How To Use Minimalism for a Greater Purpose
This is the paradox of minimalism – it’s a practice of the smaller exterior life to experience a bigger inner life.
The bigger inner life of minimalism is based on the principle of removing clutter from our homes and minds, trimming our schedules for priorities and passions, and designing a simple life full of gratitude and experience rather than accumulation of things.
And as I consider this paradox, specifically the bigger inner life aspect, I wonder – so then what? After the clutter is gone and we enjoy regular white space and freedom in the new boundaries of simple living, what and who is it all for?
Is there an even greater purpose to minimalism than personal liberty from stuff and stress?
More Than It Seems
Sometimes, I look at the claims of minimalism’s benefits and it seems uncomfortably self-focused. I see, “get rid of stuff you don’t love, do only what you desire, pursue your passions and creating more time for yourself”, etc. and I begin to squirm.
Is it all about my desires, my time, my personal comfort?
I hear myself explaining to friends or family why I pursue a simpler life and to my own ears it sounds self-centered – the clear counters give me peace, I don’t have as many toys to pick up, I have less decision fatigue in the mornings. Look at how great I feel, look how I’ve changed, come see how I do it…
I worry they may mistake my enthusiasm and legitimate benefits of simplicity for arrogance.
But, I notice within this bigger inner life that with less stuff, more time, and deeper soul I desire more from it. To do more with it, and allow minimalism not to become only a personal journey of freedom. Maybe, my minimalism has a greater purpose beyond myself.
What benefit is there internally if it doesn’t transform us externally as well? And not just us, but transform the people we live with, care about, and share community with. The more I consider my own minimalism, I realize if I contain it to my individual experience without allowing it to flow through and out of me for a greater purpose, then the benefits are actually quite small.
The Greater Purpose of Minimalism
Initially minimalism is about self. It’s decluttering and harnessing the small, consistent mindsets shifts and habit reformation. It’s deep soul care, filtering the truth from lifelong beliefs and behaviors. We simplify to capture our worth in a world set against us activating the power within our worthiness.
At some point on our personal journeys we arrive at a crossroads where we are no longer on a singular path, and opportunity arises for the more of less to manifest. With the opportunity to use our free time, resources, or talents for the service of others our minimalism becomes more than a personal lifestyle. It becomes a tool for generosity. It now serves a greater purpose.
I’ve heard it a thousand times; you can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself. So, minimalism must do it’s work on me first to usher me into freedom from stuff, comparison, and distraction. After which, it can flow through and out of me with a generous spirit to fulfill it’s greater purpose.
3 Ways to Purpose Your Minimalism Beyond Yourself
- Own less to give more
Joshua Becker said, ‘Don’t just de-clutter; de-own.” We probably underestimate the cost of owning. Just because it’s paid for doesn’t mean you’re not still paying a price.
When we decide to de-own we create an opportunity to give it away to someone in need, the excess time we gain can be used to serve, and the peace of mind at home may create opportunities for hospitality or provide the rest you need to serve later.
- Want less to be more
Henry David Thoreau said, “I make myself rich by making my wants few.”
In a generation of availability and accessibility it’s difficult to disarm our ‘wanter’. If you want it, you can get it, and delivered on your doorstep within two days, without ever leaving your house or putting on pants.
Soon, we become buried in things we once wanted, but never needed and no longer like or use. We spent our money and our peace, and lost our soul underneath it all.
The soul of minimalism is choosing to be rich in spirit, to want more purpose than possessions. To be more than have more.
- Do less to serve more
Brian Gardner says, “White space is where the magic happens.”
Busyness has become a badge of honor. We’ve all said and heard, “I’m just so busy”, and we go to bed exhausted and wondering what it was we did all day.
Slow down, say no, don’t do it all. “Discern the vital few from the trivial many.” (Greg McKeown)
Like, serving a sick friend, reading to children, or using a talent or gift to encourage someone. Or even rest for yourself.
Simplicity designs white space to create magic – that spark of creativity or opportunity for a generous outpouring to help another.
The unexpected nature of minimalism offers an abundant life; one that leads us to pursue greater things for ourselves and for others. As Glennon Doyle once said, “Once we’ve been given freedom, we pass the baton.”
A Great Place to Start
The greater purpose of your minimalism is greatly needed. There are millions of children in need of shelter, food, and clothing all around the world. This month, I am running a campaign through Compassion International to raise $2500 for earthquake victims in Ecuador. Click HERE to go to the Act for Compassion campaign page and learn how you can be a part of this greater purpose. Join me in passing the baton.