It’s very rare for me to purchase a book, but I was inspired to buy Joshua Becker’s new e-book, Inside-Out Simplicity, and I just finished reading it this morning. In so many ways, it echoes my sentiments exactly.
Minimalism and simplicity have become quite trendy lately, but quite often the people who are attracted to simple, minimalist lifestyles are young, single, and don’t have children. Joshua Becker – married with two children – is an excellent resource for people looking for ideas on how to life a simple life, without a lot of stuff, even if they have children. Since we have a child, his words tend to ring especially true for me, and a lot of the life lessons from children that he discusses in his new book are things I’ve witnessed myself over the last two years since we became parents.
Not only is simplicity possible when you have children, but I believe that it’s even more important when we have children. As parents, we are responsible not just for feeding, clothing, and sheltering our kids, but we are also responsible for shaping and teaching a new person. And the things we do are far more important than the things we say. So focusing on what really matters in life (rather than material possessions, status, power, etc.) is even more important if you’re trying to teach your values to a new little person.
There are many ways to view minimalism and simplicity, and I believe they can enhance your life regardless of your goals or values. I have no desire to live out of a backpack or count how many possessions I have. I currently have very little desire to travel, and am very content on our little mini farm that we’re creating. Maybe that’s because my husband and I traveled quite a bit throughout our 20s. I was also a Peace Corps Volunteer in Africa, which entails heading out on a two year journey with only what you can fit in two suitcases (the return trip had the same two suitcase limit, which meant that nearly everything I acquired while I was in Africa was given away before I left). I have had lots of travel adventures (which I thoroughly enjoyed) although currently the adventure that appeals most to me is creating a happy, nurturing home for my husband and son. And I’m finding that the adventure is enhanced by minimizing our possessions and focusing on our inter-personal relationships rather than our stuff.
Many books have been written on the subject of minimalism as it relates to physical possessions. How to get rid of things, how to stop shopping, how to downsize… all are valuable tools (including Joshua’s first book, Simplify. 7 Guiding Principles To Help Anyone Declutter Their Home And Life – a great read if you want practical tips and solutions). Joshua’s new book, Inside-Out Simplicity, gets to the root of it all, and forces us to really look at what truly matters and peel away all the stuff that doesn’t.
One of my favorite lines from Inside-Out Simplicity is “…in our consumerist culture, where discontent is promoted and material gratification is encourages, learning to be content can be very difficult”. The book is over 100 pages of tips and insights for how you can achieve contentment, and it’s well worth reading.
Joshua starts the book by noting that he doesn’t expect everyone to agree with all that he’s written, and that he knows it may generate some controversy. The only part of the whole book that I didn’t agree with was the section on spirituality, as it’s different from my own views. I believe that generosity, simplicity, gratitude, selflessness, and equality are terribly important, but I have come to this conclusion without any sort of spiritual beliefs… I just think that those things are what it means to be a good person, and I am content with simply striving to be a good person, without an external spiritual or religious code to guide me. Obviously everyone is going to have a different view on this sort of thing, and I can whole-heartedly recommend Joshua’s book as I agree with the other 98% of it. If you read it, please leave a comment and let me know what you think.
EDIT: I forgot to mention that although Inside-Out Simplicity is much deeper than a how-to manual for de-cluttering, it still inspired me in that regard. I’ve written quite a bit over the last few months about how I’ve kicked my thrift store shopping habit and donated several car-loads of stuff. I hadn’t been donating as much lately, simply because most of the extraneous stuff has already been donated. But after reading Joshua’s book, I filled the trunk of my car with stuff to donate today, and it feels great.