“I have enough stuff!” we often say, but then we go shopping for more stuff.
If there is something that can suffocate you and make you feel overwhelmed, that’s owning too much stuff. Discover in this article, the best 19 books on minimalism and simple living so that you can feel free again.
Did you know that the more stuff you accumulate the lonely you can get?
Before the consumerism era, we are pretty satisfied with what we had and our lives. Now we feel as if nothing is ever enough; not us, not what we own.
The biggest complaint of most homeowners is that “We don’t have enough storage space”. The tricky thing is, most things placed in storage, never get to see the light of day again.
It’s been ten years since the recession in 2008. Most people believe we are still in a recession even though the economy has improved significantly. You see? Nocebo works better than placebo…perhaps not better, but undoubtedly faster and lasts longer.
The paradox of the times we are living today is the fact that, we have so many things, so much stuff, and yet our life seems to get harder and harder.
Perhaps you, like most of us, have your kitchen filled with utensils, dishes, cutlery, and countless machines. Yet, most of them all are useless (to you) and barely used one time. They are useless because we are creatures of habit. We fell in love with one item and use it until it can’t be used anymore.
Nevertheless, we buy another one ten years in advance, to make sure we’ll not be without it.
Find inspiration by reading the following books (one or more) and declutter your life; make things easier for yourself. Remind yourself that everything you own takes (in a way or another) some of your energy and attention to take care of it.
Table of Contents
- 1. The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less – Barry Schwartz
- 2. Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living – Shauna Niequist, Brene Brown
- 3. You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap): How One Woman Radically Simplified Her Life and How You Can Too – Tammy Strobel
- 4. Meet the Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living – Elizabeth Willard Thames
- 5. The Power of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential…in Business and in Life – Leo Babauta
- 6. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less – Greg McKeown
- 7. A Simplified Life: Tactical Tools for Intentional Living – Emily Ley
- 8. The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own – Joshua Becker
- 9. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing – Marie Kondō
- 10. Goodbye, Things: On Minimalist Living – FUMIO SASAKI
- 11. Soulful Simplicity: How Living with Less Can Lead to So Much More – Courtney Carver
- 12. Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life – Joshua Fields Millburn, Ryan Nicodemus
- 13. The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Guide to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify – Francine Jay
- 14. Walden – Henry David Thoreau
- 15. It’s All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff – Peter Walsh
- 16. Decluttering at the Speed of Life: Winning Your Never-Ending Battle with Stuff – Dana K. White
- 17. Do Less: A Minimalist Guide to a Simplified, Organized, and Happy Life – Rachel Jonat
- 18. Everything That Remains: A Memoir by The Minimalists – Joshua Fields Millburn, Ryan Nicodemus
- 19. Clutterfree with Kids: Change your thinking. Discover new habits. Free your home – Joshua S Becker
Have you ever heard about the buyer’s remorse? If by any chance, you haven’t heard about it, undoubtedly you felt it numerous times; and numerous times you’ll feel it (most probably) again.
No matter what you need to buy you have so many choices, that is almost impossible never to come to regret some things you purchase. If you buy a TV, for example, by the time you get home with it, a new model appears on the market. That can make you regret your choice and blaming yourself for not waiting a bit longer.
Discover in this book what is the paradox of choice and how to deal with it. Become more self-disciplined about the things you buy so you can enjoy them, or feel relaxed about not buying anything at all.
2. Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living – Shauna Niequist, Brene Brown
Perfection is irrelevant in the great scheme of things and life. Yet, some of us are in pursuit of it for most of their lives…they never get there…there is no such thing.
Even if you could achieve perfection, that wouldn’t make your life better or happier. Let alone the fact that those who seek perfection, spread around them a lot of unhappiness.
Unfortunately, many of us believe they must be perfect to be loved. However, love and meaningful connections don’t have a switch on and off button. You’re either in a loving and healthy relationship, either you’re alone in it. (That’s not a relationship, that’s self-torture).
Have you noticed that people (searching perfection) almost always feel the need to change everything around them? To change you, to acquire more stuff, to judge others, but never change their own mind?
You already have fantastic things right under your nose. Are you paying attention? Are you allowing your thoughts to be mostly positive and search to see what you like, instead of searching for faults?
You feel you have enough when you feel good enough.
3. You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap): How One Woman Radically Simplified Her Life and How You Can Too – Tammy Strobel
Can having money make you happy? Someone said that “those who believe money don’t bring happiness don’t know what to do with it.”
We want to be idealistic; but, let’s face it, to afford to be idealistic you need the minimum financial security and independence.
On the Maslow’s pyramid of needs, the basic needs require that financial security. You need some money to have a roof over your head and provide food, heating, water for your family. Is it not?
One of the greatest happiness that money can bring you is the satisfaction of choosing not to buy anything. When you have financial stability, fantastic offers and discounts don’t lure you in. And that’s one way of buying happiness, the freedom not to buy anything.
4. Meet the Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living – Elizabeth Willard Thames
Most of us accept to stay in unhappy situations because it seems comfortable; it’s the comfort of what we know how to deal with; it’s comfortable for our bodies, but not comfortable for our minds.
When we think of a frugal person, we tend to imagine seniors, as if discovering how to live a simple life it’s bound by your age.
Read this book and feel inspired, become more courageous, leave the stuff behind, and live the life of your dreams.
5. The Power of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential…in Business and in Life – Leo Babauta
The modern society pushes us, more and more, to become knowledge hoarders. Then, by our own accord, we become also goals hoarders.
Many of us take pride in saying “I’m a multitasking master”. However, dividing your attention among ten tasks at once doesn’t make you an achiever, but increases your stress level. It gives you the illusion that you’re doing many things in less time when, in fact, it takes much more time for each task, goal, dream.
