Written by Joshua Becker
“You may have picked up this book hoping for ideas about decluttering your house. You’ll get them, I promise … More time, more money, less stress, less distraction, more freedom. It all sounds appealing doesn’t it?” In his book The More of Less, Joshua Becker spends 10 chapters detailing the process of intentionally paring down material possessions. He also explains how this decluttering process will result in contentment and even joy. In the last few chapters, he extends the promotion of intentionality to finances, time, health/fitness, and relationships. Throughout the book, he promises that, “When we embrace minimalism we are immediately freed to pursue our greatest passions.”
Becker’s epiphany towards minimalism was spending a holiday weekend cleaning out his garage that was so packed with items he rarely used that he could not even park a vehicle in it. His tipping point was realizing that even though he really wanted to play ball with his son, he was spending his time with the stuff in his garage. At that moment he heard his neighbor say, [you] “don’t need to own all that stuff.” From that defining moment, he and his family gave away 60% of their possessions. He also began blogging, speaking, and writing about minimalism. The financial freedom his family gained from their new lifestyle even made it possible to donate the advance he earned from the book towards a charity that helps orphans.
The bottom line of this book is that living intentionally by your values will free you up to not only dream bigger dreams than you ever imagined, but also to attain them. The particular path that he lays out for living intentionally is becoming a minimalist and doing your best to bring your family along.
Becker defines minimalism as: “the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from them.” With this simple definition he walks the reader first through removing the clutter of material possessions. He takes it slowly, step by step over, weaving in stories of himself and others on their minimalist journeys. The stories highlight the wide variety of motivations for adopting a minimalist lifestyle as well as the multitude of different lifestyles that minimalism can provide; for example, owning only enough possessions to fill one suitcase in order to travel the world, living in a tiny house, or getting out of debt and having enough left over to fund charitable endeavors.
Becker is careful to lay out the process beginning with exercises that result in quick wins such as cleaning out a drawer. He then builds to bigger and bigger decisions such as whether to do without items as weighty as cars and houses. He does not advocate attempting to sell items, but to give them away. He also recommends setting up what he calls “experiments” to help make decisions on whether or not an item is necessary. For example he and his wife tried making due with one car for a while, and realized that at that point in time they still really needed two. He also gives advice on how to bring along spouses and children into the minimalist lifestyle.
His method relies on the foundation that each decision one makes in getting rid of clutter leads to more clarity on what matters to them in their life, which in turn makes the next decision on what to keep or get rid of easier. The step-by-step instructions leave time for reflection and rest as well as taking stock of gains made through the intentional decision-making about what to keep and what to get rid of.
The author is up front that his belief in Christianity shapes his particular incarnation of minimalism, but encourages the reader to examine themselves to find what their passions and motivations are. The reader’s passions and motivations will shape what they choose to keep in their life. Next he uses questions to get people to understand why they accumulate possessions in the first place. Then he shows how the things that we purchase and value reveal our motivations such as the belief that money and possessions equal security and belonging. In the end he promises that true contentment comes from first removing all that distracts us from our true passion. Lastly, he encourages the reader to invest the time, money, and effort they save through minimalism into giving to others as this will lead to true joy.