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When Less Is More

Little Rock Air Force base, Ark. -- When is less actually more? Read on to find out! There is a website that I recommend - www.becomingminimalist.com. This website by Joshua Becker focuses on scaling down in our lives to achieve a higher level of happiness. Becker also has a few books out including "Simplify" and "Living with Less." There is a movement in some circles taking hold of the idea to simplify and get rid of the clutter. For some, the idea of simplifying includes getting rid of all the unneeded, unnecessary stuff at the house - cleaning out the attic, taking out some of the furniture and decorations, removing unused clothing items, etc. "Minimalizing" also involves taking a look at the calendar for too much activity. There is also a shift in thinking to living a simpler life, with less of a focus on needing material things.

Now, there are all different levels of minimalism and every person has to decide how far to take it. But, I think there is some valuable merit to considering how modern American culture could be putting a strain on our lives that is not needed or healthy. Here are a few thoughts on some areas to look at in our own lives.

1. Spend Less/Need Less - this is great advice! One solution to curb spending is to decide you don't need as much. Once we realize we don't have to keep up with the Jones's (no offense to any Jones's!) and that we don't need more "things" to be happy, we can relieve ourselves from the financial pressures that come with always wanting more.

2. Less Stress/More Rest - How do we have less stress and more rest? One way is to remove some of the business from our schedules. If you are like me, I tend to fill in any empty slots on my calendar and then I end up wishing for an escape! Leave some of those slots empty. Don't get involved in too many things. Don't let your children get involved in too many things. Reserve some space in your lives for some down time, some fun time, some quality rest time.

3. More Freedom/More Productive - needing less and scheduling less will move you into a position to have more freedom, and with more freedom you can actually become more productive! You can pour yourself into the few things that you really care about rather than trying to give a halfhearted attempt at everything under the sun. You can actually enjoy your activities because you are not so busy that you can't even think straight. You might even find there is some creativity that has been buried in a sea of stress. You might even have some fun or laugh or actually have a meaningful conversation! Relationships can blossom and you may even be able to see more clearly how to help others.

4. Happier! This isn't really about doing less - it's about doing more of the things that really matter. It's about quality vs. quantity. It's about making a difference vs. just making it.

Thomas Kempis said, "Purity and simplicity are the two wings with which man soars above the earth and all temporary nature." Becker calls for us to take a look at our lives and make some healthy reductions in such areas as our possessions, time commitments, goals, and tasks. As I contemplate this list it seems to me that many of these things work against us - they lock us down and lock is in. We become held captive by the prison bars that we put in place! I know all this from experience. I have to continually remind myself not to get too diversified into too many things.
This is nothing new. Thousands of years ago, King Solomon said, "And all that my eyes desired I did not refuse them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart was pleased because of all my labor and this was my reward for all my labor. Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun." King Solomon was a very wise man and he went through the same process of coming to realize what is really important and the value of putting some focus on our lives. We can learn from him. One more great benefit of all this (and the most important one) is it can give us the space in our lives we need to develop our spirituality and how we express our spirituality in the world - something that it sorely needed. So, when is less actually more? It's when we remove the clutter in our lives to allow us to live more fully and abundantly. Take the challenge and see where it leads - I am thinking it will be good stuff.