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2018-04-26T07:55:03.757Z
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{"feed":"Becoming-Minimalist","feedTitle":"Becoming Minimalist","feedLink":"/feed/Becoming-Minimalist","catTitle":"Lifestyle","catLink":"/cat/lifestyle"}

I have significantly less stress in my life and more self-control. Most importantly, I’m becoming more like the mom and wife I want to be. — Caryn Seney

Uncluttered

Uncluttered is a 12-week online course designed intentionally to help you own less, live more, and discover the life you’ve always wanted.

We offer the course only three times each year. And today, we are launching the Spring Edition.

If you want 2018 to be the year you declutter your home, own less, and get ahead financially, this is the right program for you.

The course includes…

  • Videos with step-by-step instructions
  • Interviews with thought leaders in productivity and minimalism
  • Live webinars tackling specific tough-clutter topics
  • Live Q&As for members to ask questions
  • Weekly challenges
  • And perhaps best of all: accountability and encouragement from a super-engaged community.

If you are drawn to the idea of owning less, but need some extra help getting there, this course is perfect for you. Uncluttered will provide just the motivation you need to declutter your home and start living a better life. By the end, you will have decluttered every major living area in your home and begun changing your spending habits.

Every Monday, you will receive a video from me, an exclusive interview with one of the brightest minds in the simplicity movement, and/or written content prepared exclusively for the course. You will receive a weekly challenge to complete. And opportunities to engage with the community in a private...

Minimalists come in all sizes, ages, genders, races, nationalities, social classes, and religions. It is a growing movement that continues to invite others to live with less and define their lives in greater ways than by the things they own. Yet despite its recent growth, it continues to be misunderstood by a percentage of the population.

With that in mind, I think it would be wise to personally address some of the common misconceptions about minimalism in case you are thinking any of them.

Minimalists Are Boring

A minimalist life is not void of excitement or entertainment. In fact, minimalism reduces many of the mundane tasks (organizing, shopping, cleaning) that rob us of daily excitement. And when unnecessary possessions have been removed, minimalists are free to choose for themselves what things will define their lives.

Some will choose to travel the world, find a new hobby, appreciate nature, get involved in their community, or spend more time with friends.

Minimalists Don’t Own Nice Things

Actually, one of the greatest unforeseen benefits of owning less is the opportunity to purchase possessions of higher quality. For some reason, many people don’t correlate owning fewer things with owning nicer things. But the truth is, they go hand in hand and are directly related.

When a commitment is made to buy fewer things, our lives are opened to the opportunity of owning nicer things as well. In fact, one of the key thoughts behind minimalism is...

I’m sitting down to write these words on a Monday morning after a great workout at my local Planet Fitness. A great workout that I will credit almost fully to a conversation from yesterday. More on that in a moment.

I’ve just completed the manuscript for a new book, The Minimalist Home: A Room-by-Room Guide to a Decluttered, Refocused Life.

I share this next fact with friends, but haven’t really shared it publicly. Writing books is difficult for me. Granted, the books turn out great because of fantastic editors and collaborators. But personally, it’s really hard. In fact, every time I’ve written a book, I’ve gained 15 lbs. during the process. I sit too much, snack too often, and eat too unhealthily (the stress isn’t helpful either).

Since finishing the book a month ago (it releases in December), I’ve been concentrating on my physical health—eating better and exercising more.

Yesterday (Sunday morning), I spoke at a church here in Phoenix, AZ on the connection between minimalism and self-control. You can watch it here. I spoke several times and the day was long. As a result, I didn’t necessarily want to get up early on Monday to hit the gym… except something that a friend said to me at church kept ringing in my mind.

“Wow, you’re looking fit,” was his comment to me almost in passing.

It was a short sentence. And I quickly changed the subject. But...

Never underestimate the importance of removing stuff you don’t need.

Encouragement provides us with motivation to persevere. It invites us to dream dreams of significance for our lives. And it begs us to work diligently with optimism and promise.

Overcoming the pull of consumerism is a difficult challenge regardless of our stage in life. Simplicity requires encouragement. To that end, I hope you will find motivation in these articles below.

Each post was intentionally chosen to inspire simplicity in your life. For maximum effect, find a quiet moment this weekend and enjoy them with a fresh cup of coffee or tea.

How Minimalism With a Family is Possible (& Life-Changing!) | Wellness Mama by Wellness Mama. If minimalism with a family seems impossible, here’s a thought: don’t families with kids need it more than anyone else?

