Note: This is a guest post from Brian Gardner.
“Sometimes you need to sit lonely on the floor in a quiet room in order to hear your own voice and not let it drown in the noise of others.” —Charlotte Eriksson
We live in a world where busyness is king. We’re so busy glorifying how busy we are, we miss out on experiencing the moments that matter. And while we’re so busy making a living, we forget to make life—which is quite tragic.
Here’s a sobering truth: Busyness crushes our soul, and we should focus more on reducing the number of things on our calendar than adding to it.
The key to removing busyness is simple—live intentionally, and identify areas in our life we can replace with quiet time. After all, the white space is where the magic happens. And who isn’t down for a little magic?
How Comparison is the Thief of Joy
“Envy is ever joined with the comparing of a man’s self; and where there is no comparison, no envy.” —Sir Francis Bacon
When we compare ourselves to others, we set ourselves up to add “more” into our life. More money, more cars, more houses, and more stuff. We fall victim to the old adage of “keeping up with the Joneses” which prevents us from living the life we really want to live.
The problem is that we typically compare our “worst” to their “best”, which really paints a bleak picture.
As Joshua Becker writes, “Too many people live their lives without intentionality or thought. They rarely find a quiet moment to sit in meditation or solitude and examine their life—who they are and who they are becoming.”
We should stop stop comparing our lives, and start living them.
The Importance of a Quiet Life
“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” —Anne Lamott
I’m convicted of this… All. The. Time.
Many of us, including me, suffer from FOMO—the fear of missing out. We’re simply afraid if we don’t attend that event, don’t sign up for that committee, or don’t enroll our kids in that sport, we’ll miss out on something.
We think there is happiness to be had, joy to be experienced, and moments to be made. Yes, there might be some truth to this, but who’s to say the moments of solitude or quiet time won’t measure up—or even exceed those altogether?
I love what Katrina Kenison shares in her essay, Why You Must Have Time Alone:
In solitude, we see more clearly. Alone—in moments of prayer or meditation, or simply in stillness—we breathe more deeply, see more fully, hear more keenly. We notice more, and in the process, we return to what is sacred.
Do yourself a favor and reclaim margin in your life. It might make a world of difference and bring you happiness. Because you are worthy of it.
Why Minimalism is the Answer
“I am pursing minimalism. I know this to be true. I want less, and I want simplicity, and I want to spend my days connecting and caring, not consuming and completing.” —Erin Loechner
I don’t know about you, but that sounds appealing to me. Isn’t this the kind of life you want to live? It’s definitely the kind of life I want to live.
Minimalism doesn’t have to be about living in a tiny house with only a few shirts in your closet. Minimalism is about paring down and focusing on the things that are important—or as Marie Kondo says, the ones that bring us joy.
Here’s how Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus define minimalism, “Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from overwhelm. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from depression. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom.“
I believe we all want to incorporate some level of minimalism into our life, and experience the freedom that Joshua and Ryan talk about. And it’s important for us to know there isn’t a “right” or “wrong” way to do it.
Annie Dillard says, “How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.”
It starts with the decision to live more intentionally, and to make quiet time a priority. Each day is just as important as the next in creating the life we imagine.
Experience the Quiet Life
Here’s the bottom line: It is not selfish to want time for yourself.
There is a reason Simplify Magazine takes a deep-dive into the topic of Self-Care.
It is not selfish to want moments where you can leave the world behind, and recapture the magic. I encourage you today to find one—just one—area in your life that you can make a change. Take one small step towards a quiet life.
So turn it off. Put it down. Do not open it. And do not answer it.
For once, put yourself first. Love yourself, and make yourself a priority. Even for just one day, you deserve everything. Every part of the life you are after.
I recently came across the term JOMO – Joy of Missing Out. That is exactly where I am with many things. I do miss how things used to be before Covid, spending time with close friend often. But the silliness with acquaintances becomes too much. Too many “keeping up with the Jones” people out there. I’d much rather be having a quiet evening at home with my husband and pups. Even more so since losing both of my parents last year, fairly unexpectedly. I crave peace, and quiet time with my tight circle.
I recently came across the term JOMO – Joy of Missing Out. That is exactly where I am with many things. I do miss how things used to be before Covid, spending time with close friend often. But the silliness with acquaintances becomes too much. Too many “keeping up with the Jones people out there”. I’d much rather behaving a quiet evening at home with my husband and pups. Even more so since losing both of my parents last year, fairly unexpectedly. I crave peace, and quiet time with my tight circle.
very true. thanks for posting
A good article, though I was thrown by this sentence, “I’m convicted of this… All. The. Time.” Did you mean, ‘convinced’? I don’t think you mean convicted. Very different meanings. ?
joshua becker says
“Convicted” also means: “to be impressed with a sense of guilt.” That is the context of the word I meant to use here :)
I l❤️Ve your article. Very well said.
Isabeau Landry says
I had the worst case of FOMO rooted in early childhood trauma from being farmed out after my parents divorce. This triggered rejection and absndonment issues which took a lifetime to heal. Living out of a suitcase with one doll and having to fold my blankets every morning not knowing where I would sleep the next night did a number on me. It triggered a lifetime of being a high achiever, living as a human going instead oh human being, I always wanted more. After 2 burnouts (the last one being THE wakeup call) one learns….Now, back at work, requesting a demotion, purging stuff and opening up to more meaningfull relationships and experiences. Rediscovery my truth, my passions and most of all self care. It’s the simple things that make my heart sing… who knew! Ha ha ha
Sir I am also become minimalist now after following you. Whenever you visit India please meet me.
