I have heard it said that “you can never have too much of a good thing”, and I believed that for a time. What I have found during the last year though is quite a different train of thought.
I discovered that too much good food can make me feel sick, and potentially pack on unnecessary and unwanted fat. Too much good coffee can keep me awake all night. Many clothes means more laundry, and it also means more closet or dresser space. Ultimately, I realized that I had been brought up in a culture of more. Seeking a good deal not to save money, but to have money left over for more stuff; and the more I bought, the more I wanted….truly a vicious cycle.
I remember being frustrated with life a couple of years ago. Some bad stuff happened, but I believe that just drew out and maximized the discontent that was already growing inside of me; and I was trying to hide it.
Life was good. Life was so good, yet I allowed comparisons, expectations, and regret to convince me that I had a right to be unhappy. I had become accustomed to instant gratification instead of long term gain. I resisted investing money, but jumped on a chance to buy another shirt, get a hotel, or go out to dinner. I needed to feel wanted and included by everyone in my life, so I laid unfair expectations on my friends and family. I wanted more…more of everything, and it was destroying who I was.
One of the events a couple years ago that brought me closer to rock bottom (figuratively) was the death of my dad. Diagnosed with lung cancer at the end of November 2015, he died January 4, 2016. He was a rock in my life, and I missed him (and still miss him) more than I thought I ever would. Later that year, I slipped off of a boulder while rock climbing, and landed face first. I lost two teeth, broke four more, and split open my chin and lip…literal rock bottom.
I had a month off of work after that accident. I couldn’t do much, talk much, or eat much; but I had plenty of time alone with my thoughts. That was not a place I wanted to be. I usually kept busy to handle sadness, anger, or disappointment; but now, I had to deal with it. I could no longer hide in a crowd, or behind a smile… literally.
Now let’s jump forward. 2016 ended much better than it started. I had sought out some counseling (at the request of my ever so patient, loving, and tolerant wife), and began to truly deal with who I was. It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t pretty; but it was good. I didn’t want to run away from my emotions any more, I wanted to understand why I was feeling the way I was, and get to the root of the issues. I began to declutter my life, which inevitably led me to find minimalism.
I found that less truly was more, and I removed a lot of stuff (both physical and emotional) from my life. I began to find it easier to focus on what mattered and accept who I was. I had to learn from mistakes instead of dwelling and covering them up. I had to look at each day as a gift, as a chance to live better than the day before.
My family and I have removed A LOT of stuff from our house, and we have developed a renewed appreciation for what we already have. We have tried to consume less, and have a level of mindfulness for what we do consume. We have a long way to go, but this is a journey not a destination. Since joining the “minimalist” movement, I have found a greater sense of purpose; and a greater sense of responsibility to share our story.
Perhaps “you can’t have too much of a good thing” is intended to transcend possessions or consumables altogether. Perhaps the intangible aspects of life such as friendship, mindfulness, focus, compassion, and the like are the intent of the phrase.
Let us bring much good to this world, and may we find enjoyment along the way.