Why a Life of Less Will Lead You to More

I like things. I always have. I remember being a child and holding onto dear life to what I described as the “cutest tissue box” (this is essentially how I still describe everything). I never wanted to let that box go. That small material item provided me with more joy than I care to admit.

Most of my life I have craved the rush of excitement that surfaced when I would make a new purchase. Walking up to the register and soon out the door with my shiny new prize. It can almost be described as an adrenaline high (that is often later brought down by pressing anxiety over how much money I have spent). Enjoying shopping and acquiring new items is a normal thing in our society. There is always the latest technology coming out or the new fashion trend that everyone must be wearing. There is honestly nothing wrong with this society of commerce that we engage in. There is nothing wrong with enjoying nice things in life. I am not telling anyone that you must stop the buying. But we must work to reframe our thinking about our actual needs. If the pure desire for an item controls your thought process, leaving you unable to take a step back and not be consumed by it, then there is a problem. When you are not in control of the pressing desire within you to have the next thing, and then the next, the cycle will never end. As Joshua Becker, the author of Becoming Minimalist explains, “Buying things has become a pursuit with no finish line.”

I have experienced bouts of this feeling in my life. There have been periods when I have not been in balance and this “high” overwhelmed me. We have all gone to target for deodorant and walked out with a whole new kitchen set accompanied by the Christmas tree scented candle that we don’t need. Oh, and don’t forget the notebook with the cute little quote (I warned you).  Walking out with my new purchases I would feel a mix of that rush of accomplishment, along with this quiet but ever present nagging feeling in the back of my head that something just wasn’t right. That I wasn’t in control of this purchase. That I hadn’t thought it out, and that my desire to have these things was stronger than my true conscious and present mind.

Becoming more aware of this habit has made my life simpler in the most fantastic way. I used to make excuses for the amount of stuff in my room. Defending myself to no end, claiming  that everything was “organized junk”. I stopped solely organizing and began to completely get rid of items. Along with that nagging feeling in my brain being calmed down, I also began to feel a sense of freedom within my life. This is about more than just cleaning closets. It is about reframing our minds to get rid of that innate desire for more. This is an entire life change, not a temporary fix to have your closet in color order (mine is, so, of course, doing so is still acceptable).

I have an overactive brain. I’m sure many people reading this can relate to. By beginning to physically empty my environment, I felt as though my brain was clearing the stimulation that stood in the way of the important aspects in life that I should be focusing on. It is not only that cleaning feels good, it is the releasing of the things that weigh us down.

The over consumption of items, thoughts and activities can also be seen in how “busy” we are with meaningless tasks. Do you ever find yourself expressing just how “busy” you are, but in reality never seem to be getting much of anything done? By clearing my life of what is not of the most importance I have given myself that much more focus and direction. Between the purchases, social media and technology, school, work, hobbies, relationships, there is a lot to balance. Do you really need to be the head of the charity board when you already have a commitment to volunteer at the soup kitchen every other month? It is fine to have commitments that take up your time, but choose the ones that are truly in line with your values. You will appreciate these so much more than just trying to check off each item every day. By removing the activities that are not truly needed, you free up energy to focus on what matters. It is time we decide that we can stop burning ourselves out, and begin the journey to actually feel energized, all while accomplishing more.

Getting to a point where we mentally desire less is the absolute most freeing feeling. Where we are satisfied, where we do not need more. Where we may want more, but we know we are just fine without it. There is a freedom in owning less. A sense of control over one's life and balance. You are in charge, not your “things” or your “schedule.” We have to be okay with just ourselves at our very core; without all the distractions, possessions and stimulation.

It is time to get rid of the extra weight. Our homes and minds are filled to capacity. We are overly busy and consumed. Becker explains that “there is a profound joy and opportunity that accompanies this realization because it allows us to redirect our finite resources towards more important pursuits”. When we take a step back and think if these are really the things we want to be spending our energy on, we can get an honest picture of our life. We have to be straightforward with ourselves about exactly how much time we have wasted due to the areas discussed (time on our phone, time with that committee we joined because we promised our friend, time cleaning our basement, mental energy spent worrying about the over abundance of clothes we really should donate). Free your mind, your energy and your time, all while opening up yourself to more joy and opportunity.

Quiet the noise. Find peace and clarity in your lives, and stop making yourself so overwhelmed with it all.

Sources: 1, 2, 3