Good art enters the soul, appeals to the heart, and makes new ideas plausible.
dedicated to those who have modeled for me the joys of a united heart.
ÂŠ 2010 by Joshua Becker. All rights reserved.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Joshua Becker writes regularly at Becoming Minimalist – a blog dedicated to inspiring others to pursue minimalism and simplicity. He is the author of two books: Simplify and Inside-Out Simplicity. He lives in Essex, Vermont with his beautiful wife and two small children, ages 7 and 4. As one of today's leading proponents of “rational minimalism”, Joshua presents a unique approach to simplicity that is based in the heart, soul, and mind. You will enjoy his unique blend of illustrative stories, theoretical principle, and practical application. After all, if his typical family of four living in the suburbs can simplify their life, so can you!
TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE THE BOOK I WAS AFRAID TO WRITE
THE BOOK I COULDN’T WAIT TO WRITE
WHAT IS SIMPLICITY?
WHY RELATIONSHIPS MATTER
1. OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH OURSELVES
2. OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHERS
3. OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH OUR SPOUSE
4. OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH OUR CHILDREN
5. OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH POSSESSIONS/MONEY
6. WHY OUR WORDS MATTER
7. WHY OUR SEXUALITY MATTERS
8. WHY OUR SPIRITUALITY MATTERS
WELCOME TO THE BOOK I WAS AFRAID TO WRITE The idea for this book has been swirling in my mind for years. The outline has been on paper for months. Even many of the words had already been written. Yet, I was afraid to finish it. I have been nervous to release Inside-Out Simplicity because I know that issues of morality, lifestyle, and inside-out simplicity tend to be controversial. People get defensive. And they begin making assumptions about you and your motives. For that reason, I want to alleviate any fear that you or I may have concerning the contents of this book by attempting to address the four most common assumptions that are going to arise in the minds of the reader:
ASSUMPTION #1: THE AUTHOR THINKS HEâ€™S PERFECT TRUTH: I'm human. I struggle with many of the same relationship principles in this book... just like you. Believe me, I wish I was more generous, more encouraging, and more forgiving. I'm far from perfect â€“ just ask my wife. But I do believe that a simple life begins with a unified soul. And a unified soul begins by adopting many of the relational principles included in this book.
ASSUMPTION #2: THE AUTHOR THINKS HE’S BETTER THAN ME. TRUTH: Nothing could be further from the truth. We all have weaknesses. We excel in some areas and struggle in others. I do not think I am better than you. I have already humbly admitted that I wrestle with many of the topics covered in this book. I have the same struggles as you. We’re all humans together. Throughout most of this book I am writing to myself - just trying to further my life along this journey to simplicity as well as yours.
ASSUMPTION #3: THIS STANDARD IS TOO DIFFICULT. TRUTH: The principles in this book do not outline the prerequisites for simplicity. They do not define the starting line. Instead, they define the finish line - the ultimate goal. But simplicity in life can be found in the journey towards these principles. Begin to adopt them, one by one, and you will understand what I mean.
ASSUMPTION #4: I DISAGREE WITH ONE POINT, THE WHOLE BOOK IS WRONG. TRUTH: At some point during your reading, you are going to disagree with me (I assume the chapters on sexuality and spirituality will be particularly debated). Or at least, it is my hope that you disagree at some point along the way. This book is meant to challenge your heart at its deepest levels. It is meant to make new ideas plausible. Therefore, I hope you disagree at some point... and that new ideas cause all of us to think harder about this journey called life. And may we all become better because of it. Now that I’ve gotten my fears out of the way… 7|
WELCOME TO THE BOOK I COULDN’T WAIT TO WRITE Two years ago, we became minimalists. We made the decision to intentionally minimize our possessions and simplify our life. Since then, we have been on a journey to understand what that means for us and our two children. The process of simplification has since made its way into our goals, time commitments, parenting strategy, and our marriage. Essentially, it has influenced all of the important relationships in our life. Along the way, we noticed that healthy relationships are absolutely essential to a simplified life. And I couldn’t wait to share what we’ve observed and learned along the way. Be ready. This book goes well beyond the external fixes to our complicated lives and focuses on the heart issues required for a simplified life. It is based on the premise that a truly simplified lifestyle begins in a person’s soul. And it will help the reader find an inside-out simplicity by focusing on the key life-changing principles necessary in their most important relationships. It is meant to challenge you. It is meant to encourage you. It is meant to inspire you. It is destined to help you find a simpler way of life.
WHAT IS SIMPLICITY? “Simplicity, clarity, singleness: These are the attributes that give our lives power and vividness and joy as they are also the marks of great art.” Richard Holloway Simplicity is clarity, purpose, and intentionality. It is marked by the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it. It is a life lived in unity. And once you find it, you will never go back.
SIMPLICITY IS FREEDOM FROM THE PASSION TO POSSESS Modern culture has bought into the lie that the good life is found in accumulating things - in possessing as much as possible. They believe that “more is better” and that happiness can be purchased at a department store. But they are wrong. Simplicity brings freedom from the all-consuming passion to possess. It steps off the treadmill of consumerism and dares to seek happiness elsewhere. It values relationships, experiences, and soul-care. And in doing so, it finds life.
If you desire freedom from the passion to possess, this book is for you.
SIMPLICITY IS FREEDOM FROM MODERN MANIA Our world lives at a feverish pace. We are too hurried, too rushed, and too stressed. We work long, passionate hours to pay the bills, but fall deeper into debt. We rush from one activity to another - even multitasking along the way, but never seem to get everything done. We remain in constant connection with others through our cell phones, but true life-changing relationships continue to allude us. Simplicity slows down life and frees us from this modern hysteria to live faster. It finds freedom to disengage. It seeks to keep only the essentials. It seeks to remove the frivolous and keeps the significant. And in doing so, it values the intentional endeavors that add value to life. If you desire freedom from modern mania, this book is for you.
