I am so excited to have been chosen to review a new book by Joshua Becker. I’ve never met him in real life. I stumbled across his blog, Becoming Minimalist, this past spring and liked it. So, I subscribed to his feed. When he announced the launch of his new book, Living With Less: An Unexpected Key to Happiness, I wanted in.
My family is on our own journey to finding simplicity, at least something simpler than what we have. It’s definitely a process, not an overnight 180. Living With Less delves into more than chucking all your possessions and becoming a hitchhiker. He recounts his family’s experience with backing away from the social norm of a big house stuffed with everything imaginable and describes how he and his wife put their family first. Rather than clean out the garage, a monthly project for many, he chose to play ball with his son. What a concept!
The book targets teens and young adults. The audience that most needs this message of happiness with less. If they can get the concept that success and fulfillment are not tied to how much you own but how much you live, they stand a chance of breaking out of the hamster cage in which so many Americans find themselves. Some people never realize that the wheel they’re running on does not go anywhere, but the next generation can do better.
He compares how the average American lives to the life of Jesus. Of course, there are a few thousand years between us and him, but our cultures aren’t as different as you might think at first glance. Many people then were overly concerned with how they appeared in public. Did they have the right robe? Talk to the right people? Get invited to the right parties? Wash their hands just right? Few were willing to be different. Only twelve left their jobs and families to live with him full time and learn his teachings. And one of them still didn’t get it after three years. The American church isn’t much different. It has dumbed-down most of the gospel to make it socially acceptable, thus nullifying its message of life changing hope.
Joshua introduces the concept of a new way of life. One defined by your goals and dreams, not society’s. He outlines his family’s minimalist lifestyle, but doesn’t hold it as the standard for everyone else’s. Most importantly, he lists the benefits of minimalism. There are some real duh factors here, like a smaller, less cluttered home is easier to clean. You’d be surprised how many miss that obvious fact. Really? You want to spend your day off dusting, vacuumming, mopping, scrubbing, and organizing instead of relaxing, having fun with friends, doing a hobby, or traveling? Well, be my guest. Catch me at the pool when you’re done.
Another favorite is if you buy less, you owe less. “With each purchase, we sign away a little piece of our lives.” There isn’t a business class in the country that teaches that.
I hadn’t thought of it before, but Joshua’s book made me realize how many problems simplicity would solve, not just in individual lives, but in society, as a whole. Petty theft would virtually disappear if people were satisfied with what they have. No need to embezzle when you live on what you make. Generousity toward your neighbors could eliminate the need for homeless shelters and food pantries, or at the very least stock them to overflowing rather than making them beg for every cent they get.
He sums it all up nicely, “Your life is far too valuable to waste chasing material possessions. Find more joy today and throughout the rest of your life by choosing to pursue ‘greater,’ rather than ‘more.’ “
Living With Less is an easy read with 13 short and concise chapters, but it will convict you to make changes. One chapter even outlines how the reader can begin the journey to minimalism. It’s not strictly a how-to, but an idea generator. It would be a great book to use in a youth group or young adult class. Even better as a gift to a high school or college graduate.
Great job, Joshua!
Note: If you purchase the book from my link, I will be compensated as an Amazon affiliate. However, my review is 100% my own opinion.