Save Money and Reset Your Financial Life With a Shopping Ban | The New York Times by Susan Shain. A shopping ban is not necessarily a renouncement of worldly possessions or a declaration that buying stuff is bad; it’s a pause that helps you establish your priorities.

Self-storage: How Warehouses For Personal Junk Became a $38 Billion Industry | Curbed by Patrick Sisson. One in 11 Americans pays for space to store the material overflow of the American dream.

Bye-Bye Stuff, Hello Minimalism | The Medium by Ye Chen. I used to think that the more I have, the happier I will be. I bought a lot...

For some, the hardest item to declutter is books. But one of the most common questions I get asked is, “Where can I donate my used books?”

It’s an interesting paradox when you think about it. But the struggle and the question are probably related. Books are an important part of our lives. When we decide it’s time to part with them, we want to know they are going to a nice home where they can continue to enrich and improve other people’s lives.

In order to provide a thoughtful and thorough answer to the question above, I’ve spent time researching the most current and up-to-date places to donate your lightly-used books.

Here’s a list of 20 places to donate used books:

1. The Salvation Army. The Salvation Army is one of the world’s largest providers of social aid. Proceeds from their stores are used to fund Adult Rehabilitation Centers, where those in the grip of addiction find help, hope, and a second chance at life. Find a location near you.

2. Goodwill. Goodwill is a nonprofit organization that provides job training, employment placement services, and other community-based programs for people who have barriers preventing them from otherwise obtaining a job. They are often conveniently located.

3. Local Libraries. As with most places on this list, it is wise and courteous to call in advance for specifics on current needs....

Recently, I spent a week with my family in Costa Rica. There is much to see and do in that beautiful country. And both my kids (11 and 15) thoroughly enjoyed it.

One afternoon, we went on a boat ride to watch dolphins, witness the sunset, and enjoy dinner out on the ocean.

As part of the tour, at one scenic stop, the boat anchored and the captain invited everyone to disembark for snorkeling and/or swimming. Like I said… there is a lot to do in Costa Rica.

In addition to snorkeling, the captain invited people to jump off the top deck of the catamaran into the ocean if they wanted. As you might imagine, the teenage boys and young adults were the first to attempt the high dive into the water below. Some needed a little peer pressure, but most of the young men were more than happy to jump (and impress the girl they brought with them).

While anchored, I looked around at the other participants on the tour and began noticing for the first time the wide range of ages represented. There were many elderly people wearing regular clothes, enjoying the scenery, but with clearly no intention of getting off to swim or snorkel, much less jump 25 feet off the top of the boat.

There were also a number of young children onboard. Each of them got off the boat for snorkeling and swimming,...

Fill your life with stories to tell, not stuff to show.

The simplicity/minimalism movement is a beautiful community. And I enjoy any opportunity to promote writing that encourages people to live more by owning less.

So fix yourself a nice warm cup of coffee or tea. Find a quiet moment this weekend. And enjoy some encouraging words to inspire more simplicity in your life today.

I Was A Multimillionaire – Then I Gave My Fortune Away | Positive News by Dariel Garner. I never thought of wealth as an addiction.

We Went to a Goodwill Store and Saw How It’s ‘Overrun’ with Stuff Millennials and Gen Xers Refuse to Take From Their Parents | Business Insider by Mary Hanbury. Young people are scaling back on what they need. This has led to a generation of consumers who donate, and thrift stores like Goodwill are the biggest beneficiaries.

4 Things We Think We Need Today that Won’t Matter at All in the Long Run | Marc and Angel Hack Life by Marc Chernoff. Do more than just exist. We all exist. The question is: Are you living?

With Deceptive ‘Discounts,’ Retailers Are Manipulating Us To Spend More. Here Are The Worst Offenders. | The Washington Post* by Kevin Brasler. Many of these claims aren’t really discounts at all, but attempts to mislead.

How to Cut Down on Unwanted Junk Mail | The New York Times by Whitson...

I majored both in Banking and Finance from the University of Nebraska. (I don’t talk much about it as my career took a different route shortly after graduation.)

And yet, despite having a college degree in money, I lived most of my life with financial discontent, always surviving paycheck-to-paycheck, despite several pay increases early in my marriage.

When more money came in, more money went out. My credit card statement seemed to often be simply a mirror of my paycheck.

As the cycle continued year after year, I found less opportunity to blame my financial stress on an entry-level income. Sure, money is tight when you’re just starting out. But at some point, the reality of my financial pinch had to be blamed on me—not employers, not rising housing costs, not previous generations, not failed political leadership.

