In May 2008, our family of four decided to become minimalist. And since then, we have been on a journey to define what that means.
We live in suburbia. We have two small children. We are active in our community. We love to entertain and show hospitality. While not exceptional, our life is not identical to anybody else. It is our life – nobody else’s. And if we were going to become minimalist, it would have to be a style of minimalism specific to us. It would require us to ask questions, to give-and-take, to identify what we most value and be humble enough to change course when necessary.
Eventually, we defined minimalism in four aspects:
1. We will remove all “clutter” from our lives. This process began with physical items as we moved from room to room selling, donating, and recycling everything that we no longer used. Our home began to give life and energy rather than draining it. As we began clearing physical clutter from our lives, we noticed opportunity to remove other non-physical clutter from our lives: emotional clutter, relational clutter, and spiritual clutter. Since then, we have worked hard to maintain a clutter-free life.
2. We will decorate in a minimalist style. Since becoming minimalist, we have removed numerous pieces of furniture and countless decorations from our walls and shelves. What remains is not just clean, sleek, and modern, but is meaningful. The decorations and paintings that remain are the pieces most dear to our souls and lives. And our house draws praise from many who enter and enjoy its simple beauty.
3. We will use our money for things more valuable than physical possessions. Madison Avenue has controlled our finances for too long. Since the day we were born, it has told us what needs to be bought, when it needs to be purchased, and what store we should visit to find the best value. When we chose freedom from material possessions, we broke the control that our consumer-driven, capitalistic society has over us. Suddenly, we have been freed to use our finances to pursue endeavors far greater than those offered at our local department store.
4. We will live a counter-cultural life that is attractive to others. We have met many minimalists over the past year that live a life that is far from attractive to us. They have sold all their possessions to live communally on a farm… no, thanks. They have listed all their possessions on a sheet of paper and determined to eliminate all but 100… no, thanks. Instead, we have determined to live out a rational minimalism that fits our lifestyle and invites others to simplify their lives as well.
The benefits of our decision are unmistakable: more freedom, more impact, more time, and less stress. Since our decision, we have encouraged tens of thousands of households around the world to simplify their life, remove clutter, and become minimalist. After all, if this typical family of four in the suburbs can live a minimalist lifestyle, so can you!