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2018-01-21T10:31:02.477Z
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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...

Recently, a mentor was asking me some questions about life:

  • What is going well for you?
  • What areas seem to be a struggle for you?
  • What is something you have learned lately?

Eventually, he asked me a question I wasn’t expecting:

  • What do you need right now?

The question caught me entirely off guard. But almost immediately, I was surprised by both its simplicity and its depth.

Before going any further, I’d like you to answer the question for yourself: What do you need right now?

Go ahead, take your time, I didn’t have a quick answer either, I’ll wait… What do you need right now?

As I considered the question and weighed my response, I was struck by the blessed reality that this was not an easy question for me to answer.

I assume, if my most basic needs were not being met, this would be an easier question to answer: I need food, I need shelter, I need a warmer jacket, I need money for my overdue rent, I need a cure for my illness… The fact that none of these statements immediately surfaced in my mind is a reality that I did not want to overlook in that moment.

Equally so, my mind did not race to a vacuum in my relationships. I did not immediately declare: I need a spouse, a loving dad, an engaged father for my children, or my child to begin making wiser decisions with the direction of...

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.

My Year of No Shopping | The New York Times by Ann Patchett. If you stop thinking about what you might want, it’s a whole lot easier to see what other people don’t have. There’s a reason that just about every religion regards material belongings as an impediment to peace.

10 Things You Should Throw Away Before 2018 | Refinery 29 by Venus Wong. The best way to usher in fresh and better things in the new year is to make room by purging your home of all the unwanted mess that’s been taking up space in the past 12 months.

Lessons I’ve Learned From Being On A Budget and Fighting Consumerism | AntiConsumption. After living on a budget now for almost two years, I can honestly say that I like it.  It has taught me a lot and my family is much happier now.

6 Tips to Keep Your Resolution to Declutter | Webinar by Joshua Becker....

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 January Edition.

If you want 2018 to be the year you declutter your home, own less, and get ahead financially, registration is only open for the next 9 days—ending January 7.

The program includes videos, interviews, live webinars, live Q&A’s, helpful articles, weekly challenges, accountability, and 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 extra 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 Facebook group and with me during live webinars and live question and answer opportunities each month.

The...

A special thanks to each of you for making 2017 such an enjoyable year at Becoming Minimalist. This website continues to reach people beyond my wildest dreams as we grow every year in new and unbelievable ways. As before, this growth has occurred entirely from the support of readers like you—thank you for helping to spread the inspiration.

Thank you for sharing this website. But even more, thank you for sharing the life-giving message of owning less.

Here are some numeric representations of our growth:

  • Becoming Minimalist reaches 1.1M unique visitors/month.
  • Our Facebook group grew from 560,000 to 855,000 followers.
  • Twitter followers increased from 44,000 to 56,000.
  • 120,000 people currently receive Becoming Minimalist posts via email. Sign-up here to do the same.
  • In December, our book Simplify was again named a Wall Street Journal Bestseller—almost 8 years after it was first released.

But some of our most significant successes this past year are not found in the numbers above:

  • The Hope Effect, our non-profit continued to change how the world cares for orphans completing construction on its first family-based home in Honduras and opening our first International office in Mexico. To date, we have raised over $400,000 for family-based orphan care around the world.
  • I launched a magazine called Simplify MagazineIt is a quarterly, digital publication designed to help families focus on the things that matter most. Each issue centers on one specific topic and gathers experts to dive deep into it. The...

If I recall correctly, I first met Courtney Carver almost seven years ago. I started Becoming Minimalist back in 2008, she started Be More with Less in 2010. Our first conversation happened over Skype. Almost immediately, we became friends as both our values and passions aligned so significantly.

Since then, I have talked to Courtney countless times. We have shared the same stage multiple times. Our families have dined together. We have shared our blogs and our writing with one other. And we’ve gotten together to talk and catch up on life whenever geography permits. I couldn’t possibly be a bigger fan.

For that reason, when I heard her book, Soulful Simplicity: How Living with Less Can Lead to So Much More would be releasing this Christmas season, I couldn’t wait to share it with each of you. I’ve read the book and thoroughly enjoyed it—even learning more about Courtney’s journey to simplicity than I knew before.

I talked to Courtney last week and asked her to tell us a little more about the book. Here’s the interview:

1. I’d like to start with this question. After blogging for more than seven years, can you tell me why you decided to write a book? After writing on your blog for so long, what does the book format provide?

