A Future of More With Less
Around new years I see articles and interviews about planning for the future. Resolutions, reasonable goals and the preparations needed to have everything we dreamed of having before. What about the idea of having less, for more fullness of life in the new year?
Having Less (things)
I recently watched an excellent documentary on Netflix called “The Minimalists“. It explores the lives and mindset of individuals who practice “minimalism”. Click HERE for a definition of this term from the guys featured in the film. Although their paths to (intentional/deliberate) minimalism are varied they all reached a conclusion having fewer things was an important part of improving their lives. For some, the death of a close family member that they never seemed to have time to visit. For others, a meteoric rise to financial success. Then finding only emptiness and loneliness at the destination they had dreamed of reaching all their life. These individuals started making choices to intentionally have less an consume less.
Having less (control)
I LOVE to have control. I’m not talking about self-control that allows me to say “no” to unhealthy behaviors or choices. (that is a good one to have) I mean dictator level of control over myself (my emotions primarily) and upon closer look, I also want control over the way others think and feel about me. If I believe someone doesn’t like me or approve of me to the degree I want them to, I find myself motivated to take action. Willing to sacrifice my spare time, my own emotional well being and self-respect in an effort to manipulate and control their emotions to the status I WANT them to have. It’s important that I make intentional choices to allow others to think and feel what they want. This allows me to focus on being responsible with and for my own emotions. It’s a huge relief to not feel obligated to (take care) of everyone else’s needs while overlooking my own.
Having more (freedom)
Having fewer physical possessions and fewer financial obligations = having more freedom. Specifically, freedom of how to spend my time. When there is less financial pressure, working overtime may not look as appealing as spending time attending a favorite concert, taking a walk in the park, or reading a book? The list could go on and on. In my own life, my choice to have less financially and materially resulted in much more fullness relationally. And much less stress trying to think of ways to earn more to pay for all the “extra’s”. The people interviewed in “The Minimalists” benefited in similar ways. More time for family, less stress, less harmful impact on the earth (pollution/consumption) and a changed perspective on what they value most in life.
Having more (peace)
I am learning how to surrender control and understand what things around me I have no power to change. While taking these steps I am finding more peace in my life. I am also amazed at how much easier it is to forgive others and accept their choices when I stop trying to take responsibility for how they will react to something I say, do, or do NOT do. I”m certainly not advocating being a jerk towards others, or being inconsiderate. Think of the old teaching of Jesus known as the Golden Rule”Treat others as you want them to treat you”. At the same moment, I am not obligated to do everything the way someone else (or a society) expects me to. Realizing what I am responsible for and what I am not, also helps me steer clear of unhealthy/unfair feelings of guilt that others may try to send my way if I make a choice that they do not agree with.
I am aware of some changes I could make in my life to better my future. But being aware isn’t the same as realizing change. Intentional living, deliberate choices, and sensitivity to moments of clarity and inspiration. Learning to respect moments of truth in my life and take action towards them has proven to be one of the biggest challenges! I’m looking forward to a future with less. Fewer things, less pressure, less stress. I’d appreciate any feedback or comments about how you have managed to cut back to have a more fulfilling life!