Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The More of Less by Joshua Becker: a Book Review

It's the perfect time of the year to re-start, isn't it? The sun is shining again, the sky is blue and everywhere you look, new greenness is popping from tree limbs and bushes. Flowers are bright and cheerful after the dark days of winter.

Yes, you think, surveying your home--which, if it's anything like mine, has sprouted smears, grime, fingerprints, and dust bunnies half the size of Colorado--it's the perfect time of the year to de-clutter and finally start that minimalism thing.

I've been talking about minimalism a bit here on the blog lately, but for those of you who aren't familiar with the term it means basically this: paring down on things that don't matter so much to you, in order to focus on those that do.

For a lot of people this means letting go: of possessions, mostly, but also other things that aren't serving you well--be it toxic relationships, time-eating meetings, work commitments that are so far outside of your pay scale it's laughable, and more.

I recently had the pleasure of receiving an advanced copy of Joshua Becker's book, The More of Less. Joshua is the founder and editor of Becoming Minimalist, an awesome simple living/minimalism site that I've been reading for years.

While I personally feel that book reviews are somewhat silly because they are so subjective--what I love, you may hate and what you adore, I might find annoying--I promised to give an honest review in exchange for being an early reader of the book.

The More of Less

This book has a lot going for it: it's inspiring yet down-to-earth, motivating without being condemning and filled with personal anecdotes and stories that make the pages really come to life. If you've read Joshua's other books, Simplify and Clutter-Free with Kids, some of the stories in The More of Less will be refreshers. 

Somehow, though, the author makes the information--which he's been talking about for I believe it's eight years now--seem new and interesting. There was also a different level of depth to this book that I didn't find in the others. To me, it was similar to someone giving you a recipe (earlier books) versus making you a delicious French pastry, then walking you through the steps one by one while standing at your shoulder. Which do you think would make a long-lasting impression? 

One of my favorite parts of The More of Less, was the section on how minimalism plays a role, not just in helping us let go of things that we now longer need, but how this impacts our view of ourselves. Could we, by letting go of the guitar we never play, the woodworking tools we rarely use, or the art supplies we haven't pulled out in a decade, finally admit to ourselves that those things represent people we are not, and may never be? 

This hit me big time as I'm a bit of a grandiose thinker. I think of my future in glittering lights and breathlessly happy moments. "Then," I imagine, "when I reach that place or meet that goal or become that person, then I'll truly be happy." 

What this section of the book made me really evaluate is how I'm allowing certain possessions I hold on to to keep me stuck in this false sense of self. Does this make sense? It's like an artist trying constantly to force herself to be an accountant although she's a little scared of numbers, or a top salesman trying to make poetry his thing, even though he really has no talent for writing. 

In fact, my favorite parts of the book--which does focus a lot on the hands-on work of minimizing one's physical space--were the parts that went deeper. The author talks about focusing on your priorities and choosing to say no to some things so that you can say yes to those things which you love and are made for. It's all well and good to let go of things, but what will end up in their place? He also talks a lot about giving: of your money, your time, your love. 

This is an important piece of the minimalism puzzle that it feels is sometimes overlooked by others in the "field" for lack of a better word. It's wonderful to minimize. It's great to de-clutter. It's fabulous to be thrifty and frugal and save for early retirement or the trip of your dreams. But I think that Joshua hits the nail directly on the head when he talks about the fact that without giving back, none of these things will satisfy us. 

I really enjoyed reading The More of Less and would highly encourage you to get your hands on a copy. It's for sale on Amazon and Barnes and Noble or if you want to be frugal, request that your local library buy a copy to circulate. 

Be sure also to check out Becoming Minimalist for ongoing inspiration. 

*Note, I do not receive any affiliate income for this book review. 

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