SIMPLICITY IS FREEDOM FROM DUPLICITY. Although nobody intentionally chooses it, most people live in duplicity. They live one life around their family, one life around their co-workers, and another life around their neighbors. The lifestyle they have chosen requires them to portray a certain image dependant upon their circumstances. They are tossed and turned by the most recent advertising campaign or the demands of their employer.
On the other hand, a simple life is united and consistent. It has learned a lifestyle that is completely transferrable no matter the situation. It is the same life on Friday evening as it is on Sunday morning... as it is on Monday morning. It is reliable, dependable and unfluctuating. It works in all circumstances. If you desire unity in your life, this book is for you.
SIMPLICITY IS COUNTER-CULTURAL We live in a world that idolizes celebrities. They are photographed for magazines, interviewed on the radio, and recorded for television. Their lives are held up as the golden standard and are envied by many. People who live simple lives are not championed by the media in the same way. They donâ€™t fit into the consumerist culture that is promoted by corporations and politicians. Yet, they live a life that is attractive and inviting. While most people are chasing after success, glamour, and fame, simplicity calls out to us with a smaller, quieter, calmer voice. It invites us to slow down, consume less, but enjoy more. And when we meet someone living a simple life, we often recognize that we have been chasing after the wrong things all along. If you desire a counter-cultural life, this book is for you.
SIMPLICITY IS NOT EXTERNAL, BUT INTERNAL In my previous book, Simplify, I outline 7 guiding principles to help anyone declutter their home and life. The principles outlined in the book have helped thousands find freedom by removing much of the physical clutter in their home. The book concentrates almost exclusively on the externals of life. While it helps people find freedom from clutter, it does not take the next step of helping people find freedom and simplicity in their heart and soul. And simplicity is always a matter of the heart. This book takes the next step. It will comment occasionally on the external possessions that weigh down our life when needed, but the focus of the book gets to the deepest heart issues that impact our relationships and life. For that reason, it should be read slowly and reflectively. If you are searching for an inward simplicity, this book is definitely for you.
SIMPLICITY IS COMPLETELY ACHIEVABLE A simple life is completely achievable. My family stands as living proof. We were just your typical family of four living in the suburbs accumulating as much stuff as our income and credit cards would allow. Then, we found an inside-out simplicity. We have embraced the lifestyle with both arms and will never go back to the way life was before. We stand as living proof that simplicity is completely achievable to anyone who seeks it. | 12
WHY OUR RELATIONSHIPS MATTER. â€œNo one would choose a friendless existence on condition of having all the other things in the worldâ€? - Aristotle Relationships surround us every moment of every day. And because we live our lives in a constant state of relationship, simplicity can never be fully realized until we learn to engage each of them in a unified manner. InsideOut Simplicity is written to define the most essential, life-changing keys to these relationships that result in a simplified life. My family and I embraced minimalism as a lifestyle after a short conversation with our neighbor. We promptly removed many nonessential possessions from our home and life. Removing those possessions offered us more time, freedom, and energy to begin pursuing the things in life that we most value. Our lives became more focused and intentional. In my personal pursuit of simplicity, I quickly noticed that healthy relationships are absolutely essential for every relationship holds an important key to simplicity. They cannot be overlooked or underestimated. A healthy relationship with oneâ€™s self provides the foundation to reject the mania of modern society. Healthy relationships with our family provide the foundation to grow, improve, and prosper. Healthy relationships with our belongings provides the foundation for us to control them, rather than allowing them to control us. Relationships have the potential to simplify our life or complicate our life.
They can bring stability or they can bring volatility. They can bring unity or they can bring duplicity. They can bring joy or they can bring grief. They can bring peace or they can bring anxiety. They can add beauty or reveal nastiness. They can propel forward or hold back. They hold enormous potential for significance.
Healthy relationships are absolutely essential for simplicity. And healthy relationships always flow from the inside-out. Inside-Out Simplicity is a complete 360 degree approach to life’s relationships. It engages our relationship with ourself, with others, and with our possessions. It addresses some of the most important relationships in our life by laying out the life-changing keys to successful, simplified relationships. As I wrote earlier, It is meant to challenge you. It is meant to encourage you. It is meant to inspire you. It is destined to help you find a simpler way of life.
OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH OURSELVES. “And remember, no matter where you go, there you are.” -Confucius
SIMPLICITY BEGINS WITH US Our relationship with ourself is the most important relationship in our life. There has never been a moment when you weren’t with you in the past and there will never be a moment when you won’t be with you in the future. We are with ourselves every moment of every day. For some, this is a terrifying concept. They don’t like themselves and often wish they were someone or something different. Much of the “noise” in the world today can be attributed to this reality. After all, it is much easier to turn on the television than it is to sit in solitude with yourself. If you don’t like being with yourself, you will quickly turn on the television or ipod and invite others into your life to simply break the silence. On the other hand, some have fallen so deeply in love with themselves that they have lost all reason and objectivity. They have become so selfobsessed and self-absorbed that they have lost all ability to think about others, admit mistakes, or show restraint. A simplified life has found the balance. It has found joy and contentment in life. It has humbly embraced their uniqueness and their place in the world. And proudly helps others do the same.
Joshua Becker has been contributing to the conversation for over 2Â˝ years through his blog Becoming Minimalist which reaches nearly 50,000 visitors each month. Inside-Out Simplicity goes beyond the externals of removing physical clutter from life and heads straight to the heart dealing with issues such as contentment, gratitude, forgiveness, and commitment. His first e-book, Simplify: 7 Guiding Principles to Help Anyone Declutter Their Home and Life, has sold nearly 1,000 copies online.