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 subtlely 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 do it 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.