I make myself rich by making my wants few.
Henry David Thoreau
When Thoreau spoke of riches he wasn’t speaking of money. Experiences are what make our lives rich. when you come to the end of your life you can’t take your things with you, but your memories will be there for you till your last day.
I grew up in a small city, but spent my summers camping. I loved to sleep outdoors listening to the sounds of nature. After high school and even as a young mother, I moved around quite a bit, finally settling in a small town with plenty of open space for my children to explore in. Yet it wasn’t until I was in my early 30s before I was introduced to Walden by Thoreau<. I loved every part of the book and realized what I had been seeking all along with my constant moving. I wanted nature more than I wanted possessions.
Edward Emerson stated that his friend Henry David Thoreau “found greater joy in his daily life than most people ever would”. With this in mind, I found my slice of heaven right here on earth. My heaven doesn’t include home ownership, or fancy belongings. My heaven is filled with experiences and wonderful people I can spend my days with.
I have decreased my possessions, downsized the size of my home, and yet I had been avoiding labeling myself as a minimalist. Why? Well, simply I choose to do things my way and see labels as societies way to pigeonhole us into categories. So I simply state that I have decided to simplify my life.
Yet minimalism is something that I can’t avoid. Leo Babauta defines minimalism as a way to escape the excesses of the world around us. By using this definition we can embrace the term minimalist without feeling so different.
Whether it is the failing economy or simply a dissatisfaction with the way we have been living, many people are now embracing a simpler lifestyle. Instead of purchasing a larger home, they are learning to dig though their homes to eliminate those things that make their homes no longer feel like home and find happiness. Many are selling their homes to rent and free themselves from a mortgage, repairs and upkeep on a home. Instead they are living life, doing what they love and want.
Minimalism isn’t something being embraced by the baby boomer generation, but also young professionals and families.
- Lisa found her way to happiness after having to clean out her father’s home filled with his collecting. She saw how much of his time and money went into his belongings which then were left to his children to dispose of later.
- the minimalist mom shows how families can find the life of their dreams by decreasing their possessions and was able to pay off $80,00 in debt in only two years.
- Joshua and Ryan gave up six figure incomes after embracing minimalism.
We don’t have to picture a stark, empty house as a minimalist home. I for one want my home to be a reflection of who I am. I am creative, loving, friendly. I value a cup of tea with a neighbor rather than a text message. My home needs to be colorful and comfortable for not only myself but my company as well. What I love won’t necessarily be what you love, and that’s the point. If you want to avoid labels, be my guest. But before you decide minimalism isn’t for you consider what it may mean to you.
- more free time
- free from all day cleaning
- free from traffic jams
- free from crowded stores
- free from searching for items in your home (when was the last time you couldn’t find your keys?)
- free from a mailbox overflowing with bills (I last received a piece of mail 9 days ago)
- free from an over-scheduled day (try imagining waking to a day where you have nothing you have to do)
- free time to simply play with your children
To find the life of our dreams we need to revamp our vocabulary. The American Dream needs to become a Dream where each of us have plenty of time to love and be loved, one where we have enough, yet not too much.