Love Limits

His hair is sweaty and his face looks hot, but he doesn't slow down.

Up, across, down, run back, up, across, and down again.  The sweat slips down his cheek, but his eyes are alight with eagerness and fun.

He's my three-year-old grandson, and if I didn't call him over for a sip of lemonade now and again, he'd climb and slide and run around the play structure until he dropped from exhaustion.  He has no idea of limits.

He may take only one bite of his grilled cheese, but could eat "yummy wallypops" all day if I'd give them to him.  He needs a bit of firmness at bath time or clean-up-toys time or bedtime, or he'd never be clean or rested until fatigue took over.  He needs to be slowed down and reminded to wash his hands, or he'd just run out of the bathroom to play some more.  He can be quiet, but rarely chooses that state.  He needs the discipline of limits so he can stay healthy, comfortable, and socially acceptable!

happy, active child

Learning to live with limits

Most of us grew up with parents or grandparents who loved us enough to set limits.  Those limits protected and guided us.  Even when we chafed at them, they were doing us good.

Eventually, we started to make our own decisions, and we began to test the limits.  Whether we broke curfew, did a bit too much partying, or something else entirely, part of becoming an adult involved pushing on and breaking some of the boundaries we'd been taught to respect.

It was an education in decision-making and self-reliance.  And most of us learned that some limits are necessary.  Now we live within the law, we don't drink and drive, we pay our bills, we mind our manners and try to get along with people.  We accept the limits that keep our society stable.

There are some limits our society encourages us to ignore.

We're called "consumers," and we're expected to buy.  Buy to celebrate, buy to console.  Buy to have what your friends have, or to be the first of your friends to own it.  Buy to make your life easier, or more exciting, or to express yourself, or to realize your dreams.  Buy because that thing you have is so last year, even though last year you were told it was the most wonderful, advanced thing in the world.

Even if you have no money, buy.  It's on sale – buy two!  Take this low interest loan, or get this credit card, or sign a contract and get the first month completely free!

Our society also labels us "busy."  Busyness is a badge of honor.  You're important, indispensable, and you don't want to miss out on anything.  You're in the know, you retweet the hottest memes.  Your kids are the brightest and the best and you push relentlessly.  That Harvard acceptance letter or full-ride athletic scholarship is the route to happiness and respect.  Go big or go home!

The results of ignoring limits

Our big houses are stuffed to the gills.  We buy everything we want, but are easily convinced we need more.  We have debt – a lot of it.  With our packed schedules, we're always running late, we're impatient, and we're constantly multi-tasking, which means we never fully pay attention to anything.  We're sleep-deprived, anxious, and perpetually snacking.

When we collapse at the end of the day, we let Door Dash deliver food, binge watch TV, and scroll through social media.  We don't listen, we don't converse.  We don't really taste or smell.  If we feel lonely or disconnected as a result, we stuff our feelings and buy something, or we get a prescription.

We have to stop blowing through the limits of our time, space, money, and energy.  We need to stop abusing our bodies and our spirits.  We need to make room for creativity and kindness.

Here's the reality:  It's impossible to have or do everything, and by pursuing the impossible we're throwing away what's really important.

Minimalism doesn't set limits, but it recognizes them.

Minimalism doesn't have rules.  It doesn't require you to keep only 100 possessions, own a ten-item wardrobe, or live in a 300-square-foot tiny house.  

Minimalism helps you live with less clutter, less debt, less busyness, and less stress so you have room for what really matters to you.  It helps you savor and enjoy the people, activities, and things that bring value to your life, while removing everything else.  Minimalism can help you limit yourself in ways that bring joy, well-being, contentment, and freedom.

Minimalism is for everyone, but it's not one-size-fits-all.  Minimalism doesn't set limits, but there are limits that are just right for you.  Whether that means keeping just two sets of sheets for each bed, spending just one hour on social media per day, or something else, setting limits will give your life the freedom and focus you've been looking for.


Updated February 2023


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