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This post is Part 1 of a 3-part blog series on Minimalism.

I’ve been listening to a great podcast recently called The Minimalists. Throughout the podcast, they call into question the basic assumption in our culture that having more money and more stuff will make us happy. In contrast, they challenge us to limit the amount of stuff we have, so we have space to live our lives with more meaning and purpose.

Over and over, they focus on a key question to ask yourself when you are thinking about purchasing something: Does it add value to your life?  

What does it mean to add value to your life? Something can add value to your life in two ways:

  1. It can serve an important function. One way something can add value to your life is if it serves an important function. In other words, does it help you do something essential for your life? For example, I use my coffee pot every morning to make my morning cup of coffee. The coffee pot serves an important function in my life, so it adds value.
  2. It can truly bring you joy. A second way something can add value to your life is if it truly brings you joy. Do you feel a deep sense of happiness when you use the particular item? One example of this was when my wife and I were trying to decide how big of an apartment to get. I was fine with a tiny apartment, but my wife wanted a place that could fit a kitchen table, so we could have space for guests. Having people over truly brings her joy, so the larger apartment adds value.

These questions are important to ask yourself before making a purchase. If the thing you want to buy will serve an important function or truly bring you joy, then go for it. It will add value to your life. But if the answer to these questions isn’t a FULL YES, it’s probably a good idea to pass on the purchase.

Also, set aside some time to take an inventory of the stuff in your house. Honestly consider each thing you own. Does it serve an important function? Does it truly bring you joy? Does it add value? If the answer isn’t a FULL YES, consider donating the item so that someone else can use it and find value from it.

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