E-book Review: Simplify

My husband and I live a fairly low-maintenance life. We avoid credit card debt, we cook at home the vast majority of evenings, and we talk about ways we can cut back at home and give more to our friends, church, and community. I work from home as a freelance editor and Brian pays the bills with a "real" job as an associate minister. We get by just fine, and we are pretty happy.

Unfortunately, though, we have a lot of stuff. And this bugs me. I always wanted to pare down and simplify, but I never actually did it. I used to think I didn't have the energy - and in part, this was true. But moreso, I didn't have the know-how. I had Flylady and Rachel Anne Ridge from Home Sanctuary to help me limp along - and these ladies are tremendous help - but for the longest time, I never felt that solid, resounding click that I needed to gain some real momentum.

In September of 2009, I discovered the Becoming Minimalist blog, and I found what I think of as 'real life minimalism.' There are minimalists (like Everett Bogue of Far Beyond the Stars and Leo Batauba of Zen Habits &c.) who are so inspiring and impressive, and then there are other minimalists. Minimalists for the rest of us. Minimalists for people like me. Becker calls them "rational minimalists."

Brian and I can't live with 100 things or fewer without harming our life work - which is ministering to people. I mean, we could, but it wouldn't be an effective choice for us. Our home needs to feel welcoming, comfortable and inviting. We as a couple do not get that vibe from bare-bones living.

Additionally, I like to see beauty and sentiment when I look around my home. I love my MacBook, but I'm not going to hang it on the wall and feel better for it. It'd take a strong arm to make me part with our wedding portrait or my great aunt's lace doilies. Stark walls and bare, purely utilitarian elements would suck the life right out of me. 

But flat surfaces? Yes, please. Counters with room to do food prep? Yes, please. Limited but sufficient options for mugs, or sheets, or photo albums? Yes, please. That's the kind of minimalism Joshua Becker writes about at Becoming Minimalist. So when Becker mentioned on the blog that he was offering advance copies of the e-book for review, I jumped.

This where my comments on Simplify come in. Becker wrote this e-book in the same vein that he writes his blog. Which is to say, it is personable, transparent, and accessible. In short, I think this is a great e-book for people like me.

Simplify sets out 7 basic principles for becoming minimalist. Each principle is fleshed out with personal stories from Becker, questions to consider, and bigger ideas to ponder. Numerous benefits of minimalism are spelled out, similarly to those on the website. Becker also provides his family's process for uncluttering and breaking free from the desire to buy and buy and buy, which can be helpful if you're new to those games. He suggests tips for time management, prioritizing, and attacking every angle of 'minimalizing' your life. Overall, the material is compelling and direct without being preachy or stand-offish. If anything, it's encouraging.

My favorite line from Simplify comes from the chapter on Principle #5, Persevere: Stop trying to impress others with your stuff and start trying to impress them with your life.  

Really, is there anything more compelling, and true, than that?

Let's face it. Not all of us can quit our jobs, pack all our stuff into a box, and move to New Orleans on a whim. Not all of us want to be able to do that. The choices the Beckers make are significant, but they are realistic. I never balked at something Becker suggests, the way I balk at the idea of tracking (and listing!) the exact number of my possessions, or living from a back pack, or making my guests stand or sit on the floor because I don't want two more chairs in my living room. There's nothing wrong with those lifestyle choices, but they would not be right for me. And Simplify makes that ok.

Simplify doesn't disappoint. It's practical, it's accessible, and it's real. If I had a hard copy, I would claim that I couldn't put it down, but instead, I will tell you that I didn't watch the Olympic ice dancing because I wanted to finish reading Simplify instead.

If you are like me - you want to simplify your life but you need something to inspire you to quit thinking about why you can't, and start the process of becoming minimalist - you will benefit from reading Simplify.

**Note: all links to Simplify are affiliate links. Should you purchase the book, I will receive a commission.

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