“Life is not a matter of chance… it is a matter of choice.” ― Ka
24 hours. Every day we get them. And every day we use them. Sometimes we use them wisely: creating, exercising, resting, cooking, eating. Other times, the hours are wasted: mindless Internet surfing, watching too much television, worrying, or oversleeping. But every single day, the hours are always used. This is the very nature of time. There is not “more” use of time, only “better.”
This is also the very nature of money. Our finances are always used somewhere. They may be directed towards the house payment, the grocery bill, the student loan, the savings account, or others, but our money is always spent somewhere. There is not “more” use of money, only “better.”
I have found the principle of “not more, but better” holds true for many of our most important resources: money, time, energy, focus, mental capacity, relationships. Understanding this truth and embracing it becomes an important principle in living a thoughtful and intentional life. Life is, after all, the sum of our choices. And often times, the choice isn’t more, but better.
Recognizing that positive change is not a matter of choosing more, but choosing better is a powerful motivator. There is freedom to be found in it. It can be a freeing and inspiring shift in our thinking. Consider these practical examples:
I used to think I didn’t have enough time to exercise. But when I made an intentional commitment to begin exercising regularly, the use of my time began to change. There were not extra hours in the day, only a change in how I used them. As a result, I began to spend less time watching television. Exercise was not a use of more time, it was a better use of my existing time.
Similarly with money, I used to think there was never enough. But as we began our journey towards minimalism, we soon discovered we had more money available than ever before. Not because we were making more, but because we were spending less at the shopping mall. Suddenly, we were able to redirect more finances towards saving, giving, and creating memorable experiences for our family. We did not spend more of our money, we spent it better.
As positive changes began taking place in my home and life, I felt drawn to eat better. As a result, I began learning how to cook and enjoy healthier foods and meals. Junk food was being replaced with fruits and vegetables and chicken and fish. I didn’t add food to my diet, I changed the food in my diet. Not more, better.
Often times, one of the greatest changes we can embrace in our lives is learning where to place our focus. When I began to intentionally choose to meditate on the positives in my life rather than the negatives, I opened my heart to gratitude, contentment, and joy. This was not a result of more focus, but better focus.
Whether we choose to spend our time with ourselves, positive influences, or negative influences, our relationships are always directed somewhere. These voices we allow into our lives impact us greatly. When I work to choose positive relationships that inspire me to contribute value to this world, it naturally changes who I spend my time with. Again, not more relationships, better relationships.
There are, of course, some elements of life that are not finite. Our capacity for love, hope, and joy will always grow as we discover more and more places to find them. But often times, this growth is not a result of choosing “more” for our lives, but choosing “better.”
Lani C. says
I agree. I always like and enjoy your post. Years ago I was in a situation when I longed for more. Well,I worked so hard but didn’t had the time to spend with my children/family. I spent life the wrong way coz I was chasing the world. Now as I’m getting older I realized what a time wasted. 3 years ago, I decided to get”better”with my time, focus, money, relationship, mental and physical health.by giving, I receive more. I become a lot better me.a minimalist. What a huge change, enjoying life everyday????. More power to you and God bless. Life is good!!!
“Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.”
I have two quotes on my mirror “Not more, better” and “” (Less not More). It’s a constant daily reminder which rings true to me. Thank you Joshua, I enjoy reading and re-reading your blog.
Thank you. A timely read for me.
JUST had food conversation with BF, he thought I spent too much on gelato….and we should go back to the cheaper brand of ice cream. HOWEVER, I enjoy a small portion, of a great quality gelato, than an entire bowlful of cheap ice cream (and its not THAT cheap) that I add whipped cream and chocolate sauce to. Same as the great whole coffee beans I buy. Fresh and better quality.
Too me, rather have a small amount of quality than large amount of subpar.
Me, here, now. says
I love the simple concept of not ‘more,’ but ‘better’. It makes absolute sense in a crazy world that makes little sense.
Carolyn Bostic says
Ever since I came across this blog, I’ve been doing more online reading just to see what all you delightful people say. And it helps as I can step away for awhile if I need to complete a task, returning on my own schedule.
Makes Sense says
I’ve been preparing to cut the cable this month as I end my 2 year contract. Already put in the stop order on that. That will be and extra $80 a month in my pocket.
