How’s it going? I hope you enjoyed reading my last review as much as I did writing it.
Now I’m back in the Low Lands and this means that I might not be able to keep up with posting twice a week. The main goal of enforcing me to read at least one chapter of a book per day still thrives on ‘though! I’ll strive to regularly post even after I start working full-time.
On a different note, I received a few books as graduation presents from relatives. The More of Less was one of them. Initially, I came across the book from a Twitter post. I found the title (and the cover image) compelling, at least compelling enough to be inserted into my wishlist.
What I found most interesting about the book is that it actually is a self-help book, although you’d most likely find it on the home organisation shelf or something similar. It also promises something huge: own less, and be more satisfied.
In the spirit of consumerism and bombarding advertisements, do you really want to promote such idealism? Do you really expect people will buy into your nonsense?
Read on and be the judge.
Title: The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own
Author: Joshua Becker
Categories: Simplicity, Consumption (economics)
A book on minimalism should be minimalist as well, don’t you think? That’s why I will keep my summary to the bare minimum. Becker makes my job easy ‘though: around 50% of the book is built on people’s experiences with minimalism, and it’s not that I don’t value them, but if you want to go through the interesting testimonies, you’ll have to get the book yourself.
I’ll just get to the bottom of it: what is minimalism?
The author uses the following definition:
The intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from them.
Instead of telling you what it is, I’ll tell you what it’s not:
- It’s not giving up everything
- It’s not about a better way of organising
The goal of it is to “unburden our lives so we can accomplish more.” You can define what kind of minimalism you want to pursue: reduce the number of items you currently have by 60% or limit the number of items you own to a reasonable number. Why would you want to pursue minimalism? Because consumerism. Consumerism only promises but never delivers. Your happiness, contentment, security, or acceptance in life is not determined by how many items you own (contrary to the bombarding advertisements). Your happiness is your own decision.
Becker gives a lot of practical tips on how to begin the minimalism journey. First, you need to declare a statement of purpose for your life. What will you pursue after you have successfully decluttered your life? Next, begin the cleaning up with the most familiar area in your life. Here goes another useful suggestion: don’t start with the house, start with the car first. Tackle room by room in your house and classify things to keep, relocate, and remove. Get rid of duplicates, and finally share your story with fellow minimalist hopefuls. Becker also gives examples of stuff that will usually give you a hard time in minimising: books, paper, technology, keepsakes, car, and house.
If you find minimising is too extreme of an action for a first trial, you may want to experiment. Becker advises the reader to create a statement of experiment such as the following:
Experiment: I will live without __________________ (possessions) for ______________ days (or weeks or months)
At the end of that time I will decide either:
[ ] Yes, I can live without those possessions.
[ ] No, I still need them.
Pretty straightforward. A suggested timeframe for an experiment is twenty-nine days (Why? Go read the book). The crown jewel of the book I think resides in Chapter 9, Maintenance Program. There are a chock-full of practical suggestions on how to create habits that sustain minimalism. Samples include:
- Make your bed each morning
- Wash dishes right away
- Keep flat surfaces clear
- Place junk mails immediately into recycling bin
- Limit the number of televisions in your house
- Make your gift requests known early.
- Be patient with our family.
- Practice gratitude as a discipline.
In Chapter 10, Becker sets forth practical advice on how to deal with family members who are yet not willing to take up minimalism. Dealing with your spouse calls for a different measure from dealing with your teenage children. Then he suggests the minimalist family take up generosity. Instead of selling unwanted items, just give them away. He argues that this practice will add joy and contentment to the household. You may start really small, but make sure you give. Set aside X amount of money from your paycheck, divert one specific expense, and spend time with a generous person. Generosity is evidently contagious! Finally, bring it up a notch by not only donating money but also time.
The last two chapters respectively speak about starting an intentional life. You can focus on three areas in your life: your schedules, your bodies, and your relationships. You should reduce the distractions you have and appreciate rest, for instance. In maintaining your well-being, you should watch what you eat and exercise regularly. Finally, never be afraid of parting ways with unhealthy relationships. Every goodbye gives room for a new hello. The last chapter strongly emphasises the point of not settling for less. Take action and become of service to someone else. It’s the ultimate form of minimalism: “emptying” yourself so you can “fill” others.
Pay a visit to the Becoming Minimalist website to find out more on minimalism.
Outlook: The next review (#5) is yet to be decided, but a strong candidate is a book on cyber security.