Minimalism will therefore vary for each individual, for some it might be white spaces and Zen-like living, others might decide to pare down their items to 100 things or have a desire to fit all they own into a suitcase. Like everything in life, it is not a one size fits all policy and is a lifelong attitude as opposed to a once in a lifetime event.
Clever marketing, magazines, blogs and other social media sites are keen to perpetuate the myth, that happiness is found in stuff. The problem with this mentality is that like any addiction the thrill of the purchase is superseded by the crash and as in any addiction the cycle of want-buy-crash is continued ad infinitum. I have never been a shopaholic since, as a child growing up, disposable income was in short supply and my mum did a great job managing on a single wage. Sometimes there was envy on my part, when I saw what other friends had but on the whole I was very grateful as I knew that buying a treat for me, meant that my mum went without a new item of clothing.
We don't have to be shopaholics to be hoarders as our possessions can take over when we are unable to say "no" to the gifted bags of hand me down clothing, books, toys and games. When Uncle Bernard died over two years ago, it took over six months for family members to clear out his house. He was a serious hoarder and by the time he realised that he had a problem, he was too poorly to do anything about it.
Minimalism and Simple Living has been a cause dear to my heart over the past few years. As I have grown older and been a home owner since my early twenties I have recognised the need for space and organisation. You Tube offers a plethora of interesting videos and books abound on the subject, even the Holy Father challenges us to take social justice and the environment seriously. My latest read has been The More of Less and I was fortunate enough to receive an e-copy for review.
Joshua's opening story recounts the all too familiar tale of an extended weekend, a garage clean out and no time to play ball with his son. It is a chance remark by his neighbour that sparks his journey into minimalism which is, to identify what matters and ditch the rest. Within six months Joshua and his wife Kim had jettisoned over 50% of their belongings and the blog "Becoming Minimalist" had been born. Two years later Joshua would relinquish his role as a student pastor and instead spend his time speaking at conferences and writing books and articles about his journey into less.
He debunks two myths surrounding minimalism and that is "you have to give up everything and it is another means of organisation." Minimalism is defining your objectives and then discarding items or activities that do not meet with that focus. Removing extraneous physical clutter from our lives not only frees up space but allows us to re-evaluate true needs from wants. This in turn forces us to question every item coming into the home. Gone are the impulse buys and instead, we pause and, nine times out of ten, that "need" disappears into the ether.
When the rich young man asks Jesus, "Good Teacher what must I do to gain eternal life." He is met with an honest and challenging reply, " Sell all you have and give it away to the poor. You will have riches in heaven, Come follow me." Joshua skillfully sums this up in one thought provoking comment:
"We search for the greatest good we can accomplish with the one life we have been given. We decipher what possessions we need to accomplish this role and then refuse to allow anything to keep us from fulfilling this purpose."
He shares the nitty gritty on marketing ploys and our "own wants from within" that can derail us if we are not on guard. We are encouraged to be mindful when shopping and to recognise that happiness and contentment are found in appreciating what we have, family, friends and home. He also offers practical advice on the minimising process and uses experiments to help you figure out just how much you really need.
The latter part of the book encourages the reader to find the ways of being the best we can be in this one life we have through:-
- Volunteering and Mentoring.
- Self reflection. Are we living an authentic life? Do our actions match with our values?
- Clearing out the mental clutter - this is an area that is a current work in progress in my life.
In closing, this book intertwines practical challenges and directions with real life stories and biblical teaching. Most simple living and green books are often found in the secular press and so a book like this, that encourages the reader on a spiritual journey, is a rare treasure.
Full disclosure: I received a free download in return for my review at Blogging For Books.