Saturday, August 27, 2016

What I've Read: The More of Less

I did small series on money in July and time management in August.  I was thinking about what I should do for September and my first thought was minimalism because that's been a big interest of mine lately.  Then I read this book and realized he said it all so much better than me.  So I'm just going to recommend the book and hope you read it! 

I first mentioned Joshua Becker here in my Quick Lit for August.  I had read his book Clutterfree with Kids and really appreciated all he said about living less with kids, how to do it, how to deal with gifts, how to get your kids to appreciate less.  I started listening to podcasts he had been on (just by searching his name in the podcast app) and many of them were done as promo for this book which came out earlier this year.  It's a small book and barely 200 pages so it was a pretty quick and easy read.  But also, so enjoyable and beneficial for me.

He starts by telling the story that led him and his wife to pursue minimalism (a story he told on every podcast I listened to so I could basically recite it at this point).  He was cleaning his garage one spring while his young kid wanted him to play baseball or something with him in the backyard.  But he was stuck cleaning the garage.  A neighbor made a comment about not needing to have all this stuff and bam!  A minimalist was born (basically).  I've thought of this story many times lately while we've been tackling big projects around the house and we also do the annual garage clean out in the spring.  While Luke mostly entertains himself.  Is that how we want to keep living?

From the he moves on to the benefits of minimalism (less to buy, less to store, less to clean, less to maintain, more time, etc.).  I agree with basically 100% of what he writes.  I had a library copy otherwise I would have been highlighting every other paragraph.  It pretty much completely sums up my thoughts on why I feel like we need to own less. 

Now, minimalism doesn't mean getting rid of everything you own.  For most of us, we consider a certain number of our possessions absolutely necessary: clothing, beds, lodging, a car, at least some of what is in our kitchens.  There are people who set certain limits on the number of things they own: say 100, but that's not for everyone.  Being a minimalist doesn't mean I have to get rid of everything that isn't 100% useful 100% of the time.  I can own more than one outfit and a pot for cooking.  Minimalism is getting rid of the unnecessary. 

This obviously means different things for different people.  Example (1) Matt needs scrubs to wear to work.  He own quite a few.  My sister who used to be a nurse got rid of all hers when she quit to stay home with her kids full-time.  I've never owned scrubs in my life.  For my sister and I scrubs would be excess while Matt needs them (Although does he need as many as he has?  I don't least his work pays for them!)

Example (2) I use my ice cream maker all the time and consider it worth the cupboard space.  My sister was selling hers at our recent garage sale.  Someone picked it up and was looking at it before her mother told her "nobody ever uses those" (I didn't point out I use my weekly in the summer.)  Just two examples.

Joshua Becker goes through the stories of a few other people, what led them to minimalism and what it means for them.  This includes people like Dave Bruno who limits his possession to 100 things and has maintained it.  There are also stories from people who have way more than 100 things, which is pretty much all of us.

It covers the positives of minimalism and ways to fight the consumerism that is so entrenched in our culture.  It covers ways stores trick us into wanting to buy more (I see you, Target credit card and Jo-Ann's decoy pricing). There are always ways our generation (millennials, gen X, etc.) can influence how we feel about stuff.  Something I had honestly never thought of (I also can never remember which generation I am supposed to be...)

A lot of the book covers the benefits of minimalism because, of course, you have to sell someone on something (a concept in the case) before you can get them to buy (get rid of stuff here).  Then he goes through strategies for purging.  He covers the things that trip up a lot of people (myself included) like inherited items and other sentimental things. And of course there is a starting point - somewhere, anywhere, small, maybe just a drawer, a single cupboard, or your car.  Starting is always half the battle.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking to downsize their possessions, whether you are interested specifically in minimalism or not.  It is very easy to quickly feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of your belongings and this may help you reconsider what is necessary and what is not.   Or even if you just want to stop a bad shopping habit.  Or create better habits for your kids to follow.

I've read a decent amount in the last few years about getting rid of things and the benefits to owning less and this is one the standouts.  Highly recommend. 

The More of Less

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