I was solely responsible for my financial well-being. And clearly, my existing habits were not working. If I was ever to get ahead, something would need to change.

There are, of course, only two possible remedies for an unsustainable financial situation: 1) Either you make more money or 2) You spend less.

Most of us automatically assume the former is the key to improvement. If we could make more money, we’d get ahead financially. And while there is some truth hidden in that statement, I stand as proof that’s not always the case. Maybe you do too.

I would like to submit that...

In my mind growing up, the idea of fasting was always tied to food. My Catholic friends would fast during Lent—the 40 days leading up to Easter—by not eating meat on Fridays. While my family never observed Lent in the traditional sense, I was still encouraged to consider fasting from food as a spiritual discipline by abstaining from eating for 24 hours as a means to focus more attentively on God.

In many ways, my views on fasting have not changed. I still see spiritual value in removing food for a period of 24 hours. The practice does indeed heighten awareness of spiritual matters.

And nothing I write beyond this point is meant to take away from that practice or the spiritual benefits of it. I only mean to add to it.

You see, as I have matured in my life (and my spirituality), I have begun to recognize additional value in the discipline of fasting. Moving beyond abstaining from food, I have also learned to appreciate the benefits of fasting from almost anything in moderation.

Fasting, it seems to me, is ultimately about self-control. It is about the intentional removal of one, external controlling factor in our lives for a period of time. It is an exercise in self-control. And self-control holds benefit for all—regardless of our faith or nonfaith preferences.

In college, for the first time, I set out to give up one “controlling factor” in...

There’s more to life than buying stuff.

There are many wonderful people pursuing and promoting simplicity. Fortunately, some of them are gifted in communication and choose to encourage and inspire us with their words. I enjoy reading their unique perspective. I’m sure you will too.

So fix yourself a nice warm cup of coffee or tea on this beautiful weekend. Find a quiet moment. And enjoy some encouraging words about finding more simplicity in your life today.

Extreme Frugality Allowed Me to Regain Control of My Life | The Guardian by Elizabeth Willard Thames. Elizabeth Willard Thames abandoned a successful career in the city and embraced frugality to create a more meaningful life. Here’s her story.

Are Home Renovations Necessary? | Curbed by Kate Wanger. Renovations have become a national pastime, but there is nothing wrong with your house.

The Case For Minimalism | Forbes by Joshua Becker. Owning less offered escape from the clutter in my home. But more than that, it offered escape from the clutter in my life. It reintroduced intentionality and alignment. And it offered the very ideals my heart most desperately desired.

The Pursuit Of Status: How To Avoid Chasing The Wrong Things | Medium by Louis Chew. One seemingly innocent purchase can lead to many bad decisions.

Simplify Magazine: The Declutter Issue. Last summer, I launched an online magazine called Simplify Magazine. Each issue recruits experts to contribute long-form articles addressing...

There are a lot of important questions we ask in life: Who? What? When? Where? How?

But the most important of these is the one we ask the least often: Why?

Granted, why? is the hardest question to answer. But just because it can be difficult to answer doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be asked.

Why? is the question with the most potential and the greatest opportunity to spark new life going forward.

When I first began minimizing and removing possessions from my home, I found myself asking lots of questions: Where should I start? How will I ever get through my entire home? Where should I drop off these items? How will I ever get this old piano out of the basement?

Lots of questions.

However, as the process continued, I began asking myself fewer what?, where?, and how? questions. No longer wondering what process might work best for my family, I began asking myself more difficult questions, including:

Why did I buy all this stuff in the first place?

In the end, it was this question that brought the greatest potential and opportunity into my new life. It was this question of why? that forced me to uncover and evaluate the unseen, unhealthy motivations that were contributing to my over-accumulation in the first place. Once I knew them, I was better equipped to overcome them.

That’s what makes this question so important. Why? forces us to stand face-to-face with questions of motivation...

People have set out to more remote places of the world, built homes of their own, and lived off the land. They’ve followed the sun—up at dawn, sleep at dark.

Our ancestors lived simply, by default.

Nowadays, however, it’s more difficult to live this way in a time of great technological advancement. People are looking for a more simplified life, but without wholly removing themselves from the world around them—their friends, family, workplaces, and devices.

Amidst material abundance and availability, our lives can sometimes look quite foreign from the homesteaders of the past.

Today, intentional living is even more necessary. And in a world of increasing complexity, it is becoming more and more desired.

Here are Five Truths You Can Use to Save Money and Live Simply:

1. You can’t take it with you.

You’ve probably heard the truism “you can’t take it with you.” Or, perhaps you’ve heard it as “you only live once” or “you never see a U-Haul behind a hearse.” These phrases suggest that you should spend your money with an eye on the inevitably of death—because you could be gone tomorrow.

