“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like,” Will Rogers famously said. Indeed, in our relentless pursuit to acquire and accumulate, we have become the pack-horses of our possessions. Things are in the saddle and run our lives. Instead of bringing relief, every new purchase loads us with weariness, confines our will, and prevents us from living freely and nobly. How did it come to this and is there a way out? This is one of many questions that Joshua Becker explores in his book The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own.
Throughout the book, the point Joshua Becker keeps coming back to is that “once we let go of the things that don’t matter, we are free to pursue all the things that really do matter,” a vital message for a society where dependence upon material possessions inevitably results in the destruction of human character. Minimalism, Joshua Becker argues, can offer us a different, more joyful way of living:
1. More time and energy. Whether we are making the money to buy them, researching and purchasing them, cleaning and organizing them, repairing them, replacing them, or selling them, our possession consume our time and energy. So the fewer things we have, the more of our time and energy we’ll have left to devote to other pursuits that matter more to us.
2. Less stress. Every added possession increases the worry in our lives. In your mind, imagine two rooms: one that is cluttered and messy, and another that is tidy and sparse. Which one makes you feel anxious? Which one makes you feel calm? Mess + excess = stress.
3. More generosity. Living a less acquisitive, less costly lifestyle provides the opportunity to financially support causes we care about. Our money is only as valuable as what we choose to spend it on, and there are countless opportunities worth vastly more than material accumulation.
4. Less environmental impact. Overconsumption accelerates the destruction of natural resources. The less we consume, the less damage we do to our environment, and that benefits everyone, including our children’s and grandchildren’s generations.
5. More contentment. We tend to think that we can resolve our discontentment by getting the item whose lack is seemingly making us unhappy. Yet material possessions will never fully satisfy the desires of our hearts. (That’s why discontentment always returns after a purchase.) Only after we intentionally break the cycle of accumulating more, can we begin to discern the true causes of discontentment in our lives.
More time, less stress, more generosity, less environmental impact, more contentment — these are just a few examples of how The More of Less can change our lives for the better. It’s a book that inspires us to take actionable steps to declutter our homes of all the stuff we don’t need, stuff that keeps us from crafting the life we want, all the while contributing to the much-needed change in our consumer-based society.