The Challenge and Joy of Living With Less

The other day I started pondering something that is an age old question.
I have been wondering just because I can do something, does it mean I should? Just because I can buy a shirt in every color and a new iPod and a big flashy car, does it mean that I should?

Is that good for my spirit? Is that who I am or who I want to be? Is that what I want to portray to the world?
Lately I’ve been contemplating stuff, specifically why do we all have so much of it? After pondering some of the above questions, I have been seriously considering taking up the 100 Thing Challenge. The challenge is to live with 100 personal items. I know a lot of people, some even within my own family, may wonder why on earth I’d want to live with 100 or so personal items?
Why would I want to force myself, an American, and thereby, a daughter of affluence, overabundance and plenty, to live that way? To put it bluntly, why would I want less crap?
Well, here’s how I put it in a Facebook status recently, “I’m seriously thinking of taking the 100 Thing Challenge. My spirit is calling me to do it and my stuff is calling me to let it go…”

Sometimes things need to be freed. They need to be pulled out of closets and drawers and dusty attics and musty basements and they need to be let go of. So they can be put to good use in someone’s home that actually needs them and so we can learn to live a life of simplicity and freedom. Freedom not only from things, but from the debt and responsibility that can come with having excess things.
On my downsizing journey, there are some things I will not part with, like antiques that have been in mine or my husbands family for years. The majority of stuff in my house that is not being used is not of any particular importance, not a family heirloom, not a gift from someone I care about, and in most cases is covered in dust from lack of use.

My plan of attack is to start in my closet first. I have decided that first I am whittling my wardrobe down to 100 items. It sounds like a lot, but I live in a climate that has four seasons. When you think about 100 things to cover your body through four seasons, it’s not a whole lot.
After I’ve gotten rid of things I no longer wear or that don’t fit, I’m going to start tackling other personal items, like books, knickknacks and probably my biggest offense, health and beauty products, mainly hair styling products. Gulp. I know I can do this.

The blogosphere is full of people who live with 100 things or less. Honestly, I think one of the major reasons I am so drawn to minimalism and simple living is that it forces you to take a long hard look at yourself, your lifestyle and the society we live in. I feel like I am coming to a moral and ethical crossroads and I couldn’t be happier. I am happy my eyes are opening to a better way to exist.
I certainly don’t have to take this challenge or announce it on my blog and Facebook, but I am doing it to confirm something within myself and to inform the world that I know I don’t need things to be happy, and that I want a life based on experiences and financial freedom, not possessions and debt.

3 thoughts on “The Challenge and Joy of Living With Less

  1. well, i agree with your post. I think alot of people in this day and age, think they have to have stuff. They have to have stuff to be happy. i learned this lesson when we lost our home and had to downsize from a 5 bedroom house to a camper. You would be surprized what you can live without. Things don't make you happy. Solomon proved this. Since Solomon only asked for wisdom, as a gift from God, God gave him wealth beyond belief. 2 Chronicles 1:11-13 says he gave him wealth beyond any king ever, or will ever be. Not only that, but he was King, which meant he never had anyone in the whole world telling him what to do or not to do, so he made his rules, along with had whatever he wanted, and he did alot. He traveled and married many women, and had everything his heart desired, but he with all his wealth and wisdom, said he wasn't happy, and you couldn't find happiness with money. Only with a great relationship with God could you truely be happy.

  2. The thing about “wealth” is that there is more than one way to measure it. Traditionally it is measured in dollars, but there are many other scales. You can be “rich” in ways that have nothing to do with money. For example:
    Rich in friends—A person who cultivates friendships and who is a joy to be around can have hundreds of good friends and can be rich beyond the wildest dreams of others.
    Rich in health—A person who spends time eating right, exercising and relaxing from stress can be extremely healthy, and this health can be far more valuable than any amount of money.
    Rich in strength—A person who works out with weights every day, runs, swims, etc. can be rich in strength and will have an attractive body.
    Rich in family—A person who devotes time to his or her spouse and children will have a strong and happy family that is rewarding throughout life.
    Rich in knowledge—A person who reads and studies will become rich in knowledge.
    Rich in skill—A person who practices anything daily (a skill, a sport, prayer, whatever) will become excellent in that skill area. Excellence has its own rewards.
    Rich in character— A person who works hard at being honest and truthful in all situations will become rich in character and will be trusted by everyone.
    All of these alternative types of wealth are different from financial wealth, and yet all of them can be equally rewarding in their own ways. The point is that the act of buying things by itself, despite what television tells you, may not be what will bring you maximum happiness in life. Things like good friends, a loving spouse, well-raised children, a home built on love, a good relationship with God, a clear conscience, a worthy goal and a job you truly enjoy bring you contentment that lasts and has meaning. These things are often very hard for some teenagers to understand, but as you mature they become more important.

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