I have a guilty pleasure of shoes, and I mean nice expensive shoes. Only bought a pair of workout shoes this year for $60.
Putting as much away as possible. I don’t want to be in this rat race forever. I’m focused more on “experiences” than “stuff.”
I agree with this concept, I’ve been slowly trying to embrace the idea of minimalist. It is hard sometimes, I recently sold our camper, because of the cost of upkeep, and lack of use of it! My wife didn’t see it the way I did, and jokingly said she was going to delete this web site from being able to read it! LOL
Now it seems that since I sold it, I’m constantly looking at the other campers for sale that are newer!
The urge to buy seems overwhelming at times, just because we can. I really like your statement about buying on borrowed money, and finding time to exercise.
I still need to work on the food, but I’ve also been working on the relationships!
I will continue to try to keep it all in focus.
You’ve been hitting me good, with your last few post. I need it! I’m at a point in my life that change is inevetable. I’ve been reading your post for the last few months, and know this is a great place to start.
Thank you for this post! I have been intending to live more intentionally for a while now, but continue to fail…I read this and it made it sound simple :) My first step wil be to re-read this every day for a week as a reminder. I feel that if I have this in front of me I will remember how to implement it…again, THANK YOU!
Jodelieh Blue says
Thank you once again for this post. Just three words: ‘Not More, Better’ helps me to get focussed on my work, but also on my task as a mother and Christian.
Keep on writing…
Particularly love the application of this idea to time. Thank you!
I love all your articles. However, as someone being stuck with student loan debt and healthcare bills I have more than a hard time to feel optimistic of “making choices” that help me to be minimalist. I feel that you cannot get ill if you don’t want to go broke. It is a terrible system we live in and there is no real change in sight imo. I dread getting old in this country and have thought of moving back to Europe when I get to this point. I think I won’t be able to get old if I were sick here. Even with the most minimalist lifestyle.
Anne Stockwell says
Minimalism is about making conscious choices. When you have to do without things you truly need, that’s not minimalism, that’s poverty. Poverty is not a virtue; it is a terrible thing. I am so sorry you are going through this and I hope your situation changes for the better very soon.
Michael Smith says
Beautiful website and great blog post! I’ve been reading your website for about an hour now and learned SO much. TY :)
make the change now…you will take flack for it, but stick with it and we will be happy we did in the end
I am 5 days in on my social sabbatical (unplugging from all the social media, social outtings with friends, texting, etc. and making time for me and family) and a part of my sabbatical has been engaging in morning rituals that help prep me for the day which includes 30 minutes with a cup of tea and reading my favorite blogs. Well, one of my blogs directed me to this blog and I cannot say how right on this post is as I enjoy this month of rest and evaluation of getting more from my 24 or as stated above, better not more. Thanks for sharing. it’s encouraging.
Karlla Friesen says
It would be kind of us all to teach the next generation,to respectfully enjoy the outdoors always, reflecting on all forms of life,seeing the beauty of waterfalls, and rainbows, not just experiencing them from books. Teaching them to be content with less material things. Less is more,in the material world! More peace of mind, more time to spend on relaxation, rather than choking payments for all kinds of things, that break down and need fixing!eg. houses, vehicles,
Rachel @ Intentionally Simple says
As we are making choices to live simply (and simplify even more), not more but better is naturally playing out.
We all have less clothing but it’s better quality (and will last longer!) We’re choosing better books for our young children as well as better toys. We’re spending more on our food but we’re buying better foods which is better for our bodies!
Joy @ Joyfully Green says
I totally agree with you and wrote about this when I first started my blog–“changing the focus” in the morning, so that my time wasn’t spent staring at incendiary headlines on a computer, but instead, eating a healthy breakfast outdoors on the porch, with a view to the forest and our backyard. It really changed my whole mood and energy for the day when I began spending my morning time more positively.
Great post, as usual. More is often not better at all, as you so eloquently point out. Thanks for the inspiration.
More is not always better….so true!
John Krygiel says
Great post to give perspective on things. I like the phrase, “There is no such thing as free time, there is only the time you are given.”
The Maui Taoist says
Better is more…..
the more you give the more you gain…
the better things are the more you use them, the longer they last…
more quality,,,, less stuff
Luzia Light says
Awesome post! A very profound truth!
