December 1, 2011

Simplify

"The more stuff you own, the more your stuff owns you."

I have too much stuff. There, I said it. And this is coming from a person who routinely gives clothes away and throws junk out. It's therapeutic! Yet, I still have too much. If there are 64 shirts in your closet, but you only wear 20 of them, that's a clue. If you have more shoes in boxes than in your shoe rack, another possible indicator. If our attics and sheds and garages are packed airtight...and we still need to rent from U-Store...is this not a HUGE waving red flag? It's not necessarily junk. It's not crap, either. It's just STUFF. And we have way too much of it.

I just started reading Simplify, by Joshua Becker. (The Kindle version is $2.99) This was a dangerous idea. Like Dick Vitale reading a book called Yelling. Or Joan Rivers curling up on the couch with 10 More Reasons You Need MORE Plastic Surgery. Dangerous! I've been convinced for years that simplifying my life is essential. But Becker has spelled out a few things that have made it even clearer why striving to live a (rationally) minimalistic life just makes so much sense. I wanted to share just a few highlights with you that I've read so far:

"What our heart believes and loves always determines the path of our life." This sounds incredibly familiar, doesn't it? Like Jesus saying, "Where your heart is, there your treasure will be." (see Matthew 6:19-21)

While many of us get caught in the trap of thinking we need more money, "...the real secret to financial freedom is spending less. If you live a life that accumulates less stuff, you will spend less." Novel concept. Because the reality is for most of us, if we do wind up getting more money, we just wind up spending more money. And low and behold, we wind up with more...STUFF!

"Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from it." Did you catch that? It's not just about making space or cleaning up - it's about intentionally pointing to the things that you believe hold the most value. It's an exercise in priorities; an opportunity to determine what's going to control us. Or maybe more importantly, that (other than the Holy Spirit), we're not going to be "controlled". Because let's just get it out there in the open: "The more stuff you own, the more your stuff owns you." I know there's a snowball's chance in hades you might wear that shirt again, but could someone else be wearing it much more often? I know that I can rationally justify that I have 3 brown jackets - they're different shades of brown, thank you very much. But isn't someone else out there in need of a jacket? 

Here's a thought that Becker throws out in his book: Find 2 different countertops; 1 that's clean and free from clutter (&) the other that has dirty dishes, knick knacks, & food stains all over it. If you just stand in these 2 kitchens for a few minutes, what completely different emotional responses do you think it will invoke in you? Try it.

What have you done in your life to simplify?
Do you have any tips for the rest of us to simplify?
Or are you still hanging onto your stuff - and your chaos - for dear life?

2 comments:

Ron aka TheOldGeezer said...

Do I have any tips for the rest of us to simplify? Yes... grow old.

The older I get, the more the simple things in life become the most meaningful. I count a cup of coffee and a bran muffin in the morning a wonderful blessing from God.

Brian Mayfield said...

Ouch!
That's all I got.