Some may not “buy” the idea of living minimally – after all, doesn’t it involve throwing away your prized possessions? At first thought, it does seem counterintuitive. In reality, it actually gives us even more freedom to do something far more valuable. There’s no big “secret” here – nothing to sell. Well, perhaps you’re being sold on a big idea: that giving back to society and community can create more joy and happiness than buying anything ever could.
In my past posts, I have focused on minimalism, reduction, and on doing/achieving more with less. A variety of topics were discussed, including tips on decluttering, simple recipes, and exercising with just bodyweight routines.
So what is the ultimate message of this way of thinking?
To eliminate distractions, clear one’s head, and ultimately, to figure out how to best give back.
“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” – Greek proverb
As you downsize aspects of your life, you will inevitably come to the conclusion that true satisfaction comes from working towards a goal you believe in. In short, we all need a higher purpose that motivates us to do our best every day. (This assumes that all of one’s basic needs have been met.)
Your purpose is anything you choose it to be. While there’s no time limit on deciding (or discovering) what it’s going to be, it is never too early to think about how exactly you will leave your mark.
If in doubt, try to answer the following: what is it about you that makes you ideal for giving back to your family, your local community, or the world? Do you have any special talents or inclinations? What about experience in a particular field that you have accumulated over the years? Take the time to really think about this.
We can give back in many ways. We can give our money (e.g. to charities, family/friends, promising business ventures), our time (e.g. in the form of our expertise, volunteer work), our support (e.g. our care and concern).
Some tips on giving back:
- It doesn’t have to be a massive contribution, as long as it’s useful and meaningful. You can work a full-time job and give back, too (on your days off, for instance). It can be as simple as planting a tree, or feeding the homeless in your neighborhood.
- If you’re giving away money, do it with the expectation that you won’t get it back in return (even if it’s officially a loan, it’s best to think that it won’t ever come back).
- If this way of thinking is not something you’re used to, start small. Practice little acts of giving: donate some books to the local library, or unused clothing to a shelter. Most importantly, get into the habit of giving – and watch as your innate feelings of selfishness (none of us are immune) turn to those of generosity.
- Whatever you do, render your service with joy. It is no good for anyone if you’re not enjoying the process (and the act) of giving. Don’t force it – this all comes back to sitting down and figuring out what the best way is for you.
We learn to live well with less so that we can give back more – and hopefully, make the world just a bit better as a result.