What will it take to live as if I would not another day,
To live without despair, to be without distain?
—City & Colour, “Hope for Now”
In the Beginning
I was lost. But I made it look like I knew the way.
That was a couple years ago—back when I had the job, the paycheck, and all the stuff, all of which formed my personal identity, an identity I clung to with a reptilian clutch. But I wasn’t happy. And buying more stuff didn’t fill the emptiness I felt inside.
I tried anyway, thinking maybe if I bought more stuff, I’d be happy.
But I wasn’t.
I wasn’t content because I wasn’t living a meaningful life. I wasn’t healthy. I wasn’t focused on my relationships. I wasn’t pursuing my passions. I wasn’t growing as an individual. And I wasn’t contributing to others as much as I wanted.
Then I stumbled across minimalism via Colin Wright, Joshua Becker, and Leo Babauta right before my mother died. After she passed, I learned a lot from letting go of her sentimental items. It was incredibly difficult, but letting go made me question all the stuff in my life as well—all the anchors that were weighing me down and keeping me from being happy.
Eventually, I embraced minimalism. As I got rid of my stuff, I replaced it with important things, focusing on the five most important areas in life: health, relationships, pursuing my passions, growth, and contribution—making subtle changes every day.
Minimalism was the tool I used to clear the runway so I could focus on these things and live a meaningful life. Ryan and I wrote about this journey extensively in Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life.