Note: This is a guest post by Rachelle Crawford of Abundant Life With Less.
I’ve got to level with you. This simple living thing isn’t always so simple.
What began as a quest for less unlocked a world of wonder.
In one course-altering, divine, yet unlikely encounter, I awakened to the realization that minimalism was the solution to my chaotic and overwhelming daily life.
I’ve never looked back. It is a moment I will forever be grateful for.
I intensely and ruthlessly purged our belongings, and it did not take long to feel the impact of living with less. It was the unfamiliar feeling of relief.
I could breathe again.
This newfound peace soon began to migrate into the way I was spending my time. I found myself clearing my schedule with the same intensity I did my belongings. I figured that was it.
Then, well, one thing leads to another. I should have known. It always does. Here I am, a year and a half later, and a completely different person both inside and out.
You see, this minimalism is a tricky thing. She waltzes in dressed as simplicity, and the next thing you know she’s unraveled your soul.
There’s nothing simple about that.
While minimalism is about your stuff, I’ve found it has very little to do with your stuff.
As I journeyed toward a life of less, I was surprised to discover a world of complexity along the way. This not so simple life kept challenging my assumptions about myself. It pressed me to transform areas of my life that, for so long, I let operate on autopilot.
This not so simple side of less just may stir up parts of you that you’ve long given up on. Here are a handful of mine.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve felt the pull toward adventure.
As I grew up, the love of adventure was replaced with a fear of losing it all. I preferred predictability to chance in order to maintain this tight grip on all that I cherished.
This simple life has awakened my once dormant passion to dare greatly, get uncomfortable and take an alternate route. It has inspired me to loosen my grip in order to take big leaps.
While you won’t find me on the latest episode of The Discovery Channel’s Naked and Afraid anytime soon, I’ve discovered little ways to uncover adventure in my daily life. Because in the words of Moana,
“The call isn’t out there at all, it’s inside me.”
“You either walk into your story and you own it, or you stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness.” – Brene Brown
I was hiding behind my clutter and busyness to avoid self-reflection for fear of what I’d find. If I kept myself busy enough, and my life packed full to the brim, I wouldn’t have time to be accountable for the state of my soul.
Well wouldn’t you know it, with less on my plate and more time on my hands, I had nothing left to do but dive inside. I wasn’t too pleased with what I found.
While once filled with curiosity, adventure, leadership and bravery I had grown into an unteachable, worry-prone, perfectionist, hiding from my skill set and attempting to prove my worth through the art of doing.
My worth was entwined in my ability to be perfect, and it left me lost in the “try hard” life.
Doing the hard work of diving inside allowed me to find the truth about who I am and the source of my worthiness. I’ve become delightful company.
“It’s a wild and wonderful thing to bump into someone and realize it’s you.” – Fil Anderson
I lost my desire to learn a long time ago. With my nursing degree came quite an educational hangover, which lingered for many years. From my faith to my parenting, I thought I had it all figured out. In turn, I became invested in eliminating variables and preventing change.
“Once you stop learning, you start dying.” – Albert Einstein
Becoming a minimalist was one of the biggest transitions I had yet to undertake. It led me to discover I could change and that a willingness to change is the first step toward growth.
I used to do hard things. I remember them well.
Somewhere along the way I became a worrier. I tried to pretend that my worry was actually responsible parenting or productive planning, but the long and short of it was, hard things terrified me.
Call it a need to control or self-preserve, but eventually worry turned into fear and fear became my go-to.
Nothing good grows from a place of fear, and this not so simple life helped me uncover my bravery again.
“Legacy is not leaving something for people, it’s leaving something in people.” – Peter Strople
This simple life has me looking at material possessions in a whole new light. I find myself valuing my time and resources not by what they can offer me, but how they can be used to bless others.
More than that, I want to be generous with my story in hopes of sharing exactly that, hope.
“Our story isn’t for us in the first place. It never was. It’s for others, and those others need you to own it and share it.” – Joy McMillan
Sure, simplifying will lead to less. Less to do, less to want, less to need. However, I found the place of less to be a decoy. If less is really all you’re after, then watch your step because the simple life is riddled with rabbit holes.
Don’t confuse simplicity with an easy life.
It’s simply where the adventure begins. It’s where we find purpose and in turn, the capacity to discover what makes us come alive.
Now that I know a bit more about myself I’ve been thinking, maybe the simple life was never what I was after anyway.
Rachelle Crawford blogs at Abundant Life With Less where she encourages others to ditch the excess in order to find freedom, joy and purpose in the everyday. For more inspiration, find her on Instagram.
Wendi Kuehn says
This article is what I have been trying to put in to words!
Joshua Becker, thank you for this article! I feel like the course has helped me so much but it is this stuff that I need more guidance/help with. I think it is up to me to figure it out. Glad I am not the only one.
Nikki T says
Beautifully written and spot on!! These words are the absolute truth and resonated deeply with me. After I quit my job, sold my house and began what is now going on a 4 year journey around the world, this is exactly what I have experienced. The inner journey was the most fascinating (and frustrating) part. Great writing Rachelle!
Bethany @ Happily Loco says
Oh wow, I could relate to so much of this! I, too, began my minimalist journey by just getting rid of stuff. Which then led to a journey of self-discovery during which I signed my house in Michigan over to the bank and moved my family across the country, to Houston, to live on a boat! Which has since become cluttered. My yoga teacher recently cautioned me, “If the external is chaotic, the internal can never be calm.” So here I am again, purging, decluttering, and simplifying. It is a lifelong journey!
