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Less is More, More or Less

September 10th, 2014

Less is More, More or Less

With our impending move we’ve further sold, donated and recycled more than half of our belongings as over the years we’ve come to realize that it’s not about what we posses, but rather what we pursue.

In a world that dictates the value and self-worth of a person based on their income potential we’ve made a deliberate choice to go against the grain and live more intentional lives.

The minimalist movement is growing the world over, it’s not new, and in our case something we’ve been moving towards over several years.

The premise is simple: resolve to let go of everything that isn’t making your life better, sweeter, and richer, so you can make room for everything that does.

It’s by no means new either, Socrates shared “The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.”

Gratitude is a discipline, it’s cultivated. In our case we have a very personal Faith that drives and motivates our decisions, but even those that don’t share it can benefit from a life of less.

It’s hard to escape excessive consumerism, but here are 10 reasons to do so.

1) Less debt. It’s said that the average American owns 3.5 credit cards and $15,799 in credit card debt… totaling consumer debt of $2.43 trillion in the USA alone. This debt causes stress in our lives and forces us to work jobs that we don’t enjoy. We have sought life in department stores and gambled our future on the empty promises of their advertisements. We have lost.

2) Less life caring for possessions. The never-ending need to care for the things we own is draining our time and energy. Whether we are maintaining property, fixing vehicles, replacing goods, or cleaning things made of plastic, metal, or glass, our life is being emotionally and physically drained by the care of things that we don’t need—and in most cases, don’t enjoy either. We are far better off owning less.

3) Less desire to upscale lifestyle norms. The television and the Internet has brought lifestyle envy into our lives at a level never experienced in human history. Prior to the advent of the digital age, we were left envying the Jones’ family living next to us—but at least we had a few things in common (such as living in the same neighborhood). But today’s media age has caused us to envy (and expect) lifestyle norms well beyond our incomes by promoting the lifestyles of the rich and famous as superior and enviable. Only an intentional rejection of excessive consumerism can quietly silence the desire to constantly upscale lifestyle norms.

4) Less environmental impact. Our earth produces enough resources to meet all of our needs, but it does not produce enough resources to meet all of our wants. And whether you consider yourself an environmentalist or not, it is tough to argue with the fact that consuming more resources than the earth can replenish is not a healthy trend—especially when it is completely unnecessary.

5) Less need to keep up with evolving trends. Henry David Thoreau once said, “Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but religiously follows the new.” Recently, I have been struck by the wisdom and practical applicability of that thought whether relating to fashion, decoration, or design. A culture built on consumption must produce an ever-changing target to keep its participants spending money. And our culture has nearly perfected that practice. As a result, nearly every year, a new line of fashion is released as the newest trend. And the only way to keep up is to purchase the latest fashions and trends when they are released… or remove yourself from the pursuit altogether.

6) Less pressure to impress with material possessions. Social scientist Thorstein Veblen coined the phrase “conspicuous consumption” to describe the lavish spending on goods and services acquired mainly for the purpose of displaying income or wealth. In his 1899 book, The Theory of the Leisure Class, this term was used to describe the behavior of a limited social class. And although the behavior has been around since the beginning of time, today’s credit has allowed it to permeate nearly every social class in today’s society. As a result, no human being (in consumption cultures) is exempt from its temptation.

7) More generosity. Rejecting excessive consumerism always frees up energy, time, and finances. Those resources can then be brought back into alignment with our deepest heart values. When we begin rejecting the temptation to spend all of our limited resources on ourselves, our hearts are opened to the joy and fulfillment found in giving our personal resources to others. Generosity finds space in our life (and in our checkbooks) to emerge.

8) More contentment. Many people believe if they find (or achieve) contentment in their lives, their desire for excessive consumption will wane. But we have found the opposite to be true. We have found that the intentional rejection of excessive consumption opens the door for contentment to take root in our lives. We began pursuing minimalism as a means to realign our life around our greatest passions, not as a means to find contentment. But somehow, minimalism resulted in a far-greater contentment with life than we ever enjoyed prior.

