Minimalism A to Z: F Is for Freedom

Freedom

“Own less stuff. Enjoy more freedom. It really is that simple.”

– Joshua Becker

You may have noticed that friends and family who have way more money than you do seem to believe certain things – things you don’t have – are true necessities. You might think these people are a bit ridiculous. After all, you’re living just fine without that stuff.

The funny thing is, if you talk to people who have less than you, you’re likely to find that they think a lot of what you consider “needs” are really just “wants.”

The inescapable fact is people tend to become accustomed to what they have. Things that once seemed like luxuries begin to feel like necessities. Worse, as-yet unaffordable items and experiences often feel like needs, too.

“Money never made a man happy yet, nor will it. The more a man has, the more he wants. Instead of filling a vacuum, it makes one.”

– Benjamin Franklin

Most of us think having a lot of money would make us happy. Well, maybe it wouldn’t buy us freedom from worrying about our kids, love or immortality, but surely it would at least free us from worries about money.

Nope.

Several years ago, a survey of very wealthy people disclosed that most of them did not consider themselves financially secure. That might not sound too odd, until you learn that the survey respondents’ average net worth was $78 million.

Let me repeat that: Becoming a multimillionaire is unlikely to be enough for you to feel financially secure.

One of the researchers said it seems that the “only people in this country who worry more about money than the poor are very wealthy. They worry about losing it, they worry about how it is invested, they worry about the effect it is going to have. And as the zeroes increase, the dilemmas get bigger.”

“The things you own end up owning you. It’s only after you lose everything that you’re free to do anything.”

– Chuck Palahniuk, via Tyler Durden in Fight Club

This Tyler Durden quote is reminiscent of the famous line in Janis Joplin’s song, Me and Bobby McGee: “Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose.”

Few of us want that much freedom, but it’s true that the more stuff we have, the more we worry about it.

We worry about losing it or having it stolen. We worry about dents and scratches. We worry about upkeep and downtime.

Plus, possessions can keep us from doing activities we enjoy. After all, stuff costs time, as well as money.

“Living with less provides tremendous freedom.”

– Courtney Carver

It may seem counter-intuitive, but when you talk to minimalists (or read what they’ve written), you hear over and over that minimalism leads to freedom.

By learning to focus more on experiences and relationships and to focus less on your possessions, you free yourself up to live with less money.

Maybe you can work part-time or retire earlier. Maybe you can start your own business or take the job you’ve always wanted but didn’t feel you could afford because of the required pay cut.

Living in a smaller home with less stuff and decluttering our calendars gives us more free time to do what we love. Hang out with friends and family. Hike. Knit. Ski. Cook. Read. Draw. Kayak. Write. Whatever your passions are.

Minimalism leads to less stress and more inner peace.

Less rushing and more relaxing.

Fewer obligations and more freedom.

Have you found simplifying has brought more freedom to your life?

6 thoughts on “Minimalism A to Z: F Is for Freedom

  1. Hello Christy, A wonderful post! I especially love “Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose.” So true!
    Wishing you well, Carol

  2. Shortly into our retirement we sold our house and most of our worldly goods and moved into a motorhome to go touring this great country. Talk about freedom! When we came back off the road a few years later we went shopping one day, bought a few basic pieces of furniture, and had it delivered to our small apartment. Talk about the easiest move ever! Freedom from stuff is freedom indeed.

  3. Simplifying has definitely brought me more freedom! It was after I purged years of accumulated stuff that I found time to return to refinishing furniture or had the time to tackle starting a community garden.

    I’ve seen many examples of both the rich not feeling content and those with less feeling the necessity to own things I think are unnecessary. I have a friend who struggles financially yet each member of the household has their own game system and a couple have hand held systems as well. Every member of the family from elementary age on up has their own cell phone. On the other hand, I had an uncle who married into money. He was busy bragging about all the insurance they had to carry on the jewelry and which pieces had to be locked in a safe at the bank. Those pieces his wife had to plan to wear because it involved a trip to the bank during business hours to remove them so they could be worn. He watched his investments and the stock markets multiple times a day. He became a different person, he went from a fun, full of life man to one obsessed about money and his belongings.

    Now what we need is that happy medium that seems so elusive to so many.

    • Thanks for sharing, Lois. I have noticed, too, that in most cases, people want to find out for themselves that money and stuff (beyond that necessary for safe and comfortable living) don’t buy happiness.

      That’s so sad about your uncle. It’s funny how easily we become obsessed with holding on to things we never even used to have – and lived just fine without. It seems the human brain has some pretty odd wiring.

I'd love for you to share your ideas and experiences.