On average, we see 5,000 advertisements every day calling us to buy more and more. And I want to be just one voice inviting us to buy less.
From the very beginning, Becoming Minimalist has had one goal: inspire others to live more by owning less. When I write, I write for those who have never been introduced to the minimalism lifestyle—those are the people I want to reach.
I write books and blog posts for those who are beginning their journey or have not begun…
…and also for those who are looking for encouragement and inspiration to follow through with their desire to own less.
I have discovered, after all these years, that owning less is countercultural, encouragement is essential, community is important, and there are significant truths about minimalism we need to be frequently reminded of. Even in my own life, I need to remind myself often of the core truths of minimalism.
Here are 5 Truths About Minimalism I Remind Myself Often:
1. Excess possessions are a burden and a distraction. Every thing we own requires time, money, energy, and focus to maintain. And every increased possessions adds increased anxiety on to our lives. This exchange would make sense if possessions made us happy. Unfortunately, they do not. Instead, they only distract us from the things that do.
Read more: 21 Life-Giving Benefits of Owning Less
2. Our society is built on excessive consumption. Our economy thrives on artificially manufactured needs and wants. As a result, we are constantly bombarded with messages claiming we are not as happy as we could be and the quickest remedy is to “buy their product.” Discontent is sown into our soul at every turn—and on every billboard. But their messaging is carefully crafted for their own selfish gain. And there is a wonderful joy available to those who reject it.
Read more: 10 Reasons to Escape Excessive Consumerism
3. My life is too valuable to waste chasing material possessions. We each get one life to live and we each get to determine what our life is going to be focused on. Some will use it to pursue money, fame, or power. Others will use it to passionately pursue bigger houses, nicer cars, and fuller closets. But not me. My one life is too valuable to waste chasing things that will never last. I will pursue love and hope, impact and significance. And I will seek to live a life that benefits others above all other things.
Read more: Life is Too Valuable to Waste Chasing Possessions
4. There is no right way to do minimalism. Minimalism is always going to look different from one person to another. And well it should—each of us have different passions and values and gifts that we can offer to the world. For example, a minimalist writer is always going to own different things than a minimalist farmer or a minimalist carpenter. And someone who desires to use their newfound freedom to travel the world is going to own something different than a minimalist who desires to use their freedom to host beautiful dinner parties. Find freedom in this reminder. And refrain from comparing your version of minimalism to anyone else’s.
Read more: Find a Rational Minimalism that Works For You
5. Minimalism is the pathway, not the goal. Owning the fewest number of things possible is not the greatest goal for your life or mine. Minimalism is not our greatest obsession. Minimalism is simply a means to an end. It removes physical distractions so our greatest priorities can be elevated. It allows our lives to be defined by things that matter. If minimalism has allowed you the opportunity to pursue those things in life you most desire, you have succeeded.
Read more: Live with Less. Pursue Your Passions. Finally.
Minimalism, as a way of life, holds benefit for all. Regardless of gender, religion, race, or socio-economic class, there are life-giving benefits to intentionally owning fewer possessions and removing the pursuit of empty consumerism. This is a message that must be proclaimed and shared often and widely. And for that reason, I will continue to do what I do: inspiring others to live more by owning less.
I will lend my voice to the movement and I hope you will too.
Ashley Baemel says
I see your posts daily on facebook. I am now a top fan. You are the only thing helping me keep footing in my chaotic house family of 5 with 3 animals too. I also homeschool and love how you reminded us that it looks different for everyone.
Because of your posts… I have gained motivation to declutter our home. We live in a tiny 2 bedroom (reminder family of 5) so minimalizing is a must. First my journey has started by decluttering what we already have. During spring break, the kids and i packed 11 boxes of items from all around the house (FINALLY GOT TO THE TOY ROOM) and donated 11 boxes full to someone who just lost everything in a house fire. It was the best feeling ever. So thank you for sharing daily.
Every day i look forward to your gentle reminders and new outlooks. Thank you from the buttom of my heart.
My next goal… Empty the attic.?
I am working everyday, a little at a time, to give, sell, donate things I don’t need and others would be able to use and enjoy.
Brigham Berthold says
My wife and I are newcomers to minimalism as a practice. As I am also a writer, your reminders inspired me, and I took great note of the mission statement you wife into this article.
Specific purpose is something my minimalist efforts lack. In general, I just want to be happier, but why? What will my perceived increase in happiness bring? My wife brought me to your article. Your words brought me to this question.
