Call it serendipity. Call it divine timing. Call it whatever you will.
When a small, blue book called “The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own” showed up in my mailbox I couldn’t wait to devour its pages. Why? Because it’s spring and we’re naturally purging already and continuing our journey into a curated, minimal lifestyle – so bring on the encouragement!
“Some people have a clear vision of what their purpose or goal in life is. For them, it’s relatively easy to craft their individual form of minimalism… Others are less clear about their objectives. They may have some inkling of what they want in life, but the picture of it in their minds is like a canvas that has only bee partially brushed with paint. These people feel dissatisfaction with their overspending and overaccumulation, and they would like to make a change, but at the outset at least, they aren’t able to fully map out what their approach to minimalism ought to be.” – Joshua Becker,“The More of Less”
If you’re in that gray space – as many of us are – this book will undoubtedly help you…
So, this post is two-fold.
First and foremost, Joshua Becker, the author of “The More of Less” so graciously offered an advanced reading copy so I could give my honest, heartfelt feedback.
But secondly, I believe I’d be doing him and his readers a disservice by only focusing solely on the book itself, so I’ll also be discussing how the book impacted our current lives in the short time we’ve had it.
“The More of Less” is nothing less than enlightening – a remarkable encounter with fate in finding your personal minimizing journey and living an intentional life. The book is sprinkled with gold nuggets of info, helpful advice, ideas and words of motivation.
My husband and I knew we wanted to live a minimally but “The More of Less” helped illustrate the how to and the why we’re pursuing living with less. It was like our “AHA!” moment.
And probably, most importantly “The More of Less” speaks truth into our lives.
Truth about ourselves. Truth about our society. Truth about confusing “excess with success” and truth about how “consumerism became confused with happiness.” Truth about how and why it’s so important to take this journey if we want to live our lives more intentionally. Truth about the misconceptions of minimalism and and truth about how seeking a minimal life won’t happen unless we rid ourselves of unneeded possessions and the desire to obtain them. In the end, it shows us how life is more fulfilling without a bunch of stuff – and he’s clear that minimalism means different things to different individuals and families.
Joshua says it’s all about decreasing distraction… In his words, minimalism is “the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from them.”
Why I thought it was almost comical this book landed in my mailbox at this very moment in our family’s life is our kids are the same age as the author’s children were (almost 6 & 2), when he and his wife began realizing how much joy a minimalism brought their family. We were also already cleaning out our garage, closets, office space, kitchen and kids rooms… but now, instead of sifting through belongings, we up and donated over 95% of them leaving our spaces open, spacious and uncluttered. How freeing!
It’s an ongoing process, internally and externally, but every day we’re freeing ourselves up to fulfill our true purpose in life and helping our children find theirs.
We can now fill our time with each other and our passions and giving back, not cleaning or organizing or shopping… ugh the shopping. I already despise shopping and we generally value experiences over stuff, so those are no-brainers to us… but not to everyone. And I appreciate how “The More of Less” talks about how to handle family members who may not be on the same page as you as you go through minimizing your possessions.
But beyond tangible possessions and shopping sprees, “The More of Less” also discusses how to help manage your schedule, wallet, health and most importantly, your internal desire to want less and to give more, which ultimately leads to unending joy and happiness – something all humans pursue.
Many words Joshua wrote really stuck with us, but these words really hit home: “We realized that for years we had let some items that were desperately needed by others gather dust in our closets or basement,” he says. “And for what reason? Just in case our supply of linens, cookware, or clothing suddenly proved to be inadequate?”
We often keep things for sentimental value or things we might need someday, but those things are weighing us down, “why do we keep them and selfishly hoard the joy for ourselves?” says Joshua. “Isn’t there even more joy in knowing that those [things] are being used by someone else who needs them more?”
And he says: “Unfortunately, too often, the physical possessions we accumulate in our lives keep us from experiencing more of those very things!”
But what about books, toys, childhood memories, heirlooms, art supplies…etc.? (My vice has always been books and now that we’re homeschooling, art supplies!!) Don’t worry, he covers all of these hard-to-get-rid-of items, and he has concrete solutions for doing so.
The book does let you know there’s a difference between minimizing and organizing your things, or “leveling” – the latter won’t get you where you want to go.
I love the personal stories he weaves in and out, bringing a sense of community to his mission – we’re all in this together and can help one another achieve greater purpose – the purpose we’re meant for if we’re not caring for all these unwanted possessions.
As I continued to read the book at any random moment of peace while the kids played or read or slept, my husband would come in the room and ask “So what did you learn from the book today?” I’m so thankful he’s on the same page as I am about minimizing because not all partners are; another topic Joshua covers in his book – partners who may need a little persuading.
My husband had as much fun as I did learning as we went along. It was like reading the screenplay to our lives, so many mirrored instances like missing time with our kids while we decluttered. How sad! But we know better days lay ahead.
And we now both agree we’ll discuss all purchases – big and small (except perishables), but especially online purchases – something that happens a little too easily and quickly in our home, with UPS or FedEx showing up almost daily with books, supplies or new technology).
When I told my husband that Joshua published another book a while back called “Clutterfree with Kids,” he immediately pulled out his phone to order it off Amazon… I kind of freaked out and said I could look it up at the library (so as not to accumulate another book)… but I’ll give him this last pass on ordering something without both agreeing because we both know I’ll enjoy the book, offer him the verbal cliff-note version, and pass it on for someone else to enjoy, and in the end help spread the one of the most important messages of our time – that “each of us is born with an ingrained desire to live for something greater than ourselves,” said Joshua…
…and we can only find out what that is when we’re not distracted by everything else.
Okay, okay, and book proceeds go to an awesome author with a great cause.*
The only caution I offer is to parents with an infant. Please wait to read this book. Put it on your calendar to read next spring because I can imagine it will be so much more timely and helpful then. After we had our second child I so desperately wanted to get rid of all the baby stuff (the safety gate, the high chair, the bottles cluttering our kitchen), but it just wasn’t time yet. Don’t worry, the time will come when this book will inspire you beyond all dreams – please be patient and care for your young family first.
I know I’m supposed to homeschool my kids… I can feel I’m on the right path with God. But there’s more I’m supposed to do. There’s more for me to help – more to give of myself. And this book has helped me in finding out what other joy awaits me in life.
“The beauty of minimalism isn’t in what it takes away. The beauty and the full potential of minimalism lie in what it gives.”
*Check out The Hope Effect – changing how the world cares for orphans – Joshua and his wife’s cause they created after minimizing his life.