I find it difficult to admit most of my life was wasted chasing the wrong things. Looking back, it has become increasingly clear how I spent the first 33 years of my life chasing temporal, material possessions. I thought my life would improve as I acquired them.
It was supposed to be the “American Dream.” But I was all wrong.
While my household possessions were not extravagant, they accumulated over years—especially as we moved into larger and larger homes. Each move would result in more rooms to furnish and more empty closets and storage areas to keep our stuff. Fashions changed and thus, we bought new clothes. New technology emerged and we purchased new gadgets. Kids entered our family and with them came toys, gifts, hand-me-downs, and purchases “necessary” to raise them correctly.
Eventually, our possessions began subtly to control our lives. We spent countless hours cleaning, sorting, organizing, repairing, replacing, removing, and maintaining our physical possessions—not to mention all the time we spent on the front end earning the money just to make the initial purchase in the first place.
Our pursuit of material possessions was controlling our checkbook, draining our energy, and robbing us of true, lasting joy.
But then, everything changed.
When I was 33 years old, we began giving away all the possessions in our lives that were not absolutely essential to our purpose and goals. Eventually, our family removed over 60% of our earthly possessions. And we couldn’t be happier. We found more time, money, and energy to pursue the things in life most valuable to us: faith, family, and friends. We discovered far greater fulfillment in life pursuing our passions than we had ever discovered pursuing possessions.
And now, my only regret is that we didn’t pursue simple living sooner—that we wasted so much time, so many years, and so many resources. If I could do life over again, I would have embraced a minimalist life earlier: my teens, my twenties, or as a newly-formed family. As a result, from the very beginning, we would have experienced:
- Less debt.
- Less clutter.
- Less financial obligation and debt.
- More savings.
- More intentionality.
- More presence with others in my life.
- Less need to get ahead at others’ expense.
- More passion.
- More contentment.
The life-giving invitation to minimalism holds benefit for every generation. It is never too late to start no matter what stage of life you are introduced to it. But my life would attest to the fact that today is the best day to begin living with less. And the earlier in life, the better.
M v says
I will make use of your ideas. Thank you.
Lei Ann says
Christime, my best friend just gave me a chunk of his notebooks that he gathered and had for them no room in his new renovated office. I think he used to get them in bulk at Costco and added in for his business because of his needs to slowly enter his notes by categories into a charting and excel format at work. He needed my help and I offered to take all of his colorful and sized notebooks to my new place and do it for him at my leisure time. In a steady way, it was a pleasure to go back to Marie Kondo approach of keeping track of what you can put in a bin for each of the colorful or in size item eg. IKEA is a good place where I could have found some etzy and nice furniture for him, and when it is not, then ebay is my favorite place to hang out to find potentially recently used or on sales. It costs me no less than a few pounds to be very satisfied with the use of the new space for what he seems to hold on for all his life. And I can see where he is coming from as I am myself a retired writer and editor in the communication industry for over a decade before I moved on to a new field that is less technology involved and is more in direct care that I am just so thankful that I can do this ,…in my retired years…
Christine Goodwin says
I lived in ‘bedsit’ land until my very late 20s and everything I owned didn’t take up much space at all. Then I met my husband who likes ‘shiny things’ and fast forward 30 odd years, 5 children,5 house moves later and we have ‘stuff’! We are debt free though – no mortgage, no owing anyone anything! Feels good. Last child at home but hope to make the downsize move in about 2 years when husband retires. Getting rid of things already. House always feels lighter when we let things go. I love books though. Any hints on how to downsize my 200 odd? :)