Two years ago, I got my life back.
I found minimalism.
As a result, my life has been energized, refreshed, vitalized… rejuvenated.
It’s been a crazy ride. What began as a simple, two-minute conversation with my neighbor has changed my life for the better in areas I never thought possible. I have learned countless lessons during our two-year journey towards minimalism, but none are more rejuvenating than these two:
1. Possessions weigh down your life. Possessions are heavy and cumbersome. And more than I knew, they were slowing me down. They demanded my time, energy, attention, and focus. Since I was young, consumerism has taught me that possessions would make my life better. They were wrong. Too many possessions will steal your life from you. They need to be purchased, transported, organized, cleaned, sorted, fixed, and managed. They keep us from the ones we love and from living a life based on our values. They cause us to lose our life rather than find it. Life is better with less. You become lighter and freer with less material things holding you back from the life you were born to live. If I could go back, I would buy a smaller house, a smaller car, less stuff. And my life would be better because of it.
2. Your life is far more valuable than the things that you own. In fact, if your greatest desire in life is to own more things, you are selling yourself short – way too short. But unfortunately, society has told us that our greatest dreams should consist of “doing well in school, getting a high-paying job, and buying a really nice house with lots of cool things.” That is a shame because we can dream better dreams. We can dream bigger dreams. Our life can be far more valuable than the things that we own. Our lives can be built on the things in life that really matter… love, hope, charity, relationships, influence, significance, spirituality. Choose to live for the invisible, eternal things of life, not the physical things that will perish, spoil, or fade.
I was asked recently if I would ever go back to the lifestyle I led before becoming a minimalist. “No way, ” I said, “I feel like I wasted too many years of my life chasing the wrong things.”
Luckily, two years ago, I found minimalism.
And I got my life back.
It’s a funny old life! I grew up in relative poverty, with almost no possessions or spare cash and I still fear it, but I’ve always valued experiences over money and my ambitions at age 18 could be summarised as “to travel and live an interesting life.” We’ve certainly done that, but along the way have collected a house, boat, motorbike, tractor, tools, books and all the other things that go with self development and bringing up three kids over 30 years. Now they’ve flown the coop and I’m finding at age 55 that I just can’t be bothered to maintain, clean and use all the toys any more. At the same time, I don’t find it easy to sell them and downsize to a smaller house, which is the logical thing to do. Family memories and the amount of work we have put into the house and garden make that difficult! I’m not sure that I could have deliberately lived a minimalist lifestyle at age 18, as I had been forced to do it as a child, but now, having the choice and with limited time left to enjoy this beautiful planet, it makes perfect sense!
This is such a great post. You managed to say so much with so little, I love it. I have been feeling more and more like these in recent years and you managed to say everything I was feeling. Thanks.
Josh..Found your blog by accident and it’s excellent. I’m currently in the “transitory” stage towards minimalism, but I have gotten rid of about 70-80% of the things I owned and have a bit more to do. Honestly, it is physically and mentally refreshing to let go of these items. It’s not easy, but not impossible either.
I won’t eliminate every single possession, but I just want to have only what I need and enjoy. My SO is not on the same path I am towards minimalism, but still supports me. Furthermore she is super organized and it seems we can at least co-exist, lol. I can’t “convert” her or anyone else, but I can at least control my own things, my spending and outlook towards things.
I can’t beat myself up over the past and my accumulation and fascination with things, but I can start anew today and forward. I would like my own minimalism to be a journey within itself.
Jack Bennett says
Great, succinct (dare I say, minimalist) summary of the lessons of your transformation.
I am still a little early in my journey, but I am already feeling the release and peace of mind that comes from letting go of attachment to physical “stuff” and focusing on intangible things.
John McLachlan says
Great post. I am on a steady path of reducing, reducing. It’s very liberating. I’m starting to think that one of the reasons it’s so powerful is that it gives one a sense of control in life and it’s when you don’t have control that people start resorting to addictions such as drugs, sex, food… the list goes on.
I guess if I were truly enlightened, it wouldn’t matter if there were piles of junk or none around me. It’s neither good nor bad.