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Living with Less.
All of these have become buzzwords in the past few years. We are becoming more and more interested in reducing, simplifying, and de-cluttering.
There are plenty of self-help books and shows about de-cluttering, and Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (a great read!) has become a huge bestseller.
But why this desire for less? What has brought us to the point that sometimes we even pay people to help us get rid of stuff?
The truth is, that many of us have realized that having more stuff doesn’t make you happier!
Over the past few years I have found this more and more to be true in my life. After moving a couple of times, you begin to question if you REALLY need all of the things you cart around from house to house. Have a really pulled out my notes from my English 101 class? Am I ever going to actually wear that hoodie I’ve had since high school?
But it can be so hard to let go…what if I need it someday? It’s always best to have a back-up, right?
Sometimes yes (think toilet paper!), but most of the time we don’t need a bunch of extras.
It is super easy to get caught up in the consumerist mantra of more always equaling better! But more doesn’t really make you happy, in fact, according to many studies it can cause even more stress.
Is the answer to all of your problems simply getting rid of a ton of stuff? Will you be happy after carting a bunch of bags to Goodwill and reducing your closet to 40 hangers?
No, because the answer is not just a stuff problem, but an attitude problem.
When we have lots of stuff, it is easy not to value it very much. We are likely be less careful when we use our things, because hey, we’ve got another one! This attitude can lead to carelessness and cause us to assume that everything is replaceable.
Instead of taking things for granted, let’s stop and take a moment to do the opposite: count our blessings.
If I take a minute to reflect, I see that I am surrounded by a multitude of blessings! I am blessed to live in a warm home, with electricity, running water, and a refrigerator full of food. My husband and I have graduated from college and are employed. We have a car and enough money to fill it with gas.
Think about it. All of this is way more than most people around the world have!
Now, I am not pointing this out just to put you on a guilt trip and try to convince you that you are a terrible person or that you should give a large donation in order to atone for having things that others don’t.
It is good to enjoy the things that God has blessed us with, but we should also consider if we take them for granted sometimes and don’t use them as well as we could.
God has given each of us gifts, not so that we can hoard those gifts, but so we can cultivate them and use them to help others.
What does this have to do with living simply?
Living simply isn’t about just living with less stuff, it’s about having the right attitude about that stuff, one that will see it as a resource that needs to be stewarded well in order to be useful.
I want to live in a way that allows me to use my time, abilities, and money in a way that benefits others and pleases God.
This looks different for everyone, which is why it can be so hard to define simple living. It’s not a one-size fits all set of rules that everyone should try to follow.
For some, living simply might include having a larger house that allows them to host many guests and practice generous hospitality. For others, living simply might mean having a small house in order to save money and live without debt or support a missionary.
Instead of playing the simple living comparison game, think about the gifts that you have. Are you spending your time well? What about money? How are you blessing your family with these gifts? How are you blessing your community with these gifts?
Simple living isn’t a set of rules, it’s an attitude towards life. It is living in a way that uses our God-given resources to bless others.
Want to read more about simple living? Here are some books that I highly recommend:
Organized Simplicity-Tsh Oxenrider: This book has a great perspective on simple and intentional living and gives lots of practical ways to apply these concepts to your life.
Living More with Less-Doris Longacre: This book was written even before going green was even a thing. Longacre has great thoughts on living in simple and sustainable ways, and while some of them might be a bit out there for you, she has some great tips on how to save money if you’re looking to cut back your budget.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up-Marie Kondo: As mentioned above, this bestseller really is a great book. If you are tired of your de-cluttering efforts continuing to fail, check this book out. She claims that if you follow her method, you will never have a set-back! I have personally used some of her tips and have found them really helpful.
What are your thoughts on simple living? How do you you live simply in your everyday life?