The More of Less | by Joshua Becker
"Minimalism is about what it gives, not what it takes away. It's the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from them. It's a new way of living that fills us with hope." Page 20
Out of the innumerable blog posts and books nowadays that cover the subject of minimalism, I am so glad I have the opportunity to review this one in particular.
Joshua's minimalism mantra had me nodding along, page after page. Yet, for those who are not pursuing minimalism, this book gives such incredible insight as to how we should view our "things." Not only as human beings of this world, but even as Christians. I very much appreciate his excerpts on how his faith has had such an impact on the choice to become a minimalist, because it's one of many reasons I too am aspiring to adhere to minimalism.
I believe that minimalism is a completely misunderstood ideal to some. It's viewed as a cult of followers who pretentiously snub the audacity of owning anything at all. But as Joshua so markedly reiterates throughout these pages, less isn't the same as none.
The point of minimalism is to guide your relationship with things and help you find more in less (as the book title so aptly clarifies). It forces you to take a look at (and even pick up and touch) each individual item you own and think about the importance of the items you may feel buried under. Sadly, many of us do not even realize the stress our things are putting on us. We don't realize that our stacks of mail, and boxes of decor, and endless amounts of books are actually putting a strain on our relationships and time spent doing the things we value most. We're left endlessly cleaning massive homes and fancy cars. This book forces you to explore what should feel normal in terms of ownership and consumerism.
Think about it.
In college, for example, I was surrounded by equally as poor peers. We all owned very little, so sharing became a norm. When we needed to dress up for events, instead of buying new clothes, we often raided one another's closets. Those who bought new clothes a the drop of a hat were an exception, not a rule.
Enter adulthood. My peers were suddenly in differing age groups than me. I was in an entry-level position, planning a wedding, and living with a roommate 45 minutes from my job. The endless lunches out with colleagues started to become straining to me financially, and my social standing seemed to fall because I couldn't keep up. I tried to keep up with this by buying fewer clothes and eating next to nothing for dinner so I could handle the expenses of constant lunches out, but it was futile and I grew increasingly embarrassed. Joshua hits the nail on the head:
"... most of us choose to spend our personal time with people who are similar to us. We feel comfortable and accepted among them.
But when you are pulled from your regular social circle, you may begin to feel self-conscious about things you wouldn't normally think twice about."
This was exactly the position I had found myself. I enjoyed being with the people I cared about, but not at such a financial expense. It weighed on me and for two+ years I struggled to fit in. It felt like middle school all over again! Lunches out were not of any value to me and made me feel inferior.
What Joshua pointed out next was such a breath of fresh air:
"What if excess became the cause of embarrassment? And responsible living that championed generosity became the norm?"
What a world that would be, wouldn't it? In a world filled with excess, it's hard to imagine, isn't it? You get to create your norm. And I can tell you, that even in my short journey in minimalism, the incredible freedom and joy I feel when I walk through a store and want nothing is incredible. My definition of enough is very different from many around me, but I sincerely hope others can soon find the contentment I have found in less... and this book is a great place to start.
Minimalism, at its core, is not about perfectionism. This is a common myth. To many, it can seem synonymous with beautifully manicured, tidy homes and only enough dishes for the amount of people living in the home. It's about only keeping the things that actually add value to your life. I recently bought another entire set of dishes. Why? Because we hope to cultivate friendships in our community and host others under our roof. Important conversations happen around the dinner table, and it is of great value to us to be able to serve others in that way. We're in the stage of distinguishing what items are of great importance and what items will distract us from our values. That looks different for everyone - there is no "one size fits all" in terms of what you keep and what you get rid of.
You see, we are all selfish beings (something Joshua is sure to point out). We hoard our possessions and let sentimentality become the running factor of our excess. Read what King Solomon discovered about excess (and selfishness) in Ecclesiastes 2:10-11. In the later chapters of his book, Joshua offers challenges and experiments. Like boxing up a number of your possessions for a set amount of days, and if after that amount of days you didn't miss those items or need them - donate them! Another beautiful part of minimizing, is the generosity you find in it. The items you have been holding on to, could be well loved and used by others who may need them more (like those baby clothes!). It's an exercise in giving and it feels good.
Joshua covers just about every question you can think of regarding becoming a minimalist. Even what to do when one person in a household is drawn to minimalism and the others are not. This is a lifestyle change and it takes practice. I highly, highly recommend The More of Less as a wonderfully encouraging resource for those who are curious about adopting this practice or need a boost in the right direction. I hope you'll continue to join me on Joy Lynn for more posts regarding simple living and minimalism! Also, check out Joshua's blog: Becoming Minimalist.
For the sake of transparency with my readers, I will always tell you when I've received something for a discounted price (or free) or could potentially receive a commission off a purchase made through one of my links. Thank you for understanding the benefits these sponsorships bring to your favorite bloggers!
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this honest review.