Thanks for the inspiration.
I am going to print this on my toiletdoor: quality over quantity
I have red this blog for 6 month, and there has changed so much in my house, mind, live. It gives my family much peace.
Thank you, and please continue.
Terry Hadaway says
These are great thoughts and something from which we all can benefit. As I’ve incorporated minimalism into my writing, I’ve discovered I am more creative and efficient. I don’t have a lot of distractions to take my mind off of my work. I can focus on those writers I am coaching through the creative process. I have more time to be me because I have given up on trying to duplicate what others are doing.
Brooke McAlary says
Yes! This is something I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about recently. Better, not more. In almost every aspect of life. Can you imagine the world we could live in if we all adopted this mindset?
LaTonya Wilkins says
Good read. These points not only apply to personal aspirations but also to running a business. For example, having more customers is not always better than having a few good customers. Focus on quality relationships and the positive.
I couldn’t agree more with time! Exercise is the first thing we tend to cut out of our schedules. It is my brain food and adds many more hours back into my week. In fact, physical activity makes me more creative.
100% agree with your statement , having more customers in your business is not always better than having a few good customer.
less is more!
I addressed this concept in September 2012. In that post, I included a short poem by Peter Maurin that he wrote in 1949:
“The world would be better off
if people tried
to become better,
“And people would
if they stopped trying
to be better off.
“For when everyone tries
to become better off
nobody is better off.
“But when everyone tries
to become better
everyone is better off.
“Everybody would be rich
if nobody tried
to become richer.
“And nobody would be poor
if everybody tried
to be the poorest
“And everybody would be
what he ought to be
if everybody tried to be
what he wants
the other fellow to be.”
Brown Vagabonder says
Lovely poem! Thank you so much for sharing.
Sam Desai says
thanks for sharing this poem. The words make so much sense.
Brian Carr says
Great post! I agree with you on all of these points, especially with regards to food. Once I made the conscious decision to eat healthier, I felt like I had more energy to exercise, go do things with friends and family… basically get off my rear and away from the TV. Additionally, I felt my mood improve with got me away from the self-destructive thinking of more is better.
This is really the essence of minimalism and intentional living. It’s all about quality over quantity. It might start with possessions, but it spills over into every aspect of life. Better use of time–including better use of online time, not just less–better use of money, better relationships…It really flies in the face of the modern culture of “more.”
Every single day I find this more and more true! It’s not just possessions, but every part of our lives. And for me, I’ve often found it’s more about the emotional, the spiritual, and the relationships than the material things, although that’s very important as well. It’s all connected. I am forever grateful to the friend who showed me this website!
Funny this should come across my desk. We were just talking about this yesterday. I agree. Not more, but better.
Brown Vagabonder says
I find the concept of ‘not more, but better’ applies to exercise really well. I used to go to yoga 5-6 times a week, not giving my body time to rest or rejuvenate. I kept on getting sick, and this caused me to push myself even more. Now, I go to yoga 2-3 times a week, but I am more mindful when I go. I take care to keep my body in balance, I do not push myself harder than I need to and I go as deep as I can in each pose. I have found this has helped me make the experience richer and better for my body. Thank you for the post.
I have had the same experience with exercise. I love to walk, I love to run. I know that exercise is good for me, but I have often made the mistake of not understanding my limits. I have, at times, run several miles several days in a row because at the time it feels so good. But then I couldn’t seem to understand why I was getting run down or sick. I mistakenly thought more exercise would give me more energy and keep me from getting sick, so I would do more (and of course I know people who do run every day, so I thought I was doing the right thing). I, too, have finally learned what works for my body, and in my case, more is not the answer. Balance and understanding my limitations is the answer.
Brown Vagabonder says
That is the thing with us humans – we do not understand that we are not built from the same mould as everyone else. We all have flesh and blood, but we are different in so many ways. One way of exercising for one person is not the way for another. And this can apply to anything, like eating, shopping, sleeping, relationships, etc.
I still have a hard time realizing that fact. Thanks for your comment.
The Crunchy Mama says
Yes! Same for me. Mark Sisson’s (of The Primal Blueprint) exercise philosophy has been so good for me. http://www.marksdailyapple.com/action-item-4-exercise-primally-move-lift-and-sprint/#axzz2JNtxCJyV