After reading a book entitled, "Living Well Spending Less: 12 secrets of the good life" by: Ruth Soukup I was reminded of something I intuitively knew deep down in my soul, but desperately needed to be reminded of.
Chapter 6 of this book was about how less stuff equals more joy.
Now, my initial reaction to that phrase alone was, "yeah right" until I actually put some more thought into it... Then my mind wandered to my experiences as a missionary in places like Mexico, China, Thailand, Bosnia, England, & then Tanzania... as well as the wonderful people I had met there.
It is often said that when you think you're going to bless someone else, you often end up being blessed back in return unexpectedly... and this was definitely true of my experiences in these countries. Even though many of the people I met had “less” than I had in terms of material possessions or wealth, they often still had something wonderful. Something priceless...
They had joy & they had contentment – 2 things that I often struggled with.
It was really difficult for me, at the time, to understand how they could be so happy when they were “lacking” so many things. They didn't have new clothes. They didn't have decorated homes. They didn't even have access to the fancy foods I could eat back home (no McDonalds?!?). Yet there were far more smiles & generosity in these places than in the 1st world country I was privileged enough to grow up in.
What was I missing? There had to be something I hadn't yet discovered on my quest for such an elusive thing as joy & contentment. Could it really be that there were more important things in life than “things”?
Certainly there were specific items that these families would appreciate having, but having them was not their reason for happiness. They found joy in simple things like: “Jesus loves me” - “I have family & friends” - “I didn't go hungry today” - “I have shelter” - “I am alive”... Whereas I could easily go into a “woe is me” attitude for an entire day if I noticed yet another area in my home that was not satisfactorily decorated.
I realized that what I was truly lacking was an attitude of gratitude for all that I had.
I truly have EVERYTHING that I need. I have a relationship with God, food to eat, water to drink, a healthy body, a home, & my family. When I allow myself to feel restless about the next thing I “want” I am likely forgetting to give thanks for all that I already have... & THIS is a breeding ground for discontentment.
Always wanting more doesn't only bring discontentment into our lives, but will inevitably cause our homes to be overrun with CLUTTER! This has been my experience more often than I care to admit, but years & years of purchasing whatever I wanted whether it was needed or not has transformed our home into the absolute opposite of warm & inviting. It has become a land that I lovingly refer to as: chaos! ;)
Entering a room I need to clean & then realizing that there are a ton of things in it that don't technically have a place to go... can cause me to enter into a state of panic. As a sentimental person, I've always struggled with getting rid of things – especially gifts. Unfortunately for me, most of my 4 year old daughter's toys & clothes... were gifts!!! I was floored when I read about how Ruth Soukup (Living Well Spending Less) came in like a whirlwind one day & got rid of every single one of her children's toys (to be fair, after many warnings) & instead of crying or throwing a huge tantrum... they actually helped her pack them up & ended up enjoying having less!
Some might view this as a drastic or even cruel course of action, but it actually made a lot of sense to me when I thought about my daughter's toy room that is so full of toys that she can hardly decide what to play with or even find the things she WANTS to play with. It's ridiculous.
In the same way too many toys & clothes are overwhelming for my preschooler, too many things scattered throughout my home is overwhelming for me. Because of this, I've decided that my new course of action is to go through my entire home (room by room, one section at a time) & dispose of, recycle, or donate everything that hasn't been used recently or that doesn't serve a useful purpose. Having less means less to clean & more time for the important things in life... like cuddling with my hubby to watch a movie at night or playing dolls with my daughter or being able to relax & just enjoy quiet time with God.
We are all a work in progress, but in order to progress & grow in life it can really help to have a plan.
I have a plan now & am excited as i see continued progress come from it. It takes consistency & a commitment to make better choices than we used to, but every time I finish a project or room I get to let out a huge sigh of relief & am proud of what I've accomplished. Having less truly equals freedom <3
(This is an essay that I will be emailing to the author of Living Well Spending Less (Ruth Soukup) about how I've grown from reading her new book in order to be considered to win an all expenses paid week long cruise for 4 on the Carnival Sunshine, but I'm content even if I do not win. My greatest hope is that my words will be an inspiration to somebody else).
Learn more here: http://www.livingwellspendingless.com/
Bless you as you also pursue the good life,