It’s amazing how many mind changing ideas can come from one inspiring message. Thanks !
Valerie Rogers says
Our spirit knows this, if we take the time to listen. Humans aren’t designed for the fast pace of living with the resultant noise, endless choices and distractions. We’ve also reached “peak stuff” ownership. Both these factors are a foundation of stress, and stress is bedrock to all disease.
Thank you! I’m so at peace at times,that I need just my thoughts and memories to reflect on life
yes, this is so true Valerie
I love this. One thing I did to overcome FOMO, was to go into my social media and unfollow almost every person and page, so when I get on my social media, there isn’t much to see but ads and a select few pages.
I gave myself all of November to not commit to anything. I made plans for one outing besides our normal family activities, which involve dance and music.
Minimalism is definitely more than just getting rid of things in our environment.
And getting rid of what brings on FOMO gives you more time to get rid of the environmental clutter!
I know I have way too many clothes.
As a retired ggma, who basically, just goes to church, grocery shopping , out to eat sometimes and occasional shows , I can’t decide on how many and what kind of clothes to keep.
Is there any kind of guideline to shoot for.
If you don’t reach for the article of clothing within the approximate 6 month season of use (if it applies to your climate) donate it. If it was a gift from someone who thought you would like it (and were wrong), same deal. If it has a manufacturer tag and is clearly new and unused, there are lots of consignment stores that would love it. Lots of other suggestions but this will initiate a purge.
laura ann says
Bonni: I got rid of 4 jackets, several pants, tops because they weren’t worn last colder season, this is a good guidline to purge clothes end of summer(summer items) and early spring (winter items.) if they aren’t worn that season.
I usually put those items I’m not sure to keep or toss in a box. At the end of the season, if I totally forgot the items in the box, that means that I no longer need them or love them, and I can let them go. The main struggle for me is to think that I spent money for those unused items, and this makes hard to give them away, but it teaches to me to be wiser before taking out the credit card!
I love this post. I love reading about minimalism and one day I hope to actually be a minimalist. I’ve been trying for a few years now and have gotten rid of a lot of things, mostly clothes and a few pieces of furniture. I’ve had a setback recently and I’m sitting in my office right now looking at the mess surrounding me and thinking that I really need to clean it up, but I’d rather be drinking a warm cup of cappuccino and just relaxing.
One of the things which I found useful was to clear on the go. Also one small thing a day is as useful to clear off, give off, do off since our can get overwhelming all at once. Also if you buy something, you have to do away with something also helps much.
Kaps, perhaps reverse the order of replacement. Let it go, THEN decide if you really NEED to replace it…or simply finding you WANT to replace it out of habit!
That too makes sense. But what I was intending to say was that everytime we buy something, we can always think about throwing off something else which is cluttering up anyway or we have procrastinated on for long.
But yes letting it go is more relevant from the point of slowly learning to survive on the optimum needed stuff for anyone to thrive & still being able to maintain important things like hygiene, standard of life etc.. Thank you :)
Monica Smith says
Your title just made my day! I enjoy solitude, simplicity and even silence and want more of it in my life. Living unhurried intentionally with what brings me joy is a priceless gift. Thank you for this!
Chip Patterson says
I am intrigued by the minimalist mindset and lifestyle. The intentionality of life and the peace that is derived seems eloquent and full. I find myself questioning the “why” of life and desiring to embrace the “why not” of minimalism. Thank you for these articles and testimonies of those who have ventured this path.
Not aware, I was collecting more and more recipes…until I realized I would not be preparing them because they had too many ingredients or took too much time. I decided to “downsize” my collection of cookbooks and jotted down recipes from the internet. Freedom at last!
I got rid of all my cook books some years ago as part of trying to live a minimalist life. I now only have a folder on my laptop with recipes I have either created, found on the internet and adjusted to healthier ingredients, inherited from my mother, etc. in other words only recipes I really use and enjoy- all written up in very simple steps and which I share with our children. Now I can enjoy sometimes to add a new well tried recipe. Cook books stress me out and are not needed.
I’ve come to a similar conclusion. I started to file downloaded paper copies of recipes and ordered them in folders. Then I pulled myself up – how many do I actually use often? Nearly all went into the recycling bin. I’ll take your lead and file new ones electronically! Easy to find, or delete.
I have had enough of “socializing”. 11 years ago I moved to acreage in Wyoming to be alone…..someone builds a house too close to ours..ugh! And now the new owners have called the sheriffs on my dog barking…ugh! (my dog is not out all day, nor everyday)…. Why can’t I just be alone?
The whole idea is to control what can be. Not what is outside our scope. The fact is that with all the details of life & engagements & clutter, it becomes all the more difficult if things outside your control are also thrust upon you. So it makes sense to rid ourselves of things in control to be ready to face things outside our control. Also the value of a persons life is not in the abundance of his possessions. Its whats inside of him :)
Nan Hall says
I’m not sure I know what “margin” in my life means. But if I substitute the word “magic” for it, it definitely has meaning and can inform how I live.
Estela Stuart says
lo que dice és muy bonito y poético…pero la soledad también duele.
también yo me encanto con mis pequeñas cosas:los gorrione,mis plantas y aunque hable con ellos y con mi perro …ellos no me contestan! no tengo ningun ser humano !