15 August 2012

Book Review: Living with Less

You might remember about a year and a half ago, I mentioned (at the end of this post), that I had started reading minimalist blogs for inspiration.  Although I haven't blogged about it since, I have been devouring blogs about minimalism and simple living.  I decluttered, cleaned the shiitake out of my house, and gave away a ton of things I didn't need.  I'll post my personal experiences with simple living later this month. 

I've been fortunate to receive an advanced copy of Joshua Becker's new book, Living With Less:  An Unexpected Key to Happiness.  This book is kind of unusual for a minimalist book -- I've found minimalists ted to be a bit zenny, while Becker takes minimalism from a Christian perspective.  Now hang on a minute -- it's not a crazy 'Jesus freak' book and you definitely don't need to be Christian to appreciate it.  I'm not religious and I found Becker's perspective refreshing.  The first part of the book is the Jesus-minimalism part. My favourite bit was where Jesus basically says not to bother having a lot of stuff because your shiitake's just going to break or get trashed by bugs and rats or get stolen and things of the heart can't be ruined like that.  Obviously, that's not a direct Biblical quote, but it is a really good way to look at things, especially when you're having one of those moments where you are struggling with jealousy or desire for stuff.

I didn't realise it when I first started reading the book, but the book is actually directed toward the Christian teenage demographic.  I don't really feel like you have to be a part of that demographic (I am certainly not) to get a lot out of this book, although I really wish someone had told me this when I was getting ready for college: 
Somebody who decides to intentionally live with less has less need to hold a certain level of income. As a result, they can choose whatever career path they most desire. Their decision does not have to be dictated by income level. And while there is nothing unbiblical about earning money, when your salary package can be removed from the career-choice equation, you are free to choose your career based on other factors—such as “something I really want to do.”
That is pretty much the opposite of everything I was thinking when I applied for college and it took me a good many years to find that perspective on my own.

The book goes also through the usual minimalist tidbits.  Becker's personal story, the freedom you feel when not burdened by possessions (you can still have things, just don't let them own you), the freedom from debt, the change in perspective where more value is placed on your free time instead of your things, the myths and misconceptions about minimalism and how you can pursue a minimalist lifestyle without getting rid of all your stuff, and some advice on getting started.

Joshua Becker blogs at Becoming Minimalist.  His new book, Living With Less:  An Unexpected Key to Happiness, comes out today, 15 August, and is available from Amazon in both paperback and kindle format. 

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