Live What Matters

“Nobody really believes happiness is directly tied to the number of things we own. Yet almost all of us live like it.”

Joshua Becker, “Becoming Minimalist”

What do you think about that statement? Does it make you recoil? This doesn’t apply to me! Have you ever thought about the hold that stuff has on your life?

We lived in Alaska in a house that was rather old and rather small by my standards. It was nice enough, but it didn’t live up to some of my former houses. Although I wouldn’t have admitted it to many people, I felt that my house was a poor representation of me. I envied newer, nicer houses, but probably wouldn’t have admitted that either. Then, one evening Bret tuned in to a show that made me gasp – Tiny House Hunters. It documents a family’s journey as they move into a tiny house.  Most of these homes are small enough to be towed by a pick-up and measure less than 500 square feet. It was my version of a horror movie!

That was 4-5 years ago. Interestingly enough, I am now fascinated by that show and watch it often. I don’t think I would ever want to go that small, but there is something about these people that intrigues me. They are minimalists. They have learned that stuff doesn’t define them. They have learned to enjoy their things, rather than giving things a power over them. I appreciate that.

The past few years, we have adopted much more of a minimalist lifestyle than we had before. We ask the question “why?” before buying things. We would rather have one nice thing than 5 average things.

Last week, the kids were on spring break, and I had much more free time than usual. I spent a few days out shopping; wandering through stores, actually. And I found myself wanting things I didn’t need. I tried on a dress that was covered in sequins – not practical at all, but 80% off! Dresses, pants, shirts – everything was on a great sale. I found towels that were SO CUTE. And that stainless steel trash can for the kitchen, not exactly what I want, but it’s a great deal. Thankfully, I didn’t buy any of it. But I wanted it more that I care to admit.

As I drove home, I started thinking. I am usually pretty intentional about shopping (OK, I try to be intentional about all areas of life). I make a list and I stick to it. I only go to the stores that I need to go to. Most of the time, shopping is a job not a leisure activity. That makes it easier. When we subject ourselves to the marketing of stores and companies, it is easy to get sucked into the trap of needing wanting more and more.

Many of us do it with shopping – just look in your closet. How many items do you have that you haven’t worn in the last year? Can you even identify the stuff in the box in the back of your garage? Yet, we compulsively buy more. We do it with leisure activities. Our calendars are crammed full, yet we schedule more and more things that we don’t care about because we either can’t say no or it makes us feel important (ouch!)

Intentional living means that we know WHY we do what we do, WHY we buy what we buy, WHY we invest in what we choose to invest in. Isn’t it time to reclaim the power to choose how we live our lives and not let some marketing company decide for us. Live what matters, buy what matters – only what matters, and then you will find you have more time, money and energy. Start being intentional and you just might find that it is truly empowering! Click To Tweet

  • I do not agree with Joshua’s statement. When a person says “nobody”, it pretty much is an all-or-none statement. I DO believe that most Americans are materialistic, and that capitalism has fed into this narrative. I do believe that some people really believe happiness is tied to things and wealth.

    We have down-sized three times and now live in a retirement community where our space is less than 1,000 square feet and we are content, and yes, happy. Keep up the informative writing.

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