but a path to aspire to.
Hi Joshua, I appreciate your blog and perspective and also find beauty and joy in simplicity. But living simply after having had more financial resources has grown tiresome. At first (for many years) it was a breath of fresh air to realize that I didn’t need material things to be happy, but now it has become a constant reminder of what I don’t have, trips I can’t take, etc.
I’d like to believe that if I continue to focus on being content, grateful, compassionate, etc. then my life will shift. Sometimes I lose the faith. Thanks, Brad
Correction: emotionally detached, not attached.
I don´t agree with your analysis of the rich vs the poor. You can be a rich or poor human being with all these bad or good traits. It has nothing to do with how much money you accumulate or not. Some rich people are greedy, bad connectors etc.
The same can be applied to some poor people as well. As I see it, if you can accumulate wealth and/or material wealth in general and then be emotionally attached to losing that wealth and start over, then you are OK. It is how we look at money, material wealth, human beings, relations etc that is the issue. It has to do with the human soul, nothing else.
You can be giving, loving and all those things and still be richer than any other human being on earth. Material wealth and empathy are not, necessarily, separate things. It has to do with the humans possessing it. There is a saying that goes something like this “money only acts as a magnifying glass”. Meaning, if you are a greedy human being while being poor, money will only magnifiy that behaviour in relation to how much money you accumulate. The same goes with all other vices and virtues. You become more of who you already are. That means poor people have to possess the same vices and virtues that rich people possess. Remember, we are all human beings.
It´s the psychology that is the problem when it comes to money. Money is not the root of all evil. Money does not have a soul. Money recieves a purpose based on who possesses it or who is looking for it. So change your attitude first and the material wealth will be a better proposition for all than not having it at all.
NOTE: who can give more Money to Charity and change more lives? The rich person with a billion dollars or a poor person (although nice and kind) with 100 dollars in his pocket? Your chance of helping more people increases with your bank account. Like it or not, but it seems like a fair assumption. With more money you can employ more people. You can assist more people at a grander scale.
joshua becker says
Thanks for the comment Mathias. My last paragraph was written specifically to address your concern. As I mentioned, “I would never contend that those without wealth are better simply by the nature of that qualification. And I am not contending that those with riches cannot also be content, generous, humble, or connected.”
I do disagree to a certain extent with “money only reveals who you are” thinking. While money is morally-neutral and not evil in and of itself, it does have a long track-record of changing people… and some of the research in the above article implies.
But just to be clear, this is not a post that contends wealth is evil. The article was written to simply call people to rethink their desire to be rich as a forgone conclusion in their lives.
Thank you for your reply to Joshua. They are very interesting. I like your attitude of searching for the Truth, I am the same.
I don’t agree with you about “who can give more money to Charity and change more lives? The rich person with a billion dollars or a poor person (although nice and kind) with 100 dollars in his pocket? Your chance of helping more people increases with your bank account. Like it or not, but it seems like a fair assumption. With more money you can employ more people. You can assist more people at a grander scale.”
Jesus Christ and his Disciples are good examples. Jesus did not have a lot of money, but his life set an example which help millions of people, his words changed millions of people. From generation to generation. He helped more people than anyone who is wealthier. So you can not say you can help more people with more money, because the important things that our world need is not what money can buy.
I believe God’s kingdom is: everyone work hard with their talent to contribute to the society and to serve one another, but everyone only takes what they needs, leave the rest for others to share.
But how to achieve this goal? Is it through wealthy people’s donation? Definitely not!
The only way to achieve this goal, I believe, is to live like this. work hard to contribute and serve, but only takes what you need. Set yourself as a good example for others, change people’s mind, so that we all have this same believe and goal. Your good example will be able to change more people than your money. From generation to generation.
