How Minimalism Helps You Maximize Your Life Assets

Have you started to suspect that the pursuit of more possessions is never-ending and can't make you happy?

Sure, you experience a bit of short-term excitement when you acquire that new gadget or pair of shoes, but the enjoyment doesn't last.  Before you know it, the new item is no longer new – it's just something you own.  And even if it's useful, using it becomes part of your daily routine.  So when your eye is caught by something "new and improved," your desire shifts, and now you can't wait to own that new thing.

For most people, this pattern repeats itself until our closets and cupboards are full, there's no room in the garage to park a car, and all our free time is spent servicing our stuff.

Minimalists are different.

Minimalists realize that a ton of possessions won't necessarily make anyone happy.  In fact, they might prevent our happiness.

Just a sec – let me explain.  I'm not saying we don't benefit from having the items we need for comfort.  Of course I want a quality mattress, a relaxing chair, enough clothes for my daily activities, and adequate dishes and cooking implements to feed myself and my family.  Yes, I like having books to read and a hobby or two.  I'm not saying we'd be better off living with deprivation.

But there's a point (and it's different for everyone) where more stuff starts stealing our time, attention, money, energy, and focus.  All of us have a finite amount of these assets, and if they're directed toward gaining and keeping more stuff, we have nothing left over for pursuits that actually do bring us long-lasting satisfaction.  

And that puts our happiness in jeopardy.

Our precious resources could be better spent.

So what should we do with our time, money, energy, ideas, creativity, and enthusiasm?  How can we maximize the value of our God-given assets?  Each of us will answer that question differently.  Some may want to travel.  Others might want to retire early with enough investment income to meet their needs.

Let's say we use our time and energy to earn money to purchase a big screen TV.  Then our life assets were worth that big screen TV.  We get to hang it on the wall in the living room and watch movies or sports or play video games on it, and that's what we get in return for our life assets.

Or maybe we use our attention and intelligence to make more money and get a good deal on some new clothes or a designer handbag, granite countertops or a custom front door.  In that case, our life assets were worth the fashion and home improvements we purchased.  We and our houses may be beautifully adorned, but that's all we get in return for our life assets.

Be a high-flyer

Now let's imagine that we use our resources to take a family trip.  We make some new memories around a shared experience.  Maybe we learn something new or try something different, and now we have a family story we can remember and talk about for the rest of our lives.

Doesn't this increase the value of the life assets we spent?  We enjoy the trip and we continue to share happy memories with our loved ones far into the future.  Ultimately this may prove more worthwhile than a bigger TV or a fancier handbag.

But wait... we can do even more.

Take it a step further.  How much value results when we share our assets to help a child get medical care, clean water, or an education she wouldn't otherwise receive?  What if we use our money, time, or other assets to help a new immigrant learn English, or to provide a financially struggling family with food, transportation, or heat for the winter?  What if we devote our energy, talent, or other resources toward keeping an arts or research organization financially solvent and available to the whole community?

Now the value of our finite life assets might soar even higher.  Who knows what that healthy child might accomplish with an education?  What might become of the family you help, and how might they in turn help others?  Who might be elevated and inspired by the orchestra or museum you helped support, and what might be shared or created as a result?

Here comes the happiness.

Maybe you've been wanting to give generously and help others, but you haven't been able to make that work in your budget.  Or maybe you just haven't had time in your schedule to volunteer.  You've been spending all your time, energy, money, and everything else on other stuff.

Minimalism can help you create the surplus you need so you can be generous.  A minimalist lifestyle can let you shift some of your finite life resources toward things that have greater and more long-lasting value than the latest smart watch or some new wallpaper.

When we own less, do less, maintain less, and pursue less, we have more to give.  We have more time and attention for our loved ones, and more resources of every kind for pursuits of lasting significance.  And that brings more satisfaction than the short-term high of another purchase.  

Which do you think is the better investment?


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