Review: Joshua Becker’s Inside-Out Simplicity
Joshua Becker’s Becoming Minimalist blog is one of the been-around and go-to minimalism blogs that I’ve subscribed to since first stumbling across the Minimalist community. I don’t always agree with him, but I like the way he writes, and there’s a ton of insight in his posts that’s always worth considering. His first book, Simplify, is a well-regarded uncluttering guide and proved the author doesn’t just talk the talk, he walks the walk. Now he has a new, more challenging and far-ranging book, Inside-Out Simplicity, which will be released tomorrow, July 26th.
In comparing the new work to the previous one, Joshua writes “the book [Simplify] concentrates almost exclusively on the externals of life. While it helps people find freedom from clutter, it does not take the next step of helping people find freedom and simplicity in their heart and soul. And simplicity is always a matter of the heart….[Inside-Out Simplicity]takes the next step. It will comment occasionally on the external possessions that weigh down our life when needed, but the focus of the book gets to the deepest heart issues that impact our relationships and life. For that reason, it should be read slowly and reflectively. If you are searching for an inward simplicity, this book is definitely for you.”
This is the book he describes as the one he was afraid to write, for fear of coming off as somehow superior to others or somehow perfect in his way of being in the world, which he emphatically assures us he is not. But he is passionate about his mission to show the reader and seeker a viable path to stepping back from the soul-deadening consumerist culture and applying integrity and honesty to all phases of one’s personal life, from the workplace to the bedroom.
One of my favorite passages: “Living a simple life certainly requires intentionality. In a world that is hectic, busy, and hurried, simplicity is not. In a culture that encourages selfishness and excess, minimalism does not. And in a society that is rushing to gain more, satisfaction with less is counter-cultural.”
There are several personal examples and I think those are what Joshua does best, telling the personal story, especially when it comes to life with his children. He then draws upon that experience to tell us what he and his family learned from the experience; for example, “One of the best, unforeseen consequences of simplifying our lives is that it has allowed us to begin living our lives in the present. Eliminating nonessential possessions freed us from many of the emotions associated with past lives that were keeping us stuck there. And clearing our home has allowed us the freedom to shape our lives today around our most important values.”
As he goes deeper into value and belief systems he realizes “the only release from the consumerist society is to exit. To decide that enough is enough and that the relentless pursuit of possessions will never lead to a simplified life. Embrace a counter-consumer approach to life.” I am in complete agreement with this sentiment. It is only toward the end of his book do we realize, however, that Joshua is a Christian Minimalist. Philosophically, minimalism would be a subset of one’s religious beliefs (if any), and I think the story of his and his family’s path to simplicity would be better served by including it in the beginning sections, instead of suddenly appearing toward the end.
At the conclusion Joshua points out the end philosophical goal of minimalism, which is to seek significance rather than success, and cites as guiding examples Gandhi and Mother Teresa, among others: “Rarely do people look back on their lives and savor their professional achievements. Instead, they celebrate the impact they have had in the lives of others. Give yourself much to look back and celebrate. Stop chasing success. Start seeking significance.”
Inside-Out Simplicity is available starting Monday, July 26th, at Becoming Minimalist.
Check out my other blog: Minimalist Cooking