I worked in an orphanage in China as a vice-director for 1 year in 2014. I tried to bring in more donations from churches and friends. Then I used the money to buy new desks, chairs, hot water systems, sport equipment, musical instrument etc for the orphanage. I have been too busy doing things, bookkeeping, writing children’s reports, translating letters between American sponsors and the orphans in China, teaching singing and piano, supervising cleaning duties, dealing with bullying and stealing, running library, snack shop, computer room, evening study session and bible study group, ……
I thought I would be able to help the orphans and they would love me. But I was wrong, very wrong.
I found that I am only a worker in their eyes, they don’t see me as a role model, they don’t want to be like me, to serve others without asking pay. They only want me because they need something.
The same goes with donations from wealthy people. It can make peoples rely on you and not treasure the materialistic things you help them. They will learn to take it for granted.
I don’t want this result. I want them to believe what I believe, to work hard and contribute and serve, only takes what you need. To achieve that I should have more one-on-one personal talk with them, caring for their emotional and spiritual needs, instead of focusing on their physical needs.
To read the bible and teach them is easy, but to live out the word of God and be a good role model for them is difficult. Very difficult, you need to give up yourself.
I should not use my salary to buy food for myself which is better than what the orphanage provides, instead, I should use my salary to buy food and share with everyone, to teach them sharing and giving, teach them how to “Love your neighbor as yourself”. And I should be happy and content with what the orphanage provides.
Just this one commandment “Love your neighbor as yourself” is already too hard for me to do.
Therefore, I don’t believe more money can help more people, I believe your personal example can help more people than your money.
Actually it is wealth which creates poverty. Prior to the advent of modern economics, as long as people had accsess to natural resources, poverty was an unknown condition. Take for instance the tribal peoples of Africa, or the American Indians, whom although they did from time to time experience resource shortages, prior to the arrival of the Europeans, they had no concept of the state of poverty. It is a fact that many of the native Americans would simply migrate to areas with more abundant natural resources when faced with shortages of those resources in a given area. It is also a fact that the inter-tribal conflicts, of the native Americans, which usually were centered around territorial hunting grounds were no where near as bloody or long lasting as that of the European religious/ economic conflicts. Today around the world, millions of people though they are surrounded by plentiful resources, and though they work hard day in and day out, they still live in poverty, thanks to a system which creates poverty for many, so that a few can enjoy great wealth.
I agree with you Joshua. No matter how much I fluff that mattress made out of hundred dollar bills it still gives me a pain in my back every morning.
Great post Joshua! The one I find most compelling is the compassionate trait, and I couldn’t agree with you more. I have certainly recognized this trait with a few wealthy people I know, almost as if they are disconnected from those in a different socioeconomic background. Kinda sad actually!
I was at a dinner last night and I was talking with a friend about this. He agreed when I said I don’t need to be rich, make a million dollars, or need several luxury cars. What’s good is there if you’re not really content? Money helps, but only to a certain extent before you get used to your wealth and go back to your “base” happiness level.
Are you familiar with Stoicism’s hedonic adaptation?
Karen @ Journey towards simplicity says
Thanks for another great post. It takes a lot of work and dedication not to glorify “busy”. I work with the homeless, mentally ill and poverty stricken in my city- and am confident in saying none of them ever intended to lead that sort of “minimalist” lifestyle. Most of the folks I see living off the grid are there by circumstance- not by choice. In fact, many think that having all the stuff “normal” people possess will make them happy. The “journey within” and the work that needs to be done there is often the most challenging task in life. Finding what matters most – one often realizes it has nothing to do with acquiring material things- but is more about connection, community, and contribution.
Whit B Nimble says
This is my favorite post that I’ve ever read from you. It is one that I’ll go back to multiple times because I struggle with the balance of wanting more/being content with enough.
