It’s hard to believe it’s been 15 years this weekend since I first heard the word minimalism Saturday morning in Vermont.
In a world that constantly cries out that “more is better,” the idea of intentionally owning less is countercultural, as if it had to break through the noise. For me it was a conversation with a neighbor. For others it was a parent, a friend, or even this blog.
But regardless of how we met minimalism, lifestyles start to change us.
The last 15 years have been a journey of learning, understanding and growth for me.
Whether you’ve been reading Becoming Minimalist for 15 years straight (thanks mom!) or just started today, I want to celebrate by sharing 15 lessons minimalists have taught me over the past 15 years. I think.
1. Less power.
Our society often sees the better as good, encouraging us to hoard things in pursuit of happiness. At the heart of every advertising message is the basic message that this product will improve our lives.
Perhaps the most profound lesson minimalism taught me was the power of less. Having less stuff not only freed up physical space, but freed up valuable (and finite) resources to: something important.
2. Real wealth is intangible.
There are multiple definitions of the word wealth. Merriam-Webster offers three services:
1. Abundance of valuable material possessions or resources
2. Abundant supply
3. All property with monetary or exchangeable value
When most people think of the word wealth, they define it (and usually want it) in terms of financial or material resources.
But there are other things in the world that we should hope to have in abundance. Relationships, love, faith, shock, etc. come to mind.
Often, the pursuit of material wealth leads to a shortage of other pursuits rather than an abundance of them. Given the choice, I would always prefer the abundance of relationships, faith and love over money.
Minimalism makes it even clearer than before.
3. You can’t buy satisfaction.
Society says that having more stuff makes you happier, just by turning on the TV, opening up social media, and flipping through magazines.
But our endless pursuit of more only leaves us feeling empty and dissatisfied. An overly cluttered closet, garage, or storage unit is a visible sign of our ongoing dissatisfaction.
Minimalism has taught me that true satisfaction cannot be bought in stores. have to find it elsewhere.
4. Abundance of giving.
In the accumulating competition, we overlook the joy of giving.
Generosity is something we want to be true to ourselves – of course. Yet, despite 80% of us believing that more money would make us happier, few consider the abundance that comes from giving as a source of lasting happiness. .
But there is another way. And over the years of my pursuit of minimalism, I’ve learned that generosity isn’t just a byproduct of minimalism, it can be its very lifeblood.
It is a form of wealth that enriches not only the receiver but also the giver.
5. Comparison steals joy.
Comparison seems to be hard-wired into the human psyche.
And one of the things I’ve learned in my 15 years is that if you don’t compare your physical possessions to your neighbors, you’ll find others to compare to. Minimalism doesn’t automatically get rid of that tendency.
But minimalism leaves us with one less thing to compare it to. And slowly, but subtly, I learn to collaborate and root instead of comparing.
6. Minimalism is a lifelong journey.
Tidying up is not a one-time activity, but an ongoing process of evaluating what brings value and purpose to our lives.
Fifteen years ago, I named this blog “Becoming a Minimalist”. And I couldn’t be more pleased with this name choice. In fact, I almost never (if ever) call myself a minimalist. 15 years later, I still like to use the phrase “be a minimalist.” Because consumerism will not go away and life will not change.
Next year my daughter will graduate from high school and my wife and I will be empty hives (at least it seems that way today). At that point, we will need to re-evaluate what our greatest purpose is at this time in our lives. What do you need to bring to reach that goal? And what has become just a pastime?
Minimalism is a lifelong journey of making conscious decisions that align with our values.
7. Intention is the key to joy.
At the heart of minimalism is intentionality.
It is about aligning our life resources with our greatest values and removing our distractions from those values.
And I realized that the greatest and most lasting joy lies in living in harmony.
Minimalism is essentially choosing what to take in and what to let go, what to do or not to do, what to pursue and what to let go.
8. Minimalism promotes spiritual growth.
My personal beliefs formed a rich foundation for how I think about minimalism and how to pursue it.
Likewise, minimalism has brought more depth and understanding to my personal faith. And it was an unexpected surprise for me.
Faith is not a subject I will elaborate on here in Becoming a Minimalist. There are other places where I practice it.
9. Our identity is not defined by what we own.
We live in a world that often defines us by what we own. But our possessions are just objects. They do not reflect our identity or values. And those with the most wealth sometimes sacrifice their very identities for it.
Therefore, we must be careful not to measure our success in life by material possessions. As the old saying goes, “A rich mind may lie beneath a poor coat.”
10. Children see us more than we realize.
For the past 15 years, I have lectured around the world on the pursuit of minimalism. And everywhere we face the same question: How can we protect our children from envy and materialism?
And my answer is always the same. “You need to protect yourself from envy and materialism. If your closet is full of things you don’t need, it will be hard to explain to your child the stupidity of buying things you don’t need.”
If we want to raise non-consumerist children, we have to model for them.
11. Minimalism enforces clarity.
The process of minimizing possessions requires more than the physical effort of deciding what to let go. It takes mental effort to identify what needs to be kept.
You can’t decide what to get rid of until you know what you need. And until you know what you’re trying to achieve in life, it’s hard to know what you need.
Minimalism imposes a question of values. Of course, it also provides clarity and space to answer questions.
12. Money can be spent on better things than material possessions.
The value of our money is determined by what we spend it on. When we choose a material commodity such as a big screen television or a new wardrobe, it is the value we acquire, such as fleeting entertainment or ever-changing fashion.
But let’s consider another approach. What if we decide to spend that money on shared experiences like family vacations? Then the value of our money extends beyond the physical.
Similarly, what if we put the same resources into solving problems and making a difference in the world? provide orphans with families Or will you deliver clean water to villages? All of a sudden, it’s worth many times your money.
The real value of our money is not in what we can buy for ourselves, but in how we can make a difference in the lives of others. There is always something better to spend money on than material possessions.
13. Minimalism is personal.
Minimalism does not adhere to a “one size fits all” approach. For all of us, it depends on where we live, our families, our careers, our hobbies, and even the problems we want to solve in the world.
There is a lot of freedom in this lesson. And most people who decide to pursue a minimalist life learn this quickly.
14. Selfless work is often the most meaningful.
Through minimalism, I discovered a new perspective on my work.
Choosing to live on less money also requires less financial resources. And we will be able to think differently about work. Work can become a way to put our hearts into the world rather than a way to earn ever-increasing salaries.
With less need, you can focus more on contributing to those around you rather than working for your personal gain. In doing so, we find our work to be a source of joy and satisfaction rather than an opportunity to gain more for ourselves.
This change, while seemingly counterintuitive in a consumerist society, brings a deeper sense of fulfillment and purpose.
15. The world needs minimalism.
Embrace minimalism. It’s a gift waiting to be unwrapped. This philosophy is not limited to any particular character, situation or economic status. It’s an opportunity to be more intentional, giving you the freedom to focus on what really matters.
Through minimalism, we realize our greatest potential.
Minimalism isn’t about having less stuff, it’s about creating space for more purpose, more clarity, and more fulfillment.
The world is desperate for this transformation. Jump while you can. Minimalism is a call to enhance our lives and enrich our space and spirit.
Looking back over the last 15 years, I am so grateful for the journey that minimalism has taken me on.
But I also appreciate the Becoming Minimalist Community. Thanks to your many kind comments, emails and support, I was able to play this role in the world and encourage all of us to own less and live more.
I hope that over the next 15 years, I will continue to grow and challenge myself. And I hope you do the same.