Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Simplifying life...lessons from Kids

Becoming Minimalist is a blog I recently came across, the story of one family's journey in "becoming minimalist," working toward a life of greater simplicity.

I crave greater simplicity in my life most days.  Work, school, kids, activities, chores, what's not to love??  All the clutter that can come with those things, that's what!  I think my tendency to clutter my life is part of a greater problem I have: a constant God-shaped hole in my soul that I sometimes try to fill with other things.  I see my desire to de-clutter my life as the inverse of my cluttering missteps--the Spirit reminding me that this world is temporary and God is all I really need to depend on.

The author of "Becoming Minimalist," Joshua Becker, doesn't offer any religious affiliation, but his thoughts on a simpler approach to life resonate deeply with convictions I hold as a follower of the One who said,
"Then go, sell all you have, and you will have treasure in heaven.  
Then come follow me."(Luke 18:22) 
"Do not worry about what you shall eat and what you shall drink and what you shall wear
...for your Heavenly Father knows that you need these things." (Matthew 6:31-32) 

He has posted some awesome thoughts, "7 Minimalist Lessons I've Learned from My Kids." I couldn't agree more with his essay, especially with the "Life Lessons"learned.  His site is worth a visit, but I have also included the essay below for sake of simplicity :)

7 Minimalist Lessons I've Learned from My Kids
by Joshua Becker, June 21st, 2010

1. One neighborhood friend is worth more than a basement full of toys. My two kids can spend countless hours with their neighborhood friends running from yard to yard, playing tag, catching bugs, or swinging on swings. They can spend every afternoon and evening together without being bored. But take them away from their friends for one Saturday at home with their toys… and boredom almost immediately sets in. The joy of playing alone in a roomful of toys quickly fades.
LIFE LESSON:Relationships with others are always more exciting and fulfilling than possessions.
2. Clothes are not worn to impress othersMy First Grade son has two requirements for his clothing: 1) that he can get them dirty and 2) that he won’t get too hot. He has never worn a shirt to impress a girl or a pair of slacks to impress his teacher. (He has worn a shirt and slacks because his parents asked him to, but that’s a different subject). I don’t think the idea of trying to impress others by wearing the latest fashions has ever crossed his mind. He feels no pressure to conform or impress. And thus, he’s simply content with a clean tanktop and shorts.
LIFE LESSON: Wear clothing for its usefulness rather than as an attempt to impress others.
3. Life’s pains are healed best by a hug and a kiss… not new toysMy daughter falls down often (as most four year olds do). And when she skins her knee, she only wants one thing – her mommy to pick her up, give her a kiss, and tell her that everything is going to be okay. She doesn’t ask for a new toy… she only desires love and security. She has found the antidote to pain and wouldn’t trade it for anything else.
LIFE LESSON: Don’t look towards ”things” to soothe the pain we encounter in life. Instead, seek love, acceptance, and security.
4. Fancy possessions and character are completely unrelated. I love helping in my son’s First Grade classroom because Kindergarten and First Grade may be the only places left on earth where labels don’t exist. At age 7, everyone is accepted and everyone plays with everyone else. Each person starts the day on equal footing. Nobody is pre-judged by the house that they live in or the clothes that they wear. Oh, that our world would begin to resemble a first-grade classroom.
LIFE LESSON: Judge people by their hearts and character, not by the meaningless externals of life.
5. Too many toys in a box only get in the way of the good ones. A funny thing happens after holidays. A mountain of new toys enter my childrens’ lives. The toys are initially meant with incredible excitement. However, after two or three days, they are pushed to the side as my kids return to the tried-and-true toys they had been playing with long before the holiday ever occurred. The new toys we thought would make them happier, don’t. Instead, they just start to get in the way.
LIFE LESSON: We often think that material possessions will bring lasting excitement into our life, but most of the time they just end up getting in the way.   
6. The more toys you play with, the more time you spend cleaning them upBecause we clean up every night before bed (well, almost every night), our kids understand this pretty simple equation. The more toys we pull out of the closet, the more time we spend cleaning them up. And conversely, the less time we spend actually enjoying them.
LIFE LESSON: The more possessions we own, the more of our time is required to care for them, clean them, organize and sort them.
7. A hike in the woods beats a new video game anydayVideo games simply can not compete with the graphics, the full-sensory experience, or the relationship of a family walk through the woods. Never have, never will. And for that matter, nothing else produced on televsion can compete either.
LIFE LESSON: Turn off the television. Go outside. Live life, don’t just watch it.

Such great lessons!  Becoming Minimalist also has a great post on "Building Others Up" today, also something we need to do more often and another essay worth reading.

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