It might surprise you that I don’t read a lot of books about minimalism. When I started decluttering 10 years ago, I read a few books that helped me. Since then, I’ve internalized enough knowledge – through my experience and helping others – to keep me on the simplicity path.
So when Becoming Minimalist writer Joshua Becker sent me a copy of his new book Things That Matter I wasn’t sure if there would be much for me to glean from a fellow minimalist writer.
I was very, very wrong.
Big heads up: This book is not about minimalism. It’s about living your best and most intentional life. And as Joshua told me, he has some “unpopular opinions” about how to go about that.
Joshua writes about overcoming distractions in order to live a more meaningful life. But the “distractions” he talks about are not the typical ones we’re all familiar with: screens, social media, overflowing to-do lists.
He lists eight distractions that keep us from living our best lives:
- Past Mistakes
If you’re as intrigued as I was about how things like “happiness” and “leisure” can be distractions, you’ll want to read this book!
Two sections of the book really hit me hard. (And yes, I think these were the “unpopular opinions” he warned me about!)
First, he wrote extensively about how saving money can be a distraction.
Now, I’m a frugal gal, a Dave Ramsey follower, a FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) enthusiast. I’m all about saving and investing for my future.
But Joshua makes a very good point about how much of the money we’re saving “for the future” (often with no more designation than that) could make more of an impact if we used it now.
In particular, he shares the story of when he received the first big advance for one of his books. Instead of putting it toward his kids’ college funds (as many of us would) he chose to use it to start a non-profit organization called The Hope Effect that is revolutionizing orphan care worldwide. (Yes, Joshua Becker is a better person than most of us, let’s all just admit it!)
This entire section of the book got me thinking… What am I saving all this money for? Do I really believe that if I don’t save it now, that there will never be any more money for me in the future?
I’d never considered my emphasis on saving to be a distraction. I thought it was a hallmark of my good and responsible citizenship. But honestly, I’m rethinking that view.
Second, he focuses on living a life of service.
Joshua writes about how the pursuit of leisure can be a distraction from our best lives. He aptly titles this chapter “Beaches Get Boring” and digs into traditional ideas about vacation and retirement.
Now, he’s not against rest. Not at all. But he’s clearly against living a life focused on the next vacation or reaching retirement age.
“Leisure doesn’t provide meaning. It provides renewal for other things that do provide meaning.”
Again, this challenged me. While I love my work and do feel that what I provide is of service to others, I’m also tempted by the idea of retiring early. I love the thought of being on the beach every day and going on fantastic vacations to parts of the world I’ve never seen.
But… To what end? How would living a life like that improve the world or serve others? And would it truly feel fulfilling to live that way?
Joshua makes a very clear point that the most fulfilling work we can do is work that is of service to others. I’m quite sure he’s right.
To summarize, I loved this book. And not just because I think Joshua Becker’s a great guy. It challenged me to be a better person. I underlined and starred a ton of quotes. I’m going to keep it on my bookshelf to remind me of the person I want to be and the impact I want to have on others.
If you want to get your own copy, click here. You won’t regret it. Because nobody regrets a life full of things that truly matter.