I have always been fascinated with the “monk lifestyle,” as I find great inspiration in the simplicity of their lives, the concentration and mindfulness of every activity, and the calm and peace they find in their days.
There is little in a monk’s life that is not necessary, which serves as a reminder to me and perhaps you that much in our lives is arguably unnecessary. In his enlightening book, “Paul: A Man of Grace and Grit,” Charles Swindoll, said something that hit a chord with me even though it was so simple, but yet so profound: “The only way to focus on the important things is to reduce the things that are not important.” Shortly after finishing Mr. Swindoll’s book, I added another paperback to my library, “Goodbye, Things: The New Japanese Minimalism” by Fumio Sasaki, which put me on the path of saying goodbye to almost all my things and, to my surprise, I found I had also changed myself in the process.
For the past several years, I wanted to live a more simple and uncomplicated life. Given the amount of time and energy to maintain and manage all of “my stuff,” I often wondered if I truly owned my possessions or did my possessions own me! Accumulating more was not liberating to say the least. In fact, I became a slave to my belongings. From the encouragement of Mr. Sasaki, I commenced on a “minimalist” approach to living. To my surprise, when I discarded something, my initial feeling was regret but, over time, I felt more liberated! In hindsight, I actually gained more than I lost! Thus, my mantra is gaining by losing and losing by gaining, as there is an invigorating feeling that comes with decluttering and minimizing.
When we become a minimalist, we free ourselves from all the materialist messages that surround us, and subsequently spend less time distracted by advertisements, which allows us to adhere to the wisdom of Christian pastor, author and educator, Charles Swindoll, mentioned above. Maybe most importantly, I suggest that many of us argue that they do not fall prey to the “keeping up with the Joneses” phenomenon, but comparing ourselves to others is common place in society, which is arguably one of the fastest ways to take the fun out of life! Therefore, when we say goodbye to unnecessary things, we also say farewell to the process of competing, consciously or unconsciously with others.
Becoming a minimalist was not easy for me, as I found and still find that it is amazingly difficult to sell, discard, or give away my things. However, Mr. Sasaki is spot on when he said, “You will not regret a single item that you throw away.” Yep! So true!
As much as I believe that minimalism = freedom and the sooner one experiences it, the better, I trust that people know what is best for them, so I do not judge or label anyone that does not adhere to my new-found approach to living. Nevertheless, there is happiness in having less and I proved it, at least to myself. I call it simple living.
Harry Pappas Jr. CFP®
Master of Science Degree Personal Financial Planning
Certified Estate & Trust Specialist ™
Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™
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