5 Surprising Places I Found More Contentment (by living with less)
We recently purchased a new (used) vehicle for our family of four. It was time, our previous hand-me-down car was on its last breath and served us well over the few years we drove it.
In the time since we received a free car from a very generous family member we have become minimalists, so the process of purchasing this new-to-us car was different than previous times we’ve made such a large investment. It felt rather unglamorous and practical, a stark difference from the time we bought a brand new, off the lot car several years ago – when purchasing something new and big and conspicuous was an adrenal shot to our self-worth.
“Are you sure this is what you want?” my husband asked me several times. Not because it’s not a great car at a great price, but because it all seemed too… practical. We were excited, of course, to have a reliable car made in this decade, but we were also very aware of what and why we were buying.
Maybe we are just growing up; finally mature to make adult-like decisions with a cool and calm countenance. Or, perhaps we found something we didn’t have before.
You see, we knew this time we weren’t buying a false sense of confidence. We weren’t exchanging financial stability for a quick rush of adding a new thing to our lives. We were content with what we had, and we are now content with what we were replacing it with.
One of my favorite quotes on minimalism is from Brian Gardner, “Being a minimalist means you value yourself more than material things.” In all the ways I’ve changed since adopting this minimalist lifestyle, buying a car was the biggest test of what I value more – myself or my stuff.
I started thinking about other ways I’ve found more contentment in making my life less flashy, less “look at this thing I have”, and less about the value of things. In making this list I realized how much I used to trade for outward glory, when everything I truly desired was waiting for me in the unglamorous practicality of minimalism.
- Contentment in the Significant Purchases
Like purchasing our new-to-us car, other prospective large purchases are less thrilling for thrills sake, which means we get more use out of what we already own and either save money by not purchasing, or we purchase only within our means and needs.
We nurture a spirit of gratitude, the place where contentment is born.
- Contentment in the Insignificant Purchases
Even the small things that seem to carry little weight can impact our level of contentment. Minimalism revealed significant emotional imbalances through the insignificant things I spent money and time on. New clothes and shoes were quick self-esteem boosters, and social media was a quick dip in the pool of self pity.
I unwittingly purchased discontentment with small amounts of money and time that always added up to more than they were worth.
- Contentment in the Routines
My husband is a Type A personality. He is organized, well-prepared, and studious. He makes lists and can’t sleep till all items are checked off. His tomorrow is planned today and his achievements and degrees and qualifications attest to his focus and determination.
I am not any of those things, naturally. But minimalism is changing that.
I tend to leave a trail of shoes around the house, read four books simultaneously, never actually finish making the to do list, never check off any thing on that list, and write notes on any available piece of paper and scourer the house in search of that really great quote I read the other day.
God bless my husband.
When we took on this minimalist life I quickly discovered that it required a new kind of intentionality. Routines weren’t prisons for free spirits like me; routines are boundaries that lead to freedom.
- Contentment in Parenting
I struggle with maintaining minimalist principles with my kids, because I want my kids to have everything they want. I want them to be happy more than anything in the world. But happy is what life is about when you value things over yourself (or others).
What I really want for my kids is a lasting contentment and true sense of identity. I couldn’t find either of those when my goal was to be merely happy. Happiness is temporal, contentment is eternal.
My kids have toys and fun things which they enjoy, but I’m no longer seeking to fulfill their yearlong Christmas wish list.
Their toys may be less glamorous and fewer than their friends’, but I’m more concerned about their hearts of generosity, gratitude, and deep knowing of their inherent worth apart from their things.
Also, my contentment abounds when there was less to pick up, step on, and fight over.
- Contentment in Identity
We all dream for glory. We desire to be significant, to influence the lives around us, and make our mark on the world. You might not wish to be the next Elon Musk or Beyonce but, I believe, each of us in our community of family and friends desires to know we matter.
That desire might be the reason life has gotten more complicated. A lack of security in our identity may lead us to seek worth in things we buy or do, and our perceived glory is a house of cards. Minimalism unravels those beliefs and weaves truth into the way we see ourselves. If you have the courage to remove your value from the external and restore the value of the internal you don’t need a glamorous life for others to look at. Your identity doesn’t need the help of stuff to shine; it shines brightest on its own.
As we approached the purchase of our car I knew I didn’t need anything more than what we could afford and what worked for my family. My glory doesn’t come from a fancy, oversized, fully equipped ride. Minimalism taught me how to know what I want, where my worth comes from, and that my contentment is found in the simplicity of an unglamorous and practical life.
Take Your Minimalism Deeper
Minimalism isn’t about your stuff; it’s about your soul. If you are seeking a more fulfilled life, one in alignment with your identity, values, and purpose the Soul Deep Simplicity course is your guide. With a life and home buried under excess stuff, external expectations, and crippling comparisons we lose confidence in our identity. Soul Deep Simplicity is the undoing of that life, and a reawakening of who you are meant to be. Click here to learn more!