Eva’s comment above has my head spinning, as I’ve never even considered that someone might consider me a slacker because I want to live with less. I’m going to go read “Why We Work”, and think about this a bit longer.
laura m. says
Whit B. I agree! Eva: I consider slackers, some who I’m acquainted with near me, as lazy, no ambition, and unmotivated to clean house and declutter. They are retired or work part time; their place is a mess, one lady had to have an exterminator for mice that hide in clutter. TV watching, playing computer games is their sole interest. Ms Glowing Green: I agree with you, free time is more important than stuff, financial independence, living off investments, makes it possible to pursue other goals. Minamalism/ a clean house builds self esteem.
Kay B says
To answer your question Eva- Yes there are some people living the minimalistic life-style motivated by a lack of ambition and competitiveness. Motivated solely by it.
In the quest to live with less, I have to ask myself what is truly important to me. As I am not a competitive person, I don’t desire a competitive career. A big house, nice car, nuclear family, these aren’t things that concern me. While some might say I have a chronic lack of ambition, I would argue that the things I deem important are simply different . I live for my free time, so I chose a career field that allows me to work little and make enough. While I could easily shell out money for a nice bike or computer component, I’m hesitant to spend more than $2,000 on a car, or much money on nice clothes. Minimalism can be embraced by those in any walk of life. Playing computer games or indulging in a lazy weekend does not a slacker make.
Great Post…I don’t particularly agree with the point on dependence…I believe that INDEPENDENCE, rather, will lead to one having a great sense of inner peace. Yes, it is good to ask for help if you need it, but ultimately, one should aim for independence…
joshua becker says
I think each person should provide for themselves and their family whenever capable. But the reality of life is that nobody is completely independent in and of themselves. And the sooner we recognize that we need others (rather than thinking we can eliminate that need), the sooner we become more willing to rely upon them.
Maybe it’s more interdependence…
Sometimes I wonder if some people living the minimalistic life tend to be motivated by a lack of ambition and competitiveness. I started to think that way after asking myself why I instantly was so attracted to reading about minimalistic and simple lifestyle after reading some blogs on the subject.
Since childhood I haven’t had any kind of ambitions or passions in life except for reading and learning and the only competition I ever willingly participated in was studying to get the best grades in school. People said at my graduation ” You will achieve much in your life”. I knew that was not true, at least not in the sense achievement supposed to look like in our western culture. I didn’t see myself in a high status and well paid job, big house and the other “necessary” things. Now at almost 40 I haven’t worked much, I earn the amount of money which is considered to little to even pay for necessities.
This minimalistic lifestyle fits the, in other’s eyes, under-achieving, lazy people, also those with low self-esteem. You can hide and mask yourself and get the identity “The minimalist”. Peter Shallard (.com/blog) writes also a little about this non-ambition among some so-called minimalists. I don’t fully agree wtih him, he goes to far, but at least he points at an issue seldom talked about in this context. Not all minimalists comes from a life full of stuff in the beginning.
joshua becker says
As you well know Eva, it is impossible to completely generalize any significant portion of the population. No doubt, there are some minimalists who embrace the lifestyle because of their lack of ambition. However, I think they are a minority in the movement, although it would be difficult to not assume they are certainly drawn to the principles.
For my own personal opinion, I’d direct you towards this post: Why We Work. It addresses the misplaced ambition of those who seek to work less.
Dear Joshua, I come from a country where there is a lot of poverty which at the same time is completely driven by consumerism. I have this impression – which could be wrong – that in my society that people who have less, or are struggling to maintain a certain standard, are less generous because they are fighting for things they don’t have. I usually find it easier to find generosity and charity in people who have had everything. I have the feeling that it’s easier for people who have or had it all to be a minimalist, because they are giving up something they’ve already experienced and which has not brought them fulfillment, whereas people who believe they don’t have enough cannot give things up as easily. Just a thought.