Let’s consider how we can use these statements to live simply.

If we cannot take something with us, should we lust after it? Should we go into debt to buy it? Should we spend countless hours maintaining it?

To live simply, we should adopt a rental philosophy for the goods we purchase. From this standpoint, we are...

Ten years ago, our lives changed dramatically. The realization that our possessions were actually distracting us from a life of joy and purpose and fulfillment became the motivation to pursue minimalism in our home.

As our family of four began removing nonessential possessions, we soon discovered more time and energy and focus for the things that matter most. And we discovered that our things had become a far greater burden than we’d ever realized.

We also began to discover that many of our thoughts concerning physical possessions were incorrect. These faulty mindsets were contributing to our over-accumulation and cluttered lifestyles. Slowly, but surely, our approach to possessions began to change as we experienced more and more the benefits of owning less.

If your family struggles with owning too much, consider these seven life-changing perspectives to help overcome your family’s obsession with stuff:

1. Owning fewer toys is actually better for your kids.

Parents want what’s best for their children. But often times, our desire to help them learn and develop results in the over-accumulation of toys. Did you know the research says the exact opposite? According to almost every scientific study on the issue, fewer toys will actually benefit your kids more. Here’s a recent one: owning fewer toys will result in deeper, more creative play for your kids—along with a whole bunch of other healthier lifestyle habits.

2. Buying more hobby supplies will not help you enjoy...

Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it. It requires a conscious decision because it is a countercultural lifestyle that stands against the culture of overconsumption that surrounds us.

The world we live in is not friendly to the pursuit of minimalism. Its tendencies and relentless advertising campaigns call us to acquire more, better, faster, and newer. The journey of finding simplicity requires consistent inspiration.

For that reason, I hope you will make an effort this weekend to find a quiet moment with a cup of coffee or tea and enjoy some of these hand-picked articles to encourage more simplicity in your life.

The Tyranny of Convenience | The New York Times by Tim Wu. We must never forget the joy of doing something slow and something difficult, the satisfaction of not doing what is easiest.

Embrace Anti-Consumerism and Feel Like a Millionaire After 60 | Sixty + Me by Elizabeth Dunkel. Consumerism is trying to part you with your money.

Digital Clutter: Konmari Your Way to E-Freedom | Mavericks Digital by Jessica Zoo Christensen. Here are some of the best digital-minimising steps I have taken to re-gain balance and control over my digital devices.

A Minimalist Movement Takes Root in Singapore | The Business Times by Helmi Yusuf. “It’s definitely a movement that has gained traction among millennials like us who,...

Technology changes fast. And new advancements are announced with great fanfare. The promise of changing how we interact with the world is just as standard on new technological devices as a power-on button. This promise sounds good to us. And so we buy and buy these devices in incredible numbers. Meanwhile, our old devices sit around because we’re not sure what to do with them. Is ever-growing device clutter inevitable?

Experts in the tech world make a distinction between technical obsolescence and functional obsolescence.

Technical obsolescence occurs as soon as your device is surpassed in its features by another device of its type—for example, the maker of your smartphone comes out with a newer model ten months after you bought yours.

Functional obsolescence, on the other hand, occurs only when your device no longer works like it’s supposed to. That happens, for example, when the software it runs ceases to work properly and is no longer supported by the manufacturer.

A lot of us are tempted to buy something new soon after reaching the point of technical obsolescence. If we find out that the cool new gadget we bought last month has been replaced on the market by an even cooler one, then we want that one!

I would argue that we should wait until we get closer to functional obsolescence with our devices. So what if we don’t have the newest thing? Who’s really going to care?

Now,...

Never underestimate the importance of removing stuff you don’t need.

Encouragement provides us with motivation to persevere. It invites us to dream dreams of significance for our lives. And it begs us to work diligently with optimism and promise.

Overcoming the pull of consumerism is a difficult challenge regardless of our stage in life. Simplicity requires encouragement. To that end, I hope you will find motivation in these articles below.

Each post was intentionally chosen to inspire simplicity in your life. For maximum effect, find a quiet moment this weekend and enjoy them with a fresh cup of coffee or tea.

The Death of Clothing | Bloomberg by Lindsey Rupp, Chloe Whiteaker, Matt Townsend and Kim Bhasin. Apparel is being displaced by travel, eating out, and activities—what’s routinely lumped together as experiences.

