Mental and emotional minimalism

November 21, 2011

in Aff Link, Beyond the Marriage, LESSisMORE, Links to good stuff, Seeing Clearly

More is not always more © Alexandr Mitiuc | Dreamstime.com

I think it would be safe to sum up the research on more choices leading to less happiness (The paradox of choice) as “less is more”. When we have too many choices, or too many things, we are not actually happier – despite what we think/believe. Please know that I say this even though I do not want it to be true! I want to defend my “right” to have many choices and more things if I so chose. For some odd reason, I want “more can make us happier” to be truth even though research and my own life say otherwise. Then of course, there is the Bible – it’s almost as if God knew these things before some clever researchers figured them out!

To me this all sounds a lot like minimalism. Not just minimalism as in having very few things, but as in having a simpler life. Maybe it’s sacrificing stuff, and choices, for mental and emotional health and balance. Maybe our marriages would be far better if we had less, and did less. Maybe we need more of each other and of simple times with other people. I’ve said maybe here a number of times because this is outside both my experience and my comfort zone. Pray about it, discuss it with your bride, and see how it goes.

Also, please kick this idea around in the comments – I’d like to hear what others think, and especially from those who are living it.

Speaking of minimalism: Joshua Becker’s book Simplify (Kindle edition) is an excellent read. (Also available for Nook and other devices.) 

Links may be monetised
Image Credit: © Alexandr Mitiuc | Dreamstime.com

Shop to give links page

7 comments
Robert Wall
Robert Wall

The "more makes us happier" has been researched, and (at least in the US) it's been determined that money increases happiness up until somewhere between $60k and $70k a year. But after that point of saturation, there's no increase in overall happiness that comes with additional income. I think that applies to stuff as well. If you like to build things, having a hammer will increase your happiness. But having twenty hammers isn't likely to make you any happier. The key, to me, is finding your threshold. Great post!

NJ
NJ

When there are many options I feel paralyzed because I want to make the best possible choice, and usually there are many excellent alternatives. Ironically, giving up some options and going minimalist (to whatever degree you choose) is also a choice. In this way choosing a minimalist lifestyle is very different from being poor. When you are poor, it is poverty that limits your options. The limits are not self-imposed and are often undesirable. So the flip side of too many choices is that having too few can also be a bad thing...

John
John

When my wife and I were first married we had nothing at all, and it was fantastic. Once we had kids that necessarily changed because I took on the responsibility of eventually providing for them, including college. That meant purchasing a home, accumulating assets, etc.

Jonathan
Jonathan

Isn't it obvious? Where is it easier to order a meal? A chinese restaurant or a fish and chips shop? We end up getting the same 5 things every time we eat Chinese even thouugh there are fully 150 dishes on the menu. Much easier just to order fish and chips.

Matthew
Matthew

My wife and I are both minimalists, though she tends to come by it far more naturally than I do. (Not to the extent that we live with less than 100 things, but we carefully evaluate each new thing/activity that comes into our life.) It didn't take us long to realize how much we need time with each other (we've been married about 3.5 years) and that we just aren't quite as happy when we don't get that quality time.

Jack Stockdale
Jack Stockdale

Ten years ago my wife and I became foreign missionaries and moved to a former communist country. We did without some of the "necessities" we had grown to expect as being part of everyday life. The flat we now live in (we've lived in three different homes here) is very small by American standards. The kitchen could even be called microscopic. A large percentage of the population here take a stroll as a family on Sunday afternoon. That's all the "entertainment" many people can afford. We love the simple lifestyle and the fact that our choices are very limited. We feel none the poorer for all the stuff we don't have.

Cokieb
Cokieb

I think I have to agree with the "Less can be more" theory. I did say "can" which is kind of like maybe and here is my reasoning. My dear bride and I (of almost 30 years) have the wonderful pleasure and ability to do almost anything we really want to do. Now don't get me wrong we are both very hard working people and spend a great deal of our time at work. My wife works two jobs (because she wants to) and I work one that takes a great deal of time and effort because I'm to stupid to quit. Anyway, we spend a lot of our time working and when we are at home the routine is the same. Computer, television and then bed at an early hour to rise again very early the next day and start all over again. We travel quite a bit of the time (I much more than her) including a lot paid for by the company I work for where I get to take my bride with me, they are work related trips. We have a small ranch where we both love to go. We have a smaller farm where we live. And on and on with all the stuff we have. We are very much in love with each other but we haven't been showing it to each other and this doesn't work well for a marriage. I might add that we do have a 21 year old son in college which proves to be very rewarding to us, he is a wonderful young man. The thing that I see has happened is that we go and do so much that it has allowed us to become entertained with all the other instead of each other. We have both been working on the paying attention and loving each other more and will continue to do so. Of course I think it's harder for me because I currently am working on a more intimate relationship (several different aspects of intimacy) with my bride and this is not proving to be easy, which I didn't figure it would be. Nevertheless, what has allowed us to get to this point of running in our different directions and not being focused on each other and our relationship are all the other things that we have at our finger tips. I am now for going more simplistic. Stay at home or go to the ranch together, go outside and have a glass of wine. Turn off the computers, Blackberries, Iphones, television and spend the time with your spouse, not wired by some gadget. If you are younger in your relationship you can not imagine how easy it is to drift apart (while still being very much in love) and how before you know it many years have gone by and you realize what you both have missed out on. Blessing for your day,

Previous post:

Next post: