Joshua Becker is one of the most down-to-earth simple living writers out there. He’s been writing for a decade, and he’s one of the biggest names in the community online. One of the reasons he’s so accessible is because he’s part of a normal suburban family that lives “typical lives.”
Simplify is interesting because he wrote it when he was in his early thirties in 2010 — just a couple years into his minimalism transformation. By this time, he had already defined “rational minimalism” (not to be confused with Fumio Sasaki’s more radical minimalism).
This post will take you through a summary of the Simplify eBook. You can get it on Amazon for a couple bucks, or get a free copy by subscribing to his email list on BecomingMinimalist.com.
Quick Summary of Simplify: 7 Guiding Principles to Help Anyone Declutter their Home and Life by Joshua Becker
- Joshua takes the reader through his aha moment for minimalism, his definition of rational minimalism, and 7 guiding principles, 10 benefits, and 5 aspects of minimalism.
- “If minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things that I most value, it is also about deciding what is most important in my life and removing the things that distract me from it. It is about removing the urgent for the sake of the important.”
- The book ends with “simplicity’s invitation” and an adapted version of the tourist and the fisherman story.
His Minimalism Aha Moment
I highlighted Joshua’s story before in this post: 11 Slow & Simple Living Leaders Share Their “Why”
I actually love the simplicity of his story. It was something dramatic like my existential crisis. It was a normal day and a simple conversation. If only we could all convert after something as simple as that! He says minimalism was an “easy choice” that “resonated with my soul from the very beginning.”
His aha moment happened while he was frustrated cleaning out his garage and had a conversation with his neighbor:
- (Joshua) “Well, you know what they say, ‘The more stuff you own, the more your stuff owns you.’ Her next sentence struck a chord with my mind, heart, and soul, and changed the course of my life forever.”
- (Neighbor) “That’s why my daughter is a minimalist. She keeps telling me that I don’t need all this stuff!”
- (Joshua) “Call me uneducated, naive, whatever you want – but I had never heard the term minimalist before. Yet, somehow, it was the one word that defined a desire that had been building in my heart. I went inside to tell my wife about my short conversation. Her response was the same as mine, ‘I think that’s what I want.’…I immediately went to the computer (garage still unfinished) and began researching the idea of minimalism. I found a variety of websites that described a simple lifestyle focused on owning just the essentials of life and removing the clutter. The more I read, the more I wanted it. And a minimalist was born.”
What is Rational Minimalism?
- “Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from it.”
- “Maybe that is why I have been called a ‘rational minimalist.’ I have become one of the leading proponents for ‘rational minimalism’ and wear the label with pride.”
Who is Rational Minimalism for?
- “A simple, minimal lifestyle has benefits for all.”
- “We live typical lives… just like you. And if this family of four living in the suburbs can simplify their home and life, so can you!”
The 7 Simplify Guiding Principles
1) Be Convinced
- This first principle includes 10 benefits ranging from spending and stressing less to freedom and financial impacts (Note: Check out FIRE: Financial Independence Retire Early)
- “Our actions will always follow the true desire of our heart. What our heart believes and loves always determines the path of our life. We can mask our true wants for only a short while.”
2) Make It Work For You
- He defines minimalism in 5 aspects. My two favorites were: “We will intentionally promote the things we most value” and “We will live a counter-cultural life that is attractive to others.”
3) Jump Right In!
- “For many, the idea of decluttering their home seems daunting… or even worse. It may be helpful to consider the process more like training for a marathon. You don’t declutter your whole house the first day out… you start with a small, manageable job and build your way up.” (Note: This goes against Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, but to each their own!)
- “The motto in our house is, ‘Everything has a home.'”
- He talks about the difference between leveling and minimizing. Leveling is just moving clutter to a different level of your house. Minimizing is getting rid of it or finding a home for it.
- “A general rule of thumb to guide you is, ‘If it isn’t essential, remove it.'”
- “A typical person wears 20% of their clothes 80% of the time.”
4) Stop The Trend
- “The National Association of Professional Organizers says we spend one year of our lives looking for lost items.”
- I love that his monthly budget outlined includes “Blockbuster Online” ha!
- “The end of our lives will be much the same. It will be another moment when everything gets flipped upside-down. At that moment, we won’t care about how many hours we had worked, we’ll just care about the time we spent with family and friends and probably wish we had done it more. We won’t care about the size of our bank account or the things we had acquired… we’ll care about the difference we have made, the lives we have changed, and the legacy we have left.”
- “Recognize your ‘Clutter Collection Sites.'”
6) Share The Joy
- “The attractiveness of minimalism…seems so universal that I can’t help think that this is the way life is meant to be lived.”
- “We were never meant to live life accumulating stuff. We were meant to live simply enjoying the experiences of life, the people of life, and the journey of life – not the things of life.”
7) Simplify Everywhere
- “What then, are the ‘big rocks’ in your life? Since becoming minimalist, we have been able to identify the big rocks in our lives – our kids, our friends, our faith, our goals, and our influence. Simplifying life is about identifying the big rocks, putting them in the jar, and intentionally eliminating the little rocks.” (Note: Similar idea to identifying your life roles using the Four Burners Theory)
Other Books by Joshua Becker
- The Minimalist Home: A Room-by-Room Guide to a Decluttered, Refocused Life (coming December 2018)
- The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own (2016)
- Clutterfree with Kids: Change your thinking. Discover new habits. Free your home (2014)
More Posts Highlighting Joshua Becker:
- “The Minimalist Home” — 5 Themes & Free Chapter (Book Preview)
- An Introduction to Simplify Magazine (Issue 001 Summary)
- Simplify Magazine (Issue 002 Preview/Summary)
Have you decluttered or are you on your way to minimalism? I started my minimalism journey with clothing (stopped buying and got rid of a bunch):
- How Minimalism Helped Me Stop Buying Clothes in 12 of the Last 16 Months
- Oops Minimalism: How I Spent $0 on Clothing for 6 Months Without Trying
Slow Living Resources
Also published on Medium.