As the maker of my home, I seek to create a place of belonging and welcome through the use of purposeful simplicity.
Perhaps you are acquainted with the minimalism movement happening these days. One of spareness and simplicity. A movement returning to the essentials and even in some cases, less than necessities. A striping away of the excess in order to find the essence.
While I appreciate minimalism to some degree, I am not a minimalist to a tee. Instead, I have adapted minimalism for my own purposes, if I may.
Recently, I watched the documentary, Minimalism. The film highlighted everyone’s need for purpose, and The Minimalists‘ journey has been one of finding renewed clarity and purpose through applying the ideals of minimalism to their lives. Getting rid of the excess, retaining only the essentials. The mental and physical room to breathe invigorated their lives so much so that they couldn’t help but share their stories.
In the documentary, I heard a clip from a speech by Jimmy Carter I had never heard before and it grabbed my attention:
“It’s clear that the true problems of our Nation are much deeper – deeper than gasoline lines or energy shortages, deeper even than inflation or recession… In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns. But we’ve discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning. We’ve learned that piling up material goods cannot fill the emptiness of lives which have no confidence or purpose”
Carter’s words start to uncover why purposeful simplicity is an important and effective tool in creating a home of belonging and welcome. In a time when America was over-using energy and depleting resources, Carter made this speech to the American people which seems just as relevant today in our current age of excess.
The World at Our Fingertips
The symptoms of excess are externally visible: burgeoning waistlines, maxed-out credit cards, and over-stuffed closets. Five car garages and a constant stream entertainment at our fingertips. True purpose clouded by the overwhelming amount of things we own and consume.
For some, this extreme over-consumption causes the craving for simplicity.
Perhaps you have experienced this – I can’t imagine living long without knowing the sensation of feeling consumed by the desire for something, whether it be food, a book, clothes, or an experience. Then comes the relief and satisfaction of finally getting it. However, not much time passes, and you already have your eye on something else.
The longing unable to be satisfied by material goods.
I love how Carter highlights the human identity as needing to be defined by more than the physical world. Isn’t that the reason we end up looking for another thing to satisfy our longing? We all yearn to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, to find a meaning that satisfies.
When I was in college, I attended a conference where a speaker brought three chairs on stage. His illustration changed the way I framed my identity and decision making in a lot of ways, and I have never forgotten it.
The speaker said the first chair is who you are; the second is who you know; and the third chair is what you do.
And his point was that the first chair – who you are – determines who you know which determines what you do. To try to change what you do without changing who you are is a fruitless effort. But to change who you are and what you value will alter what you do.
A change in who you are is the only way to change your life.
It’s this question of identity that provides the key to satisfy that deep longing for purpose we all as humans possess. No matter how much stuff we own or consume, our lives feel empty without a guiding purpose.
Purposefully Simplified Home
So, what does this have to do with the home? The same ideas apply to our homes.
A guiding purpose for your home answers who your home will be and defines what your home should do.
We spend so much time finding images of what we want our home to look like. But how often do we consider what we want our homes to be. If our home were a person, consider who it would be.
And so that leads me to the guiding purpose of my home: to create a place of belonging and welcome. With that purpose, I employ purposeful simplicity to help me make a home reflective of our core values.
In parts two and three, I will share my why of purposeful simplicity, as well as, how it plays out in my home and life.
For now, have you ever considered the guiding purpose of your home? If your home were a person, who would you want it to be?