Over the last few months, I’ve been interviewing amazing bloggers about simple living, location independence, financial freedom and more. This week the feature interview is with Joshua Becker from Becoming Minimalist. Enjoy the interview and make sure you visit Joshua's blog! :)
Tammy: Can you tell us about your new book Inside-Out Simplicity and why you decided to write it?
Joshua: I wanted to write "Inside Out Simplicity" because I didn't know of any other book quite like it available. I wrote the first book, "Simplify" as an easy-to-read manual to help anyone declutter their home and life. And I think it does a good job of accomplishing that goal. But shortly after we chose to declutter our life and embrace simplicity, I began to realize the journey towards simplicity was about far more than just removing possessions. And as we began to ask questions about why we owned so much stuff in the first place, we realized that the process involved our very heart, soul, desires, and motivations.
This new book, "Inside-Out Simplicity" is about that journey inward. Taken from the framework of our most important relationships, it deals with issues such as contentment, generosity, intentionality, and forgiveness. And gets to the very heart of the issue.
Tammy: I love this quote from, Inside-Out Simplicity:
“…many people go through life having no clear sense of their true values. Instead, their desires are molded by the culture and the advertisements that bombard upon them each day. As a result, they find no consistency in life. No unity. Their desires change as fast as the culture and they are quickly swept off their feet by the newest fashion, the most recent technology, or the latest diet fad.”
How can people move past consumerism and find more unity in their lives?
Joshua: First, they've got to slow down their lives enough to provide opportunity for some real, transparent self-evaluation. Too many people get so caught in the race to acquire more and more possessions that they never take the time to evaluate if all that "stuff" is really making them happy or meeting their needs.
Second, as is mentioned above, they need to decide for themselves what they most want to accomplish with their lives - what is truly most important to them.
And then thirdly, they need to take the significant steps necessary to align their life with their values. This last step can be difficult for some. But is life-changing and freeing for all.
Tammy: What prompted you to start your downsizing journey?
Joshua: My life changed after a 2-minute conversation with my neighbor who introduced me to the minimalist lifestyle. It was that simple and we've never looked back. Of course, the background leading up to that conversation had prepared my heart to abruptly accept the significant life change. I was dissatisfied with the amount of time that I had available to spend with my family. I was upset about constantly living from paycheck to paycheck. And I was becoming increasingly aware that a big house full of nice things was not bringing satisfaction or contentment to my soul.
Tammy: A number of my readers want to start decluttering their homes, but don’t know where to start. How can folks start the decluttering process and avoid feeling so overwhelmed by the challenge?
Joshua: Start small - one drawer, one closet, or one room. Believe it or not, my first decluttering project was my car. It took me about 14 minutes to finish. But the following morning when I got inside the car and felt the freedom, I knew I had to tackle each room in my house, one by one. It's best to see the decluttering process as a marathon rather than a sprint. You didn't collect all this stuff in one day, and it's going to take longer than one day to remove it.
Tammy: Since the NYTs article, But Will It Make You Happy?, was published I've received hundreds of emails from mothers and fathers asking how they can live simple, minimalist lives with kids. You've been living a simple, minimalist lifestyle with kids for a number of years. Can you tell us about your experience and give our readers a few downsizing tips?
Joshua: First off, I would assure them that it is possible. We stand as living proof. After all, we are just a typical middle-class family of four living in the suburbs who have learned to embrace simplicity and minimalism. Second, I would try to convince them that not only is it possible, it is beneficial for your children and your family. Removing your unnecessary possessions will result in more time together, deeper relationships, and more significance in each others' lives. Parents with kids should actually have more motivation to simplify their homes and lives.
And here are a few downsizing tips that we've learned over the years that we've used to help families:
1) Come to the realization that you can give your children far greater gifts that just another toy. They need/want your time, attention, and investment far more than the next video game.
2) Model simplicity for them. You can't ask them to remove their clothes and toys until you have removed yours.
3) Accept the reality that growing kids need things. They outgrow clothes, toys, and school supplies. As a result, you'll need to make those purchases.
4) Stay on top of the things they have outgrown by donating them to others. Find a neighbor, friend, or Goodwill store near you and regularly donate outgrown clothes, toys, books, sporting equipment, or school supplies.
Tammy: Your blog is very thoughtful and I think everyone should head over and take a look at your content. Which of your posts should my readers check out?
Joshua: Thanks Tammy. To read how minimalism has positively changed our life, they could read Benefits of Minimalism. To get a feel for how we have embraced minimalism with children, they should check out How to Become Minimalist with Children. To read our most popular post, I'd direct them to The 10 Most Important Things to Simplify in Your Life. Or to get a flavor for our new book, they could read Stop Chasing Success. Seek Significance.
Tammy: I've really appreciated this interview. I feel like we've gone beyond the superficial "buy my book" type interview questions and answered some real helpful questions for the readers. Any closing statements of advice that you want to offer?
Joshua: Yeah, real simple. Give simplicity a shot in your life. You'll find a counter-cultural life that results in less stress, less debt, and less impact on the environment. You'll discover more freedom, more time, and more meaning. Even if you start small, you'll be glad you did!
Tammy: Thanks Joshua!