The decision to be more intentional about the way our family lived was not an easy one. It took many years of trial and error. It took doing things to pursue what we thought was the American dream. It took accumulating years of clutter.
We realized that what made us happiest was freedom. Freedom from things. Freedom to have the time to experience life. Freedom to do the things we always wanted to do. A lot of people ask me, what do you find useful about living simply?
Here are few reasons our family embraces this idea:
The clutter kept us from pursuing the things we loved. I often blamed my lack of organization for not having a better family schedule or not having time to pursue my passions, like writing and going back to school. But the reality is, you only have so much time in a day. I was being too hard on myself to think that I could really manage to keep things organized. The stuff didn’t help at the end of the day, it made our life more complicated than it had to be.
Having less gave us more time. Having less stuff actually gave us more time; we had more to time to work out, spend time with the kids on the weekend, and start to get involved in our new community.
It takes less time to maintain a home. The amount of time it takes me to clean keeps getting smaller, as I reduce more and more clutter from our lives. Having less actually opens up more time to do other things that we have been putting off for years.
Material things made me feel trapped. The more things I accumulated over the years, the more a sense of unhappiness settled in. Weekends became a time to organize and reorganize, and no storage solution seemed to help.
Physical clutter was a sign of emotional clutter. I realized that the things that were supposed to make me happy, actually ate away family time and deterred my personal growth. Releasing certain things has made me see that I was holding on to the past. I have been able to live more in the present.
Financial freedom. The burden of a large mortgage and property taxes at the top of our budget, never allowed us to save up for travel. We missed many trips with relatives and friends. Having less, we are able to save up for college funds for our children and also save money to give them experiences, rather than more material things.
No longer caring about The Joneses. I always said when I was young that I would never care about The Joneses. But as life settled in, we realized that a home was a display of the success we had achieved; we were proud of it. Over the years, our attitudes have changed on this. The decisions we make have more to do on what we desire for our own lives, versus what other people think.
We feel more free. Thinking of life this way is freeing. What we realized is that what works for our family is what matters. What other people think really doesn’t really matter at the end of the day. The less we cared about what people thought of our decisions, the more clear we became about what worked for our family and what we wanted in life. We no longer had to pursue this illusion of success.
Overall, this experience has been very positive, but we have adapted a version of minimalism that works for our family. We aren’t the exact label of pure minimalism, but we are living mores simply, doing what works for us.
I still own more pairs of shoes than I need, we still keep our eldest clothing for the little one, and we still have our momentos from our wedding. But we have less, and we don’t feel a need to keep everything. We also want less stuff, and more time. Living more simply doesn’t have to fit anyone else’s definition, other than what works for your family. We are gaining a new perspective on life, and in the process living a sweeter life. I hope you will consider how it might change something in your own life.
I hope you will find that living simply, is much sweeter.