When Kim and I (+ two kids) began minimizing our possessions, I was just looking for a little relief.
I was weary of living paycheck to paycheck. I was weary of spending so much money on myself while knowing there were others that needed it more. And I was weary of the time and energy being wasted on cleaning, organizing, repairing, and maintaining our home.
When my neighbor introduced me to the word minimalism, I began to see clearly how the excess possessions I had accumulated were stealing my time, money, and energy. And how minimalism was the change I needed in life.
In many ways, our decision to intentionally live with fewer possessions was motivated entirely by discontent.
But regardless of our motivation, shortly after the decision was made, we found countless life benefits. Minimalism introduced intentionality into our lives:
We found intentionality in our values and passions.
Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it.
And while this looks different for each person, it always requires its pursuer to further define his or her passions—and discover intentionality because of it.
We found intentionality in our finances.
Owning less, by itself, didn’t provide us with more money (except for the items we sold), but it did provide us with more opportunity for the uses of our money.
For example, once we became attracted to living with less, and the hold of consumerism on our checkbook was broken, we could use our money for more valuable purposes than buying from the clearance rack at the local department store. New opportunities to help others became available—and new decisions were forced because of it.
We found intentionality in our health.
Six months after discovering minimalism, I faced an upcoming birthday. After spending so many months removing the clutter from our home and life, the last thing I wanted to receive was anything that could become clutter.
While brainstorming nonphysical gift ideas, I noticed a Planet Fitness that had just opened down the street from my house. And for the first time I had the motivation, the finances, and the time to get in better physical shape.
We found intentionality in our diet.
Interestingly enough, the last thing you want to put in your body after working out is junky, processed food. So we started making healthier food choices: more fruit, more vegetables, less sugar.
More time and less desire to buy possessions… introduced me to a gym membership… which then introduced me to healthier diet.
I also began to form new friendships with other simple-living advocates, many of whom modeled intentional diets. Over the years, we have experimented with many of their ideas. Each time, we discover new foods to eat and increased understanding about the food we put in our bodies.
We found intentionality in our spirituality.
Minimalism offered the opportunity to slow down. It also provided the motivation.
As I began to realize how much of my thinking had been hijacked by advertisements and a consumer-driven society, I was drawn to the practice of meditation and solitude. I was drawn to find new voices for guidance.
Being raised in a religious home, I was also drawn to find the voice of a higher power—one who knew far more and could reorient my life around greater, more eternal pursuits. This voice is still and small. And it requires each of us to slow down long enough to listen.
We found intentionality in our relationships.
Owning less opened the door for new relationships in our lives. We were able to become more involved with our neighbors and our community. We were more willing to have people in our home, as preparing for their arrival became easier.
We spent less time shopping and cleaning and organizing and began to spend more time with the people who made life enjoyable. Our capacity for and appreciation of relationships began (and continues) to grow.
We found intentionality in work.
The longer we lived with fewer possessions, the more our view of money began to change. Having a lot of it became less important to us. Our essential needs are met and we have enough left over to practice generosity—what else is needed?
As our view of money shifted, so did our motivation for work. Work became less about the weekly financial deposit and more about the value and contribution we could provide to people’s lives. It opened the door even wider for honesty, cooperation, people, passion, and joy at work.
We found intentionality in our heart pursuits.
Living with less opened the opportunity for contentment, gratitude, and generosity to take root in our heart. It forced us to redefine happiness.
Happiness was no longer for sale at the department store. Instead, we discovered it was a decision available to us all along. And once we stopped looking in the wrong places, we were able to find happiness in the right places.
We entered into minimalism because of discontent in our lives. But among its greatest gifts, it brought us intentionality. And we couldn’t be more thankful.
If you only get one life to live, you might as well make it the most intentional one possible.