Minimalism takes work and effort. It is an exercise of saying no to many things in order to focus on saying yes to the important ones. It is well worth it since minimalism also brings many benefits to both body and soul. Lent is a season for minimalism, both inside and out. We are invited to visit the desert, like Jesus, and say no to “extra” food, noise, decorations, festivities, things, activities, etc.
To get rid of things, to acquire fewer things, to do fewer things, to go fewer places: all of this requires relentless prioritizing. It is easier to let things build up, get disorganized, say yes to all invitations and commitments. It is easier in the short-run, that is. In the long run, it is healthier to have priorities and stick to what is important to you. Getting into alignment with priorities is a crucial component of happiness.
Living simply, rather than saying yes to everything, makes choices easier to make. If we have a problem nowadays, it is too much information, too much entertainment, too much stimulation, too many options, too many grocery stores, too many online resources. If we learn how to limit ourselves and our countless options, it is good for simplicity, sanity and success in life. If you have fewer clothes in your closet, but all functional and good, you will have an easier time picking out what to wear, organizing and storing your clothes, and more time for what is important. If you limit the amount of Pinterest or food blogs you read, maybe you will master a few recipes from that one cookbook you have. If you clean your house more often, maybe you will realize how much stuff you actually have (and how long it takes to clean it all) and try to use it better or throw it out if you don’t use it.
We live in an era where acquiring things is fast and easy, and consuming things is even faster. I am rereading the Little House books and part of their charm is the house being little. They had so few things and so few priorities (surviving, family, etc.) that it was a very focused and intense lifestyle. Everything they owned was packed into a wagon from time to time and moved along. What didn’t fit was left behind. Their time was spent on things that were truly essential to them and not on countless hobbies or decorating or latest educational trends.
The Church also invites us to an inner minimalism this season, to strip away all that takes us from the one priority, the one path to return to our Father’s house, the one goal of holiness here on Earth. We are invited to fast from things that we consider essential, like food, to realize we can be even more minimalist that that. We are invited to focus on the bigger picture of salvation history and strip away our desperate need for acquiring things, doing things and general distracting ourselves from our feeble condition as “dust”.
What are some ways you practice minimalism?