9) Greater ability to see through empty claims. Fulfillment is not on sale at your local department store—neither is happiness. It never has been. And never will be. We all know this to be true. We all know that more things won’t make us happier. It’s just that we’ve bought into the subtle message of millions upon millions of advertisements that have told us otherwise. Intentionally stepping back for an extended period of time helps us get a broader view of their empty claims.

10) Greater realization that this world is not just material. True life is found in the invisible things of life: love, hope, and faith. Again, we all know there are things in this world that are far more important than what we own. But if one were to research our actions, intentions, and receipts, would they reach the same conclusion? Or have we been too busy seeking happiness in all the wrong places?

Here are a couple of books I recommend on the subject:

Living With Less: An Unexpected Key to Happiness – Joshua Becker (who also shared the 10 tips above.)
Free: Spending Your Time and Money on What Matters Most – Mark Scandrette

And a couple of blogs:

So if you’re feeling unfulfilled by the trappings of a lifestyle you don’t want, but feel forced into, look at scaling back, jumping off the train to live a life with more intention and meaning.

VISI 66 - The Office Issue

I’m a little slow on the uptake, but in case you haven’t already seen it, the latest issue of VISI is out.

Play-Play Office - VISI 66

Play-Play Office - VISI 66

Play-Play Office - VISI 66

Images courtesy of VISI, photographed by Micky Hoyle

It’s jam packed with Office Ideas including a spread on Nathan’s ‘Play-Play’ office. VISI also did a behind the scenes ‘home tour’, which you can see on-line here.

Allison House Tour - Lounge

Allison House Tour - Collage

Allison House Tour - Dining Room

Images courtesy of VISI, photographed by Fay Jackson

Fingerpaints and Play-Dough

January 16th, 2013

Today heralded yet another milestone in our lives, the day Nathan started school.

We’ve enrolled him 3-days a week, from 9-12 at a local playschool. It’s quite something as any parent who’s experienced it will tell you.

Aside from the obvious there are things like buying a backpack, stationery, packing fresh fruit and labeling a gazillion bits of paraphernalia down to shoes and socks (not that he’s a fan of either).

As I’ve shared in the past being a Stay-At-Home-Dad is a bit of an anomaly in these parts, which in turn meant we didn’t really socialise with other kids during the first 2 years of his life, we largely had each other for company and more recently our childminder.

I was a little worried about how he might react around so many kids, though in all fairness he’s been attending our weekly Sunday school for the better part of a year, along with visits to the local park.

The day started with much fan fare, picking out his favourite clothes, packing his new backpack with apples, a water bottle and change of clothes. Brimming ear to ear we fired off a couple snapshots (begrudgingly I might add) and then made the journey to his new school.

On arrival we were met with many a tear from fellow classmates, after running the gauntlet we took him to meet his teacher, whose name he’d been practicing with us. After greeting her he found his coat hook and slung his bag over it before taking a seat by himself at the activity table, all of his own accord.

And that was that, no tears or heartache, just a friendly smile and wave with our impending departure.

Kathy and I returned to collect him at 12pm and found him happily playing on the jungle gym, greeting us with a hug and proudly showing off the star on his forehead.

His teacher was gushing at how confident and courteous he was, causing a sense of pride to well in my chest and thoughts of “That’s my boy!” running through my head.

She was surprised to see that he’s already potty trained and that he didn’t skip a beat asking for assistance when he needed to go. I felt like telling her that the reason was that in a day and age where most affluent folk use disposable nappies we used cotton, washable ones, a great motivator to get him onto the toilet as soon as he was up to it… I can’t imagine having to deal with TWO kids in nappies.

After saying our goodbyes we managed to leave relatively unscathed, though his favourite hat was lost in “The Battle of Fallen Toys”. There is hope though, because Mommy labelled it.

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