Seven Things I’d Do Differently If I Got A Minimalist Do-Over | Tiny Ambitions by Brittany Bruce. Now that I’m five years in, I’ve had the chance to reflect. And if I became a minimalist today, there are a few things I would do differently.

Want to Save More Money? Try These Three Financial Fasts | The Washington Post* by Michelle Singletary. I would like to propose three types of financial fasts to help you on your journey to financial freedom: a food fast, a clothing fast, and the 21-day financial fast.

Meet The Woman Who Got Married Without Buying Anything New | CBC Radio with Alexa Carson. Carson’s “Buy Nothing Year”...

I’ve often asked myself why we buy more than we need. I mean, when you really think about it, what would cause us to buy unnecessary things in the first place?

I think there are a number of reasons this is the case—some internally motived and some externally motivated. But one reason we should never overlook is our felt need for security.

Ask yourself, Am I buying too much stuff because deep down I think it will insulate me from the harms of a chancy world? And if so, what is that costing me?

In our society, too many of us believe security can be adequately found in the personal ownership of possessions. Of course there is a grain of truth in that belief. Certainly, food and water, clothing and shelter are essential for survival. But the list of possessions we truly need for life is quite short, and most of us already have these things.

The reality is, we have too quickly confused needs with wants and security with comfort. As a result, many of us collect large stockpiles of possessions in the name of security when we are actually accumulating comfort (or desired pleasure). We work long hours to purchase these things. And we construct bigger and bigger houses to store them.

We dream of a future that includes larger paychecks and sizable savings accounts. We plot and plan to acquire them because we think lasting...

It’s really quite unbelievable to me all the benefits of owning less: more time, more focus, more energy, less stress, less comparison (just to name a few).

There are also overwhelming financial benefits to minimalism. Owning less is a lifestyle that costs less than the constant pursuit of more. For some, this may mean the opportunity to save for the first time. For others, it may result in the opportunity to retire early, travel more, or work less.

For others, it may represent opportunity to get out of debt. Recently, on Twitter, I asked for examples of people who have used minimalism to get out of debt. And I wanted to share some of the stories here—in 280 characters or less.

Fill your life with stories to tell, not stuff to show.

The simplicity/minimalism movement is a beautiful community. And I enjoy any opportunity to promote writing that encourages people to live more by owning less.

So fix yourself a nice warm cup of coffee or tea. Find a quiet moment this weekend. And enjoy some encouraging words to inspire more simplicity in your life today.

I Was Getting Buried in Clutter. Here’s How I Finally Got Free. | The Washington Post* by Valerie Peterson. It might help to look at why we accumulate so much in the first place.

Decluttering Burst: Let Go of 100 Things in Less Than an Hour | Motherly by Courtney Carver. Set your timer for 60 minutes and get rid of 100 things. Here’s how to do it.

A Simple Phrase to Help You Stop Buying Stuff You Don’t Need | Dr. Allison Answers by Dr. Allison Niebes-Davis. I wish I could say that when I started practicing minimalism, I stopped wanting things. What has changed however is my ability to resist the pull to things.

The Pitfalls of Minimalism | Medium by Sílvia Bastos. Minimalism is for you—you just need to make it your own.

Keep Your Head Up: How Smartphone Addiction Kills Manners and Moods | The New York Times* by Adam Popescu. The problem of looking at our devices nonstop is both social and physiological.

*Editor’s note: The Washington Post and The...

This past weekend was 78 degrees and sunny in Phoenix (apologies to friends and family and readers living elsewhere during the winter months). It was also a holiday weekend with schools closed on Monday.

But more important to me, this past Saturday, I drove my 15-year old son to his first official job. He spent 11 hours this weekend reffing games for a local outdoor soccer tournament (holiday weekend, remember).

To me, it looked like a pretty fun experience. Officiating a 4-on-4 soccer match for 7-year old girls isn’t necessarily the pinnacle of stress. But I’m sure he was nervous, nevertheless.

In fact, I know he was nervous. Or at least he was nervous enough to ask me to stick around for his first game.

So I sat down in a chair next to some parents. It was fun watching my son ref. But I had just as much fun observing parents watch their young daughters learn the game of soccer.

Most of the time, they sat quietly in their chairs or they called out instructions, “Go get the ball.” “Kick it the other way.” “Run harder.” You can probably picture it.

Of course, not all parents sat. Some stood. And still others were off pushing a stroller… entertaining a younger sibling…  or throwing the football with an older brother. Lots of young parents, as far as the eye could see, supporting and enjoying their kids.

Watching their faces, I vividly...