For starters,...

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.

If You Own One Thing in the World, Let It Be This | No Sidebar by Kerry Ogden. Minimalism is less about the quantity of items you have than it is the quality of life you create.

Being Debt-Free for the Holidays is a Feeling You Can’t Buy in a Store | The Washington Post* by Michelle Singletary. If someone close to you adores giving gifts and you know he or she may be struggling financially, let the person know you’re good this year and that you don’t want anything.

8 Simple Steps You Can Take To Make Your Lifestyle More Minimalist | This is Insider by Lindsay Mack. Owning less stuff can be daunting at first but it can...

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Annie Raser-Rowland of The Art of Frugal Hedonism.

If you are reading this blog, it is almost certain that you, like me, live in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, in an age of material convenience and luxury unimaginable to 99% of the humans who have come before us.

We should be ecstatic. But most us aren’t. We are clearly doing a Very Poor Job of turning our historically-unprecedented wealth into happiness.

Where did we go wrong? And is there a way to grab the reins back and gallop into the golden meadows of contentment you’d think such a lucky society would be frolicking in?

Answering this question was the motivation behind writing The Art of Frugal Hedonism: A Guide to Spending Less While Enjoying Everything More.

Now, before you protest that ‘Frugal Hedonism’ is surely a contradiction in terms, read on.

For most of our species’ time on this planet, we’ve suffered from being too cold, too hungry, and having to work too hard to meet basic needs. We’ve had millennia to become programmed to always consume whatever we can get our hands on—because tougher times could be lurking around the corner. But now we’ve carried that programming into an age where there is so much for us to...

Did you know too many toys in a play environment can have adverse effects on children?

I have written previously on this topic, based on research from 1999. But a new study, being released early next year, confirms the original findings and continues to expand on its conclusions.

Researchers from the University of Toledo have just published a study in The Journal of Infant Behavior and Development called, “The Influence of the Number of Toys in the Environment on Toddler’s Play.” The research is important.

According to their study, young children who play in environments with fewer toys tend to display sustained levels of attention, increased imagination, perception, cognition, and motor coordination.

In their words, “fewer toys may allow for deeper, sophisticated play, because of the opportunity to become creative with each object in the environment.” Too many toys, on the other hand, act as a distraction to focused play.

The researchers point out why this finding is so important. Through play, children learn to interpret the world around them, enhancing their development. As cognitive, language, and motor skills develop, these skills form the foundation for more age-appropriate tasks in the future.

In their study, children were provided extended play time in environments that contained four toys, and environments that contained...

As told by Nancy W. Gavin.

It’s just a small, white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past ten years or so.

It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas–oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it–overspending… the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma—the gifts given in desperation because you couldn’t think of anything else.

Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way.

Our son Kevin, who was 12 that year, was wrestling at the junior level at the school he attended; and shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an inner-city church. These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in their spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes.

As the match began, I was alarmed to see...

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.

Why You Shouldn’t Give Gifts To Adults | USA Today by N’dea Yancey-Bragg. Eschewing gift-giving doesn’t make you a Grinch, some say — it might make you more of a savvy Santa. Here are reasons not to buy gifts and what to do instead.

Our Family Of 4 Downsized To A 200-Square-Foot Home | Scary Mommy by Brynn Burger. Tiny living has given us permission to say yes to what matters to us and to say no to what we just no longer have space for anymore.

An alarming number of shoppers are still paying off debt from last Christmas | CNBC by Emmie Martin. Create a budget this holiday season. And then stick to it.

The White Envelope | Becoming Minimalist by Nancy W. Gavin. Holiday inspiration for your reading pleasure.

Issue 003: Stress and Overwhelm | Simplify Magazine. The most recent issue of Simplify...

I was once told by a mentor, “Each of us are living in the midst of a trial, have just emerged from one, or are heading toward another.”

It is phrasing similar to another oft-quoted truth, “Be kind to everyone you meet. You never know what battle they are fighting.”

There is truth in this statement. But it is particularly enhanced during the holiday season when loss, of every kind, is magnified.

So be kind to one another out there.

But I want to approach this conversation from a slightly different angle. With all the weight and burden that each of us already carry in life, why would we ever choose to intentionally carry more?

