It’s incredible to think that 15 years have passed since Memorial Day weekend in 2008 when I first discovered minimalism.
On an otherwise ordinary spring Saturday, my 5-year-old son and I were outside, cleaning the garage. The job took up hours of my day—and my son lasted only a few minutes before running to the backyard to play.
Meanwhile, my neighbor, June, was outside too, busily tending to her yardwork.
It was during that stretch of time that my neighbor made a passing comment about the burdens of homeownership. I responded, somewhat offhand, “The more stuff you own, the more your stuff owns you.” What she said next changed the course of my life:
“That’s why my daughter is a minimalist. She keeps telling me that I don’t need all this stuff!”
I had never heard the term before, but it instantly resonated with me. The idea of living with less, of escaping the grip of my possessions, was deeply appealing. I remember excitedly sharing the idea with my wife, who shared my enthusiasm.
“That’s what I want too.”
That was the day our journey began. That was the day we started becoming minimalist. And now, 15 years later, it’s been an incredible journey.
Here are the 15 gifts that minimalism has given me, gifts that I am very thankful for:
1. Freedom from Consumer Culture
Minimalism opened my eyes to the relentless pressures of consumerism and helped me step out of the race. I no longer feel the need to constantly acquire more, or to define my success by the size of my home or the make of my car. This detachment from materialism has been incredibly liberating.
2. Improved Financial Health
By choosing to own less, I’ve found that my financial health has improved dramatically. With less desire to constantly buy and consume, at first we were simply able to get ahead. But after 15 years, our savings have grown, and financial stress has been significantly reduced.
3. Focus on What Truly Matters
Minimalism has guided me to a profound realization: the best things in life aren’t things. It’s the experiences, relationships, and moments of self-discovery that make life meaningful.
4. Time for Passions
Less clutter means less time spent cleaning, organizing, and managing. That extra time has allowed me to pursue passions and hobbies that truly enrich my life.
5. Deepening of Faith
By clearing out the excess, minimalism has created more room for my faith to grow. It has shifted my focus from material possessions to spiritual growth, and that has made all the difference.
6. Less Stress
With fewer possessions and fewer perceived needs, I’ve noticed a significant reduction in stress. There’s a sense of calm and serenity that comes with embracing a minimalist lifestyle.
Minimalism has deepened my sense of gratitude. I’ve learned to appreciate what I have, rather than longing for what I don’t. This shift in mindset has brought a lot of peace and contentment.
Minimalism isn’t just about decluttering physical space—it’s also about decluttering the mind. Living with less has taught me to be more mindful, present, and intentional in all aspects of life.
9. A Clearer Understanding of My Needs and Wants
One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned from minimalism is how to distinguish between needs and wants. This clarity has been key in maintaining my minimalist lifestyle.
10. More Energy for Relationships
With less clutter occupying my physical and mental space, I’ve been able to devote more energy to nurturing my relationships. These connections, I’ve found, are the true source of joy and fulfillment.
11. Being a Better Parent
Minimalism has made me a better parent. With fewer distractions, I’ve been able to be more present with my kids, focusing on quality time and meaningful experiences. And also become a better husband (which I shouldn’t overlook here).
12. Increased Generosity
Living with less has highlighted the abundance in my life and prompted me to be more generous—even starting a nonprofit called The Hope Effect that is changing the way the world cares for orphans. Generosity, I’ve learned, is a key ingredient for a happy, fulfilling life.
13. Intentional Living
Minimalism has been a tool that has enabled me to live more intentionally, especially in regards to consumerism. It has allowed me to step back and ask if my actions align with my values.
14. Personal Growth
Minimalism has spurred personal growth in ways I couldn’t have imagined. The introspection and self-awareness that this journey has demanded have made me a better person.
15. Meaningful Life
The biggest gift minimalism has given me is the realization that life is not about accumulating possessions, but about building relationships, growing in faith, and making a difference in the world. It’s about living a life that aligns with your values and brings you joy.
Here’s to 15 years of becoming minimalist and to the countless ways this lifestyle has enriched my life.
As I reflect on these gifts, I am filled with gratitude for that life-changing conversation in 2008. It set me on a path to a richer, fuller, more meaningful life. And for that, I will always be thankful.
It’s my hope that my experiences might inspire you as well to explore the possibilities of a minimalist lifestyle. Here’s to the next 15 years, and the many lessons and gifts I’m sure they’ll bring.
About the Author: Joshua Becker is the Founder and Editor of Becoming Minimalist, a website read by over 1M readers every month. He is also a #1 Wall Street Journal Bestselling author and Founder of Simplify Magazine.