Please keep going. As the comments following this article illustrate, you are succeeding in your efforts.
It was your first book that introduced me to this concept of minimalism, I used to think it was only a decorating style. Now I understand and live a lifestyle of enjoying having less and being very mindful of what deserves my time and attention.
Thank you for everything that you do
Thank you for this great summary! I’m working toward minimalism, but as a homeschool family with three kids age 7 and younger I felt like I’d never achieve what others have, becase I need certain things to homeschool. Your reminder that it looks different for each household is just what I needed. I’ll start letting go of the guilt and accept the gifts having less can bring.
Keep posting these reminders! All true and necessary! Thank you
Thank you for this and all your blog posts. Through them you provide gentle reminders and support to so many of us on this journey, as you say, that is counter to the culture around us. The more I embrace minimalism, the richer my life gets.
You are a blessing.
Mary Ann says
I am just beginning my minimalism journey. My husband and I have been married 34 years and one day thought to myself, “I can’t breathe with all this stuff around us.” I am working everyday, a little at a time, to give, sell, donate things I don’t need and others would be able to use and enjoy. Thank you so much for your encouragement and support.
Ashleigh Memarzadeh says
YESSSSSS. My goodness, everything I feel you have managed to put into words. Minimalism is a continuous journey, not something you wake up to one day and say ‘Oh it’s finally done, I can check that off of the list’. And minimalism certainly isn’t for everyone, but I would definitely suggest that everyone should try it at least once. I have felt so much lighter since I began my minimalist journey. I’m not tied to things like I was before. I value what I have now more than ever, and better yet, I don’t want much. I read a quote somewhere that said ‘I make my life rich by making my wants few’. I don’t remember who said it but it has always stuck with me. Thanks so much for this post of encouragement Josh. It’s actually your story about how you found minimalism that propelled me into my own journey, and for that I am ever grateful. Hugs and love.
Dear Joshua, Thank you for this inspiring post. It is always difficult to part with stuff that took me time and money to accumulate even though those stuff no longer mattered. Reading your article is a good reminder to me many others have been able to declutter and de-own, experienced the pain of loss(of tossing those stuff) and still emerged fulfilled.
Great reminders, it is so important to remember your why. Love this: “Minimalism is not about owning the fewest number of things, … but a means to an end.” When our focus is on the number of things we own, that becomes our priority. It is easy to fall into that trap if we are not intentional and remembering our why.
I just want to say… I think you’re incredible. I’ve been on this path of minimalism for 5 years now and it’s affected every part of my life in such hugely positive ways. You have been my biggest influence… I read all your books and posts and I just want to thankyou for continually sharing yourself and your thoughts with us all.
I am just now realizing our journey on this earth is a pilgrimage!
Our ultimate destination is heavenly & our PURPOSE here on earth IS NOT related to our material comforts & posessions. Your book and articles have helped me realize this TRUTH.
I think the philosophy of minimalism has changed my life more than anything else and has deepened my Christian faith as well. Just this year we have unloaded, donated, and discarded vast amounts of stuff. This month alone we have given away a bookcase and called Habitat for Humanity to come get our china cabinet. Half of the contents of the cabinet were donated to Goodwill, and the other half was sorted and stored in more accessible places. Both my wife and I have cleaned out the closets and have gotten rid of about half of our clothes. It helped that after we started this process we both lost a significant amount of weight. (Closets are still too full) We are continuously questioning the value and wisdom of owning and keeping everything in our house as well as any purchases we are tempted to make. It’s surely easier to buy stuff than it is to get rid of it.
One quote that impacted me from this blog is Everything is in the process of becoming garbage-Jerry Seinfeld. Wow! That really puts into perspective my “precious” possessions.
I have read The More of Less three times- once on my own, once reading it out loud with my wife, and finally in audio book form on a long car trip.
“Thank you” doesn’t come close to expressing our appreciation to you, Joshua, for giving us the nudge we needed to really live our lives to the fullest.
I wrote this five years ago and it still is true. I would’ve thought that we “be there” by now, but we’re still working daily on minimizing. More than that, however, our focus has changed. Thanks for helping us see the value of fewer possessions and realize what’s really important.
BTW, adult children REALLY DON’T want our precious possessions! And I’ve found out I really don’t either!
I found your awesome blog few days ago. It has been very useful for me.