Just consider all the things that weigh down our hearts and lives: death, loss, illness, worry, politics, financial hardships, grief, guilt, marital tension, traumatic events. Each a weight that we carry on our shoulders.

Many of these burdens are inevitable and entirely outside our realm of control. Regardless of their origin, we carry them—each of us, on a daily basis.

No wonder, in a recent survey when children were asked, “If you were granted one wish about your parents, what would it be?” The kids’ number one wish was that their parents were less tired and less stressed.

Life is not easy. It never has been and was never promised to be. And in our new society defined by instantaneous social sharing, not only do...

Practical and to the point. Half way through this book we began cleaning out our cars, then our dresser, and now our closets. Very motivating.” —Jane Mayer

Six years ago, we released Simplify: 7 Guiding Principles to Help Anyone Declutter Their Home and Life on the Amazon Kindle.

By the end of the day, it was the #1 Self-Help book on Amazon. The book has sold more than 200,000 copies and has changed countless lives. Even today, it continues to inspire more and more people to live a better life by owning fewer possessions.

Simplify provides the motivation and practical help to encourage others to simplify their home and declutter their possessions. It argues we find more life by owning less. We can discover more time, energy, and finances to pursue our greatest passions. And we begin to experience a greater sense of freedom.

Simplify retells our personal story of finding minimalism and the most important lessons we learned during the journey. It invites its readers to discover a new life-giving truth: There is more joy to be found in owning less than we can ever discover in pursuing more. And it will likely change the way you view possessions forever.

I am pleased to announce Amazon has selected the book as its Kindle Deal of the Day for Cyber Monday, 2017.

That means, today only, you can purchase our best-selling book, Simplify: 7 Guiding Principles to Help Anyone Declutter Their Home and Life...

A blank page.

Every Black Friday, I wake up early to write. It’s tradition for me now. Here are some of the articles I have written on Black Friday morning:

Sitting down to write on Black Friday is now one of my favorite holiday traditions.

I never begin the day with an agenda and I have no predetermined topic in mind. Yesterday was Thanksgiving in America—a day for family and gratitude. The juxtaposition of Thanksgiving on Thursday and Black Friday immediately following speaks volumes about our culture. And I try to let the morning quietly speak to me.

So here I sit, with nothing but a blank page in front of me.

My writing tradition stems from my previous ritual of getting up early on Black Friday for shopping. I used to thoroughly enjoy the hunt—thumbing through Black Friday ads on Thanksgiving morning, mapping out stores and deals later that evening. I don’t ever recall getting up early on Black Friday to purchase Christmas gifts for loved ones, only to rush out and purchase something for myself—a television, a computer, a video game system. I had a plan, something I thought I wanted, and an alarm clock to wake me up.

I discovered minimalism in May of 2008. And over the course of the last...

Holidays are holidays and traditions are traditions.

But traditions are not the holiday. And this is an important distinction.

Traditions help us celebrate and honor recurring events in our lives. Whether we are setting aside a day for gratitude or setting aside an entire season to celebrate faith, family, or both. Traditions should draw our attention to the underlying reason for the season.

Traditions should not detract from the season, they should elevate it.

Maybe Rachel Jonat said it best, “We don’t have to continue holiday traditions that leave us broke, overwhelmed, and tired.”

This is an important truth and paradigm-shifting realization. If a tradition is not serving us and enhancing our family’s enjoyment of a holiday, there is no reason to continue it. Traditions that leave us tired, broke, or stressed should be ended.

This may be only a minor point, except it seems many of our most culturally-accepted traditions have become more of a burden than a blessing.

For example:

Nearly 7 in 10 Americans (69%) said they would skip exchanging gifts this holiday season if their friends and family agreed to it.

A majority of those who spend time buying or making gifts (60%) said they would spend more time with friends and family if they didn’t have to worry about gifts.

43% of those who spend money on anything related to the holidays said they feel pressured to spend more than...

Very few people, if you were to sit across from them over coffee, would proclaim that owning everything in the world is their greatest goal in life.

Most people would answer quite differently.

When you engage in heartfelt conversations and ask people what they want to accomplish in life, most speak of love, relationships, impact, and significance. They desire to live meaningful lives, close to the people they love the most. Many speak of faith. Or they talk about solving important problems. But very few proudly declare, “I just want to make as much money and own as much stuff as I possibly can.”

