Everyday we are sifting and choosing through thousands of choices. Choosing what is essential will improve the quality of our lives. Choosing what is critical is not Minimalism, which is having less stuff. I looked up the definition of minimalism and wikipedia said:
Minimalism is all about living with less. This includes less financial burdens such as debt and unnecessary expenses. … For many minimalists, the philosophy is about getting rid of excess stuff and living life based on experiences rather than worldly possessions.
In my mind, Minimalism is an intentional choice to do and have less, to make time for more experiences but Essentialism is more about picking wisely what we focus our energy and resources on in order to have a rich, fulfilling life. We could decide to cut our wardrobe to seven shirts, or we may be able to live on a lean budget so we can have more freedom in our work choice, but we may use that time to only focus on ourselves, or use it in addictive ways.
We also may have a beautiful, minimalist home like the one pictured above but everyone is in their own uncluttered room on their devices. We can be working long hours to pay people to clean this perfectly appointed home and mow the grass instead of connecting as a family. This can include teaching the next generation how to clean and do yard work, and cooking and eating meals together. Essentialism teaches to value the family time together over what our houses look like.
My husband and I were gone on a trip and we had more time for this important self-reflection. We examined what we were spending our time on and how to prioritize the more critical components. What were we using our precious time and energy on? We have been–
· thinking a lot about “mandatory employment” , which means showing up somewhere everyday, and that we want to be spending less money and have more time to do the things we want to do, instead of mandatory employment.
· working on streamlining our birthday celebrations to make them less expensive and more thoughtful. We are having birthday picnics this month instead of automatically going to a restaurant and are giving more considerate gifts rather than handing over a check.
· going through our budget more thoroughly to see what we could cut out.
· trying to not overschedule ourselves.
· removing the resistance that makes it hard to do the important things. This is such an important step. We started looking at the obstacles in our lives and started removing as many of them as we could just by being more mindful. An example of this is going to bed early. My eyes pop open sometime between 4:00 and 5:00 am–even if I go to bed at midnight and I am wearing an eye mask. Going to bed early stopped me from feeling tired the next day and happier. It makes my early morning hours so productive, where I get 80 percent of my day’s tasks done. This was a huge shift for me when I understood the “Golden Hours” in the morning. My husband and I endure a lot of teasing over our early bedtime of 8:00 pm, but a restful night’s sleep has been a game changer for us.
· creating more space in our lives by using Greg McKewon’s “Less but Better” idea. Here again is the difference between essentialism and minimalism. It is having less physical, emotional and mental clutter that is replaced with quality items and better things to watch and do. We have applied this new lens to our food at home, eating out, clothes shopping, activities we do, and how we schedule our days. It’s a true principle and a wonderful filter. We have seen the peace it brings us and how the quality of our lives has improved. As we deal with an overwhelming magnitude of choices, stuff and information every day, working for “less but better” in every area of our lives has been a game changer.
Have any of you been using this principle of “Less but Better”? I would love to hear about it!