If you look at tax returns, you will find that in fact those who have less are often those who give the most (proportionally to their income). Obviously if you can’t meet your most basic needs, it may be harder to be generous, but study after study confirms that those who have less are often those who give the most. Money sometimes begets the love of money, meaning that the rich love money and are less willing to part with it. These are of course over-generalizations; individuals are all different.
laura m. says
I came from a middle class upbringing, struggled in my 20’s and 30’s like many young couples trying to pay bills and take vacation time. Now retired, I downsized because I don’t need to keep stuff I don’t use or too manyduplicates, some inherited. Selling, donating makes sense for retirees, passing down items, making the house easier to clean with less clutter. Seems back decades ago, most were minimalists as people didn’t have stuff everywhere. Only the wealthier households had stuff like boats, campers, wall units full of nik naks, books, stereo, TV, etc. I’m encouraging retirees to downsize, so more time for activities, free time to get out and enjoy walking, biking, tennis, etc. I go thru and unclutter several times a year. Just finished the kitchen cook wear this week, will take to a group home. I
Miss Growing Green says
Interesting perspective. Personally, I do not fit into the “minimalist that lacks ambition” category, and neither does my husband. We are both extremely competitive in our lives (both in recreational and career aspects). We have both been highly driven from a young age, and we also don’t fit into Joshua’s “people who don’t care about being rich” category.
I have always wanted to “be rich” so that I could have my money work for me. Instead of being tied to a 9-5 job working for someone else, I now have the freedom to do something meaningful with my time, and I more easily achieve the list of “things better to be than rich” now that I have that freedom.
I would agree with Joshua’s general assessment of the pursuit of riches, but I also think that if done with purpose and intent, the pursuit of money can lead to unmatched freedom, generosity, and fulfillment. When you achieve financial independence (by amassing enough money to live off your investments), I believe you have beat both the exorbitantly rich lifestyle, and the “minimalist” that only works enough to scrape by.
joshua becker says
Thanks for the comment Miss Growing Green. To my original point, you are a great example of the wide appeal of minimalism. I’d confess as well to be far more competitive than I should be.
Thanks also for your thoughts on the pursuit of riches. I’m glad you were able to find a point of disagreement in my writing. After all, if everyone agrees with everything being written, no one is growing and moving forward. That being said, I think unmatched freedom, generosity, and fulfillment is available to each person regardless of the financial situation and/or measure of wealth. However, the pursuit of wealth, by its very nature, precludes freedom as we are bound to its pursuit.
I actually sent an email to Joshua similar to this. Maybe it’s good to express myself here as well.
I grew up with “full of stuff in the beginning.” Eventually having a lot of things became overwhelming, and in turn I had to make a quick note of what is really important in my life. Suddenly, I get comments that I lack “ambition and competitiveness.” As if being a good journalist isn’t ambitious enough. As if wanting to write well isn’t good enough. As if wanting to have a mobile literacy program isn’t ambitious enough. I think it’s because all my passions aren’t high-income generating. But I’m happy.
I’m tired of having to defend myself about my moderate adversity to promos, sales, and what-have-yous. I just need the basics: food, shelter, time to sleep, read, write and be with my loved ones. I love spending my money on people I love–I treat them out from time to time. I feel more fulfillment in spending for others rather than myself 95% of the time. Mind you I don’t make that much… and almost 50% of my paycheck goes to the bills.
That’s how the minimalist lifestyle works with me. It makes me feel great despite the backlash I get about not being too ambitious. Money and material wealth is not the end-all goal. There is no goal for me, there is only life and happiness–two things I want to share with others.
Good Point, Myta!
Gavin West says
I’m currently beating myself up about not having invested in real estate more, instead of worrying about buying a country property to try to help my mum which hadn’t increased in value or worrying about how to help my son who has ADHD with schooling etc, and regreting it as now having to work more to achieve financial freedom to be able to do something more meaningful in life than work in bank and help rich people become richer. Every time I see what wealth they have I regrete having not put into place what I know for myself financially. How can I get over this feeling of failure and embrace this way of living. I feel like I’ve failed myself, wife and son, both who don’t hold it against me,but I feel deserve better.I worry about not having enough in future and how my son will be able to get on and buy a house to live in and not have to worry to much about having to work in a soleless job himself.