Our hearts speak of something greater, more fulfilling, and longer lasting.

I bet yours does too.

And yet, too often it seems, we trade our heart’s greatest pursuits and greatest passions for the temporal possessions of this world.

I once had dinner with a man who mentors outgoing CEO’s and corporate executives in the Pacific Northwest. I asked him about his work and how he got started in it. He told me, “Joshua, I had a surprising number of retiring executives come to me and say something along the lines of, ‘I feel like I wasted my life.’”

He went on to tell me more. That these men and women had spent their lives investing into and building companies that were successful by almost every standard of measurement. But at the end, the only question they...

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.

What I’ve Learned After One Year of Tiny House Living | Love Liberty Shelter by Liberty. The truth is, this past year of tiny house living has packed quite a punch in surprise, discomfort, upending old notions . . . and somehow, it has also ushered in a new breakthrough in living.

I Wore a Black Dress Every Day For a Week — And It Changed How I Look At My Closet | This Is Insider by Lindsay Mack. The basic idea is that uniforms allow you to spend less time and effort putting together outfits, so you have more resources for the other areas in your life.

To Cure Affluenza, We Have To Be Satisfied With The Stuff We Already Own | The Guardian by Richard Denniss. We have been trained to love the thrill of buying new stuff. We love things not for their material function, but for the symbolic act of acquiring and possessing them.

Wellbeing Enhanced More By Places Than Objects, Study Finds | The Guardian...

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Krista O’Reilly-Davi-Digui of A Life in Progress.

We are afraid to let go for different reasons.

For one daughter of mine, her eclectic collection of books helps inform her identity. My husband, on the other hand, grew up in poverty and fear of lack can compel him to gather and hoard. Personally, I find myself afraid to let go because I struggle to trust that there is yet more goodness and beauty to come my way.

But I know I must let go of what was to make space for what will be.

Organization and order come naturally to me. I maintain a minimalist wardrobe, resist the pull of busy, and release habits or belongings that no longer merit space in my life. My challenge with letting go is emotional, not physical.

As I give away the favorite storybooks and games and buckets of Legos that marked my years as mama of little people, what I’m really letting go of is a beautiful season of life where I knew my role, was good at it, and felt needed. That was my dream—to build a nest and raise family. As my kids grow up and leave home, I’m shocked at the unexpected grief mixed with hope. Sometimes I...

The term, Baader-Meinhof, refers to the phenomenon when you are introduced to a new idea and suddenly start seeing it everywhere you look. Frequency Illusion is another phrase used to explain the cognitive bias.

For example, you have no idea so many people are playing Settlers of Catan until your friend introduces you to the game. Once he does, you start noticing people talking about it everywhere you look. Or you don’t notice the number of Jeeps being driven on the road until you start driving one yourself.

This is one of the reasons you keep hearing about minimalism. A phrase you knew little about… until you were introduced to it… and now you are pleasantly surprised to see the word being talked about everywhere… even among some of your friends.

Let’s talk about that for a minute. Other than the phenomenon of frequency illusion, why are we seeing minimalism used more and more?

Ten years ago, I was introduced to minimalism by my neighbor. It was a short conversation that took place after a long morning of cleaning out my garage. After listening to a few sentences of me complain, my neighbor responded, “Yeah, that’s why my daughter is a minimalist. She keeps telling me I don’t need to own all this stuff.”

Those two short sentences changed the course of my life forever.

When I first heard the word “minimalism,” I searched for the phrase...

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.

‘I could live simpler’: Floods and fires make Americans rethink their love affair with stuff | Washington Post* by Lisa Bonos and Jura Koncius. “I think the coverage has affected people. It reminds them to think, ‘What do I have in my house and how would I gather those things and put them in my car and leave?’ ”

Lowering Your Life’s Requirements | Mnmlist by Leo Babauta. When something becomes a need, a requirement, it locks us in. We have to have it, which means we start structuring our lives around it.

Understanding The Marginal Utility of New Gadgets | Simple Living Daily by James. I used to be a big sucker for new electronics…

Albert Einstein’s Theory of Happiness Sold For $1.5m | The Independent by Maya Oppenheim.  “A quiet and modest life brings more joy than a pursuit of success bound with constant unrest.” —Albert Einstein

Fall Wardrobe Challenge: 10 Pieces, 10 Outfits, 10 Days |