“Something deep in the human heart breaks at the thought of a life of mediocrity.” —C.S. Lewis
At the time, I was just looking for a little relief. I was weary of living paycheck-to-paycheck. I was weary of spending so much money on myself knowing there were others that needed it more. And I was weary of the time and energy being wasted on cleaning, organizing, repairing, and maintaining our home.
Our decision to intentionally live with fewer possessions was motivated by discontent. But regardless of our motivation, shortly after the decision was made, we found countless life benefits: freedom, productivity, rest, and a whole bunch more.
Though not expected, we also discovered intentionality in some very valuable places.
We found intentionality in our values and passions. Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it. And while this looks different for each person, it always requires its pursuer to further define his/her passions—and discover intentionality because of it.
We found intentionality in our finances. Owning less did not provide us with more money (except for the items we sold), but it did provide us with more opportunity for our money. Once we became attracted to living with less and the hold of consumerism on our checkbook was broken, our money could be used for more valuable purposes than the clearance rack at the local department store. New opportunities to help others became available—and new decisions were forced because of it.
We found intentionality in our health. Six months after discovering minimalism, I was faced with a pending birthday. After spending so many months removing the clutter from our home and life, the last thing I wanted to receive was anything that could become clutter. Brainstorming nonphysical gift ideas, I took notice of a new fitness gym that had just opened down the street from my house. And for the very first time, I had the space, the motivation, and the finances to get in shape and place priority on my physical body.
We found intentionality in our diet. Interestingly enough, the last thing you want to put in your body after working-out is junky, processed food. As a result, we started making healthier food choices: more fruit, more vegetables, less sugar. I began to form new friendships with other simple living advocates—many of whom modeled intentional diets. Over the years, we have experimented with many of their ideas. Each time, we discover new foods to eat and increased understanding about the food we put in our bodies.
We found intentionality in our spirituality. Minimalism offered the opportunity to slow down. It also provided the motivation. As I began to realize how much of my thinking had been hijacked by advertisements and a consumer-driven society, I was drawn to the practice of meditation and solitude. I was drawn to find new voices for guidance. Being raised in a religious home, I was also drawn to find the voice of a higher power—one who knew far more and could reorient my life around greater, more eternal pursuits. This voice is still and small. And it requires each of us to slow down long enough to listen.
We found intentionality in our relationships. Owning less opened the door for new relationships in our lives. We were able to become more involved with our neighbors and our community. We were more willing to have people in our home as preparing for their arrival became easier. We spent less time shopping and cleaning and organizing and began to spend more time with the people who made life enjoyable. Our capacity for and appreciation of relationships began (and continues) to grow.
We found intentionality in work. The longer we lived with fewer possessions, the more our view of money began to change. It became less important. Our essential needs are met and we have enough left over to practice generosity—what else is needed? As our view of money shifted, so did our motivation for work. Work became less about the weekly financial deposit and more about the value and contribution we could provide to peoples’ lives. It opened the door even wider for honesty, cooperation, people, passion, and joy at work.
We found intentionality in our heart pursuits. Living with less opened the opportunity for contentment, gratitude, and generosity to take root in our heart. It forced us to redefine happiness. Happiness was no longer for sale at the department store. Instead, we discovered it was a decision available to us all along. And once we stopped looking in the wrong places, we were able to find happiness in the right places.
Minimalism was entered into because of discontent in our lives. But among its greatest gifts, it brought us intentionality. And we couldn’t be more thankful.
If you only get one life to live, you might as well make it the best one possible. (tweet that)