“Owning less is countercultural.”
Unfortunately it’s more and more usual all over the world…
Jeffrey Pillow says
Minimalism, for me, is an essential ingredient in managing my anxiety.
Anxiety is a heckler in the brain. Ever present, waiting to insert himself.
Minimalism has helped me remove not just physical distractions, but also mental distractions and mental clutter.
It has given me a more clear path in life.
I’ve always been an outside of the box thinker. I’ve always done little experiments with myself. Minimalism has helped me really see things differently even more so. It’s accelerated the process.
It is different for everyone, like you say. Minimalism isn’t the end goal. It’s a way forward to a more meaningful life whatever that means to each of us in our own way.
Thanks as always for sharing your words.
This is exactly why I started following this blog. I have an artsy personality, but all the stuff that I just kept buying or keeping only made me feel overwhelmed. And then life got difficult and I had no control over anything, so I started to have really bad anxiety attacks that complicated my life even more.
Getting a grip on the material things in my life helps me deal with my life in general and keeps me calmer.
Minimalism is one of the bricks that helps me built a happy and content life.
Janete Canteri says
“I never minded with the material things of life. Thank God I always thougth that the true freedom of wealth is not based in multiplicating goods but in reducing needs.” Zigmunt S. Felinski (1822_1895)
I have closely followed your newsletters and articles since about a year. Though far from being a minamalist (yet) I still feel the need to celebrate as my mindset about buying, shopping & owning has changed (and still is evolving). Formerly known as the ‘shopping queen’ amongst my friends, I get confused questioning looks when I don’t want to hit every new launch/ event/ show and constantly want to upgrade things that are still working perfectly well. That is quite bizarre especially when living in Singapore, a shoppers paradise.
One thing I wanted to share is about the negative energy produced by things simply lying around and how it literally drags us down. I have felt it so strongly in our study/ entertainment room which has shelves and racks of redundant things like Cd’s & vcds and bears proof of years of compulsive shopping indulgences for the latest gadget and ‘lifestyle’.
As I cleared (some) racks and gave away things to charity, I rediscovered the joy and peace of the room. :)
Angie Hall says
Love, love, love this post! I’m so grateful of the reminder that everyone’s minimalism may look different. That’s what I’m learning about myself and my husband. His take on living with less looks so different from mine, and that’s okay. Together, we’ve managed to refocus and place far less emphasis on consumerism in our lives, and we’re doing it coming from his side of the garage as well as mine. We’re meeting in the middle, finding a deeper purpose (via our Heavenly Father) and it’s absolutely all good!
I loved reading this list of truths. I think that I need to remind myself often of these as well. I am so thankful that I found your website, your book, The More of Less, and your Uncluttered course and group. You have changed my life for the better. I hope others will join us on this path. Thanks again for everything. Tonia
Very inspiring, positive and moving article.
Really love numbers 4 and 5. I got into this weird headspace where I tried to sell everything I own. And while I don’t miss almost all of it, I have realized now that it’s not about that. It’s about choosing those things that add value to us. It’s not the number of items, it’s their meaning to us. Thanks :)
Really fantastic post. It goes right to the heart of the subject yet hits on the important logical part. The part where people stumble over the idea that minimalism is a one size fits all situation when it is not. Everyone needs to find their own path and make it work for their life. Nice job.
I really like your 5 Truths I Remind Myself Often. It includes very well placed links to other articles so it all ties together well.
I’ve been looking for an article that introduces my loved ones to minimalism and this one is it, so I forwarded it with my own message that they please read it because it is important to me.
I am new to this way of life. I am 68 yo and a picture of the maxim that “It’s never too late.” This will be a long, slow journey but I am so thankful for your posts which give me inspiration and keep this endeavor “front & center.”
numer 3 is the best 4-5 are also superb!!
wish i could meet you in real life and have a commuinty of like-minded people too bad i don’t know many people who think like that! please keep inspire us all in this unique way and not as most other blogs (no rage just my opinon) showing how they decultter it’s not really interesting us, but you say it in your wonderful super interesting and useful way!!
Robert Larson says
One of your best and most impactful posts on me.