Beautiful! You make me want more minimalism for greater life. Thank you Rachelle and Joshua for writing and sharing.
Been doing some MAJOR decluttering and it feels great! :)
Brooke @ HappySimpleMom says
Thank you for sharing your story. Living a simple life has indeed re-shaped how I live every day. Things did not necessarily get easier, but they sure become more enjoyable. The travel bug, the need to experience, the need to create, the need to succeed as my own self rather than at the hands of someone else. Living simple has changed me. I will forever be grateful.
This! This speaks to my soul! I’m so grateful to have read this today. It has renewed my desire to continue decluttering and looking at each “thing” objectively and decide if stays or goes. This also applies to my life in general. Thanks so much for this article Rachelle and Joshua!
Wow, I’m going to bookmark this article. So many points to ponder. I’ve been in the minimalism track since 2016. Uncover and discover! The journey really is inside.
Thank you Rachelle & Joshua.
This article totally inspired me. As a writer, I’ve felt the loss of a productive inner life as a result of my chaotic schedule and plethora of material possessions.
I shall become a minimalist!
Tony W says
It’s funny how the minimalist lifestyle can change the way people think. I am in New York City almost every day and I see people taking pictures constantly.
I now don’t take pictures of common attractions because I can see better pictures of the same thing on the internet. LOL
Interesting thought about seeing better pictures on the internet. I think I subconsciously realised this too as I’ve taken a lot fewer photos in the past few years and enjoy looking at other people’s instead.
Donna Helstrom says
Thank you for the your Facebook article, got it from my sister in law! I have been working on decluttering my life, home and thoughts for a while and creating an intentional life. When I get overwhelmed by what is still there, I check on how far I have come. Thank you for the email book…I need a booster shot.
Is it possible that trauma in childhood and loss of a spouse is significant and helps create the life you discovered you were living on your journey? Like fear, control, avoudance? Is it safe to think that as you dig through trying to reach the real tou, it takes time and people expect to come and force to rid of everything doing the physical work ahead of the internal? Which only sets one back? I’m learning from posts like yours the inner stuff and been No big along with the physical and to the outsider who really doesn’t even know me thinks I am not making progress. To them. It’s get in there and get it done. I’ve gotten ridden of truckloads, baskets, boxes, but they don’t know how my brain is slowly changing to think well, like you share. It’s been hard too because this has been during a life change of my husband passing, one child moved out and now far away, another child with grandkids keep me distracted…
I’m quoting the minimalists here, but they always say “It’s simple, it’s not easy”. I’ve been on a similar path of discovery and you’ve done a great job of laying it out.
One thing I would add, that blossoms from discovery is wanting more. Here, I don’t mean material things, but rather as you discover something, you want to dive deeply into it. Through minimalism, I discovered environmentalism, and once I reduced my use of items, I started looking at other areas in my life, which lead to starting a compost heap. Simple, though not easy when compared to not doing it. But totally worth it :)
I really like this quote.
“Well wouldn’t you know it, with less on my plate and more time on my hands, I had nothing left to do but dive inside. I wasn’t too pleased with what I found.”
I’m also reaching a place where I’m not happy with what I see in myself but I am excited to hopefully evolve and get to a me I like more.
Meridith Moore says
I began this journey in January: 68 year old female: I weighed 209, and lived in a 3 bedroom home alone. Today: July 2: down to 176, live in a studio, gave away most of my beautiful but unneccessary things to friends (no yard sale). After a while my mindset changed: I meditate, walk 5 miles minimum a day, eat protein, veg and fruit. No fried foods, no sugar products. Sold my car and bought a scooter! I am a much happier, positive person with a new goal: no television. And hope to be at 150 by September.
Way to go!
Excellent, Meridith. Keep up the great work.
Gloria Youchison Brown says
I like your changes,hurray for you!
I need to take a few lessons from you.
kim hainsworth says
good for you and congrats on your weight loss journey, you certainly have challenged the be more with less. keep going and be happy.
That is so awesome!
You are so inspiring. You should start a blog of your journey too.People would be interested.
wow, Meridith- you are inspiring! I am just a few years younger than you and live in a 4 bedroom home alone. In the process of moving to a 1 bedroom. Tonite I decided to look up the minimalist topic, since I am forced to do this downsizing. I hope to follow in your path!
Wow. Sounds great! You inspire me to make similar changes in my life as well! Blessings to you.?
Have less, toss what you can and along the way under all that clutter you find your true self. Your spirit is under there too.
Deborah Shoniker says
Wow talk about kindred spirits! Most of what has been said here , could be a mirror image of my life. We have moved several times in the past few years ,( the places didn’t suit ( husband’s disability or financially)and due to my husbands disability, family being a distance away…. moving mostly by moi. Time frame was always rushed and short so, alot came with us. Didn’t have time to perge much…Can’t stand stuff anymore. Been 2 yrs in this house and got rid of some junk metal today . Tomorrow or sat,going to do a dump run( donot do this often like to Recycle , Reuse etc.) And plant clippings etc are being composted at the dump.. Have a few started projects that WILL BE FINISHED BY NEXT SPRING. If I donot have time to fix it it will be gone! Thank you for motivating me. I really was getting depressed looking at it….