When I starts working at Salesian University, 18 years ago, I asked a Priest, who happened to be my boss too, that I was afraid I may not have ambitions. I have been told after returning from USA with a LSU degree that I could get a better paid job, other than the university.
The priest told me that unfortunately, ambitious is usually related to big incomes, so he asked, if i didnt pursue a big income, what was my ambition. With no doubt, i answer “a peaceful life”, and he repply, then you do have ambitions, that is your ambition.
After 18 years working in the same university, I have realized that I have reached my main ambition, a peaceful life, a job where I am been treated right, a good salary, a good offices hours. I realized that “a peaceful life” keeps being my main ambition.
Thank you Ana, your answer was truly healing!
I am also very surprised that my earlier comment gave so many answers. I don not at all avoid work, but i do avoid noise and beeing overly busy. I like to be peaceful at all times.
You said it! A peaceful life can be an ambition and very few pursue that. I worked in advertising for 18 years. Stress was part of life. Long working hours made it even worse. On top of it, since you are part of an organisation you also have to ‘handle’ other people’s egos. And all that really messes up with you. Yes you get a handsome salary but in the end it all seems worthless. In my 18 years of career I changed 11 jobs, thinking that I will be happy in the new organisation. But eventually I decided to call it quits and pursue peaceful life. It’s been 6 years I am freelancing and life was never better. Though I make less money than I would have made had I stuck to my corporate job.
Angela Flanagan says
Minimalism allows you the flexibility to pursue the type of life you want. You are not a slave to your possessions and you have more time to consider your next steps without being overwhelmed by stuff. And it is just that, stuff. I have had the experience of cleaning my mothers apartment after her passing and was both surprised how much fit into her 800 square feet as well as thankful she had the foresight to downsize well before she passed from her house. I have in laws who continue to bring in “stuff” to their home at a late age and I feel sorry for my husband when he will have to clear it out and distribute it among his family. It will be stressful. When we moved from our family home to an apartment we asked our adult children what they wanted from our belongings. Our daughter wanted one doll and our son wanted his aquarium. I had a lot of toys and baby items to sell at garage sales. I found the objects sold at rock bottom prices went to people who could then again appreciate them instead of being stored in our basement not being used. We also sold one car and only have one vehicle. We have overall reduced our footprint on the environment and that too makes us happy. Minimalism allows us to not judge ourselves against others but measures us against our own life goals and desires. Good luck with your journey.
There are a number of reasons why somebody may choose to adopt a minimalist life style, whether they are financially rich or poor.
A good argument for the minimalism is the concept of relative deprivation.
Relative deprivation occurs when people compare their position/ possessions with others and feel a sense of dissatisfaction when others have something of more value than them e.g. they have a Swatch watch and their friend buys a Rolex. This happens with all material possessions and creates a ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ effect. You can have millions of pounds and still feel dissatisfied because you can’t afford a private jet, and so strive towards that, because you’re ‘poor’ compared to those who can afford to buy one. Once you’ve covered the necessities in life, there’s not much difference between wanting the latest phone and wanting a private jet. It’s all just a case of comparing yourself to others and feeling that you are entitled the same possessions as them. This isn’t about ambition or financial status (people on low income are just as vulnerable to this as those on the highest income), it’s about an attitude.
In short, I believe that it is better to learn to live and be perfectly content with the minimal possessions, than constantly be striving for more no matter how much money you have. And that is why I embrace minimalism!
Self-rating and other-rating is how people develop inferiority and superiority feelings, not just of specific resources we possess, but of the whole person. It is one of the most unhealthy acts you can commit against yourself and others. Painful emotional disturbances result from rating persons rather than behaviour. p.37 Overcoming the Rating Game by Paul Hauck https://www.amazon.com/Overcoming-Rating-Game-Self-Love–Beyond-Self-Esteem/dp/0664253105/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1465770728&sr=1-1&keywords=overcoming+the+rating+game?
