Do you find your possessions are starting to take over the house? Do the kids seem to bring in more than you can get out each day? Then you could probably benefit from Joshua Becker’s “rational minimalism.”
If you want to have a more streamlined home without going stark white walls and no furniture, then rational minimalism might just be your answer.
Minimalism – and the idea of paring down my belongings – is a project that has been near to my heart for quite a few years.
I admit that I am a bit of packrat (ok a few former college roommates would say more than “a bit”) and I have always had this need to cling on to things, especially those with sentimental attachments.
However, as I continue along in this journey of life I am realizing that you just can’t keep everything. And as a mom, I really don’t like having to pick up just to be able to clean each day. Can you relate to that nagging desire to simplify your life and homes?
If so, then the book “Simplify” by Joshua Becker just might interest you. This isn’t a “meat and potatoes” book on all the “how-to’s” of paring down our belongings…leave that to Peter Walsch! But this is a great inspirational story of one family’s journey into minimalism and how it is has improved their lives. His motivational tips will keep you moving along and wanting to continue in your pursuit of pairing down even when you get frustrated and tired of always cleaning.
The author describes his as a typical family of four in a typical suburban home who two years ago realized they simply had too much stuff. He actually had to look up what minimalism was on the computer when he first heard the term! This book chronicles what they have learned in the two years after deciding to become minimalists. Here are the seven tips and inspiration he gives in our pursuit of simplifying:
- Be convinced – Paring down our belongings can be an arduous task, and usually just getting started can be the hardest part. In order to help convince anyone on the fence about getting started, he lists 10 benefits as to why anyone would want to be a minimalist. I didn’t need any convincing but in case you might need some help, here is his list:
- Spend less
- Less stress
- Easier to clean
- Good for the environment
- Be more productive
- Good example for my kids
- Financially support other causes
- Own higher quality things
- Less work for someone else
- Make it work for you – he uses the term “rational minimalism” to describe their particular style of paring down for their family. This really struck a chord with me and was probably why I enjoyed his book so much. It’s the idea that you can define what’s right for you and your family in terms of just how minimalistic you decide to go.
- Jump right in – Minimizing is a marathon, not a sprint; pick an easy win (like the living room) rather than immediately tackling the garage. Do It Now! As FlyLady likes to say! 15 minutes a day is better than waiting for the “perfect” day when you will have 8 hours…that day will never come.
- Stop the trend – Stop buying!! This is the stage in which I find myself currently. Stop the madness and the constant influx of items into your home, only buy what is necessary and use what you have. Stopping the unnecessary spending can be very difficult for me, so it can be hard to bypass that amazing sale. But it reminds me of that meme that compares trying to clean your house with kids in it is like brushing your teeth while eating Oreos. Same idea with trying to minimize while also hitting up every yard sale in your neighborhood, stop the madness!
- Persevere – Have a goal and keep it in front of you. I started a board on Pinterest where I can pin pretty pictures of minimalist homes…but remember those pictures probably only looked like that for the second that the picture was taken! Again, minimizing is a marathon, not a sprint and those middle miles can be very long when you can’t see the finish line. So keep going even when it is difficult and eventually you will get to a point where you can see the fruit of your hard work.
- Share the Joy – Tell your friends! As with any long project, a little accountability goes a long way. When I tell my friends that I am downsizing and trying to pare down my possessions, there is quite a bit of disbelief as I have always been a packrat. But I think there is a growing sentiment in our society in realizing that we don’t need to be ever chasing after more and more things. So let’s encourage each other on our journey towards finding just the right amount of belongings for each of our individual situations.
- Simplify everywhere – not just your stuff, but your mental and emotional baggage as well. This clutter is just as defeating as the physical variety; simplify your schedule…and your kids’ schedule. Blasphemy, I know! In our family, we really try to limit our after-school activities to one sport/commitment per season. Kids are growing and learning in every single minute of their day, sometimes they really do just need some downtime as well as a good night’s sleep. These guidelines apply to us adults as well! Do you really need to volunteer at both the PTA and the bake sale at church? Could you pick just one? Give it a try!
As I read this book, a lot of it reminded me of my favorite downsizing guru: FlyLady! Joshua Becker’s ideas of rational minimalism, and finding just the right balance for each of our personal situations, really resonated with me. I appreciated his honesty about not taking on minimalism as a strict adherence to never owning any more than 100 items. For some, this might work, but it would certainly be way too much of a change for me and I probably would never get started.
I have his other book “Clutter-free with Kids” on my wishlist for a future read someday soon. If you are interested in reading more from Joshua Becker, check out his blog “Becoming Minimalist” I just know you will enjoy it as much as I have! He has such a great way of writing from his heart about his experiences along their family’s journey towards minimizing their possessions and their lives.