I am trying to live minimalistic and often feel I am not doing it right. While I have cut a lot of excess from my life, there are some things I have an excess of. And I do not want to pare them down. This made me feel a bit guilty. But reading this last post helps me to realize I do not need to be minimalist with everything I own. And it is okay to sometimes splurge (within reason)
I’ve been living simply for about 30 years, but continue to find places in my life to simplify. In this journey, I’ve had few companions. Really only one friend (who lives five hours away) with whom I can share my thoughts. So I’ve appreciated your blog and books so much! Wish I had a way to find others in my area who live simply.
The Green Swan says
Nice post, Joshua! It’s great to have these reminders. As a late-comer to the minimalism lifestyle and mindset, it is great to have this feeling of community and the inspiration you provide. I know I still own way to much stuff, but having this mindset will help me weed out what is necessary and help with future purchases as well.
Amy Munns says
I love all your writings, this one included. Well balanced and insightful.
I’m curious if you’d consider writing to and for kids. I get what you are saying and try to live my life this way, as well as encourage my kids to see this way as well. But it is hard. Maybe you can develop a line addressing kids under ten and then preteens and teens separatly. They are hit from so many angles,and they’re not mature enough to see through it all.
Just a thought.
Thank you!!!! Your support and vision are providing me with the path I wish to follow. I want a better clearer life rather than feeling the weight of possessions constantly. I am sooo grateful that you are there to help see my way through.
Kalie @ Pretend to Be Poor says
I think #5 is the most important point and the one that sometimes gets missed. I’m sure it’s always been your message and mission but as the practical aspects of minimalism get proclaimed far and wide, the purpose behind it can become forgotten. And really, the purpose is individual. People need to decide that for themselves.
Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind. Ec. 4:6
Thank you, this was beautiful. I have found so much peace through living this way, and I am definitely trying to do my bit to lend a voice to the movement.
Google Maps Street View says
Thanks for sharing.Is as a peacemaker. I find debating painful. I am not good at it. plain and simple. I admire those who can do it well.
5 more great guidelines to achieve a better life and very well explained. Thank you!
Loretta Ferguson says
This is the best articles I have read it gave me lots of inspiration I don’t need those bargins they just clutter up my house
MICHELLE TO says
Thumbs up brother!
Awesome job on this piece, I love the way you write.
Amen! I am only about two months into my journey, but I already have a greater sense of peace. I have a large family, and one of our boys was recently diagnosed with autism. Thankfully, I had already started simplifying at the beginning of 2016 (stuff and schedule), but all of a sudden, I was taking him to regular appointments four times a week. One day my anxiety was so high, I was feeling so depressed and hopeless. Then by chance, I heard about minimalism. It has been life changing. I am daily discarding the excess stuff, and we only say yes to things we really want to do. I shop differently, and I am much more able to be in the present moment with my family. Joshua, your writings have been hugely influential, and I thank you for that. I have requested More with Less on hold (there was a long line for that one) at the library, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.
Wow. This is very likely one of the best posts I’ve read by you. It is SO encouraging–each and every point. I am ever so slowly getting into this mindset. One small victory was yesterday, Sunday, when the dollar store chain was having its “customer appreciation” event where you’d save 10% (i.e., a whole dollar!) off 10 or more items. I had saved that flier for a week or more and been planning to visit the store that day, but then I thought, “I don’t really want to have to choose 10 items to bring home–just to save a whole buck!” And on a Sunday too. No, thank you. I resisted and changed what I’d been planning to do. A small victory toward minimalism…but I’ll take it! I hope to build upon it.
Good job Dana!
It is funny when we see there is a special or something is on sale. Suddenly something you didn’t really need becomes very appealing to buy.
I also have to stop myself from getting sucked in by advertising.
That’s really great! I know how hard it was (and still sometimes is)for me, not go buy stuff just because it was on ‘sale’ or cheaper if I bought more. And every step, big or small is another in the direction you want to go :)
Good job. I am so susceptible to getting sucked into this kind of thing! As I adopted a minimalist perspective on things, I found that my focus on bargain-hunting was actually frustrating my efforts to save money as well as live with less. I share my experience, and how I’ve made changes, here – https://moretimethanmoney.co.nz/2015/05/17/is-fomo-ruining-your-money-mojo/
Bravo, you save money and time and space not buying stuff they you can live without.
studies found 87% of the items at Dollar stores and similar stores are full of toxic plastics, toxic metals and toxic chemicals. Stop poisoning yourself and never shop there.
Please, buy from local people to support your local economy.
Barbara Certain says
I’m glad to know your philosophy is not just about empty rooms but all facets of our life, thank you for that.