Jenn Lussier says
I can see where you are coming from, as it would initially ease the guilt of being unmotivated in some. That being said, being unmotivated may be symptom of an imbalance or depression in ones life… one that releasing guilt may actually help alleviate.
For me personally, this means less time shopping and pre-shopping (flyers, websites). It means less time working, less time watching cable…finding out what Jane bought so I should know what I should want..
This time is then opened up to find the richness in my child’s laugh, the anticipating look in his eyes as he waits to see how i will respond to something silly or inspired that he has said… It means time to play on the monkey bars with him (yes, I still do that) or bake cookies, or sing or enjoy the warmth of my partner’s arms, when we get to sleep in Sunday mornings, to contemplate my own thoughts….
Just thought I would add my 2 cents as to what this lifestyle means to me :)
Wishing you much happiness and love,
Nicole Dennis says
I wish I could attain the same measure of happiness you have in life Jenn, what is your secret? Were you happy from childhood onwards? I have always suffered with depression, my earliest memory being in grade 2. Thanks for a great post! Nik
Marinelle Brewster says
Thank you so much for allowing God to use you. I’m going through a physical and spiritual overhaul right now. Your Facebook page has just come at the perfect time in my life. I’ve been purging for weeks now. It’s taking some time but I was able to bring a few things at church last night to share with people. These things are beautiful but I don’t need. I’ve never felt more alive and hopeful. I’ve been weighed down by life and my possessions and I want to be free. I want to fully live out God’s purposes for my life and remove the noise and distractions.
Thank you for having the most encouraging page on fb.
My ambition is to spend more time with my loved ones. To accomplish this, I must work fewer hours. To work fewer hours means a smaller paycheck. To live on a smaller paycheck, I must buy, use and consume less. Hence, my motivation for minimalism.
Tarique Sani says
Eva, It is an unfortunate fact that most people need a lot of money to realise that money is overrated.
If we are not free to be non competitive and motivated more by the pursuit of leisure or I should say, leisure time, then indeed we are not free. We as Americans claim to live in the land of the free, even as we boast of an economic system that rewards those whom surrender the most freedom, while passively, but yet surely, punishing those whom attempt to live freely. Freedom, if it must be earned, is at best conditional privalidge; even slaves were sometimes allowed to purchase their freedom from their masters.
To compete with others for the things needed to sustain ourselves, is to surrender both ourselves and our freedom. If you must strive to live up to or preform according to the standards set by someone else, in order to be succsesfull, and even in order to escape poverty, then you are in no way free. Cooperation and sharing, are the cornerstones of both freedom and of peace.
It has been said by some, that the American dream has become the American nightmare. The sad truth is, that we are living a nightmare when even our dreams must be in conformance to some preditermind standard !
Tracy Mhluzana says
Hi eva, I used to have ambitions in my career and aquiring certain necessaties. I had my house, cars, kids in private schools etc etc. In 2014 I left my job and have since made it my ambition to live a peaceful, less complicated life. I spend so much more time with my kids and husband, my kids are in public schools and are top of there classes. I suffered from Idiopathic Intercrainal Hypertention, had 7ops and was living on meds. I have now even removed the shunt and have not used even a painkiller in these 2years. I run a soup kitchen, I give hope to those in hospital who have been diagnosed with life changing illnesses. I grow my own veg and it is my ambition and passion to live a self sustaining life free from even needing municipal services such as electric supply. By the end of 2017 I want to reach a point where I don’t buy any food and maybe I’ll even reach a point where I don’t need technology(still a though 1 lol). I may be spiritually motivated but I believe that we are not meant to live these useless busy lifes we live. So I’m of the opinion that any1 who goes against the grain n tries to live a minimilistic life is no lazy or lacking passion, ambition, given up on life etc but actually the opposit applies.