Read this book and make it easier for yourself to:
- Declutter your life, body, and mind
- Rearrange your priorities list
- Cut down the number of goals you set for yourself so that you have on your list fewer things to do at any point in time
The more you split your attention, the lower are the chances you’ll get where you want to be.
Reach for the sky, one dream at the time. Learn to appreciate and take full advantage of what you already have before acquiring something new.
For the past 50 years or so, we’ve been brainwashed to believe that a good life comes from having everything we dream of; only to discover (now) that we are unhappier than ever before. We have more; more stuff, more dreams, and sadly, more dissatisfaction as well.
How do you get out of this mental fog? Because (you see?) many of us never knew any other society but one driven by covering oneself with ‘having’.
Before this 50 years of mental fog, people used more often the verb doing than having.
It’s not a matter of turning back because, if you’re under 65, most probably, don’t know what is that “back”. Plus, human nature, drives us to move forward, and build a brighter future. Not only for us but for future generations.
We must wake up before it’s too late. And it’s starting being late by the minute. How you live your life today is part of your legacy for the tomorrow’s world.
There are more and more studies about the devastation of “the having mentality”. We, as adults, don’t like how the millennials are behaving – feeling entitled, unreliable, and demanding…it’s our fault! Let’s change things.
Learn how to rediscover the joy of simple living.
Most people suffering from a life-threatening illness say “I never felt more alive”. Let’s not wait until disaster strikes to feel alive; start feeling alive now when you can enjoy it; when you can use all your talents, skills, potential, and discover the joy of intentional living.
The greatest gift you ever received, is your life. Make your life count – start the trend of living with purpose, influence others (by your example) to cherish, honor and love this precious gift- life!
Learn how to simplify your life so that you can feel happier and more content.
Simplifying your life, minimalism and simple living doesn’t mean to settle for crumbs. Don’t allow others to lie to you and believe that your value and worth is tied up by the things you own.
Frugal people are often judged as if you’re not allowed (to ever) feel settled in life; as if you must, always be, in search of something new and grandiose.
The more food you have in your fridge, the bigger you get; the more stuff surrounds you, the more alone and disconnected you feel; the higher you raise the bar for yourself, the higher are the odds of getting stuck into impossible situations.
Hunters and gatherers? Yes, it was a time when our survival depended on it. Yes, it still does, but, today, we must learn to hunt and gather what really matters for the times we are living.
9. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing – Marie Kondō
Just because your closet is well organized and ordered, doesn’t mean it’s easy to keep it that way all the time.
Read this book and understand better what order actually means. Life moves so fast and keeping too much stuff, endangers you to be left behind. Stuff is heavy. It drags you down, impairing every step you make.
When was the last time you truly, truly felt free? Wasn’t it before being tied up by taking care of things you own?
Some people say “…back then, I was younger; so, of course, I felt free”. However, if you think about it, you feel free (no matter your age) when you’re not petrified of the thought of losing.
There is only one single loss that you cannot avoid to be scared of. Losing someone you love will always be a scary thought and painful.
You see? Until this day others have hypnotized you into believing many things that are not true. Things like: you matter when you have, you count if you are trendy, you are successful when you exceed all odds and expectations.
Today is the best day to start self-hypnosis and change your mind and beliefs about your priorities in life.
Read this book and discover how easy it can be to change your life for the better by changing one small thing at a time.
If you want to know why you, stubbornly keep things you don’t need, this book can give you the answer. Know yourself better and give yourself the best chance to overcome the need of using the stuff your own as a safety blanket.
We get annoyed with children throwing tantrums about losing their toys, but we are not too far away from that. The difference is that our tantrums are internal and torment (the most) our inner self.
Many things can cause us getting angry. Yet, there is something that trumps almost everything else, even for those of us who are, generally speaking, calm. Take our toys, or just move them around, and you’ll discover the ugly face of anger.
Discover in this book, how you can sever the umbilical cord that keeps you stuck, tied up with the things you own; make your life happier and more enjoyable.
Learn from this book how you can put into practice simple living and minimalism, yet, keeping the standard of living you enjoy.
We are getting closer and closer to transforming our homes into storage spaces.
Create more memories with your loved ones, instead of creating space to fill up with more stuff.
Discover in this book, how to lead a meaningful life sorting out the things you have and improve:
- Your health,
- Find your passion,
- Purpose and growth,
- Your contribution to a better society.
Find out how to make the distinction between excess material things and must-haves. Declutter your home and your mind so that you have the energy to focus on things that really matter.
How often it happens to you to wake up with the thought “Today, I must reorganize my storage; I don’t have enough space to move around”?
Most probably, the messier spot in your house is the place you spend the more time. Is it not? If you work from home, for example, isn’t it your desk, less organized then the rest of your house? “There is no point to clean it up; give me half an hour, and it will be chaos again.”
When stuff grows and grows around you, it can make you feel like there is never enough time to feel alive.
“Cleanliness is next to godliness.” That was the main rule and requirement of the first social housing in England. If anyone broke that rule founded themselves back on the street.
Nowadays, there isn’t a higher authority to check how we live. However, accumulating too much stuff, it’s making your living space smaller and smaller. Reclaim your house, reclaim your space, reclaim your peace of mind. People are not procrastinating because they are lazy, they procrastinate (most times) because feel overwhelmed.
The most fantastic ability that a human has is the ability to adapt. However, are you ever using it by choice? Or only when circumstances force you?
We can learn how to live with or without almost anything. If you look around your house, you might see many things you could live without. Yet, when you start sorting your stuff, each and every item seems so valuable! “I can’t throw [that] away; I need it; I must keep it.”
Make things easier for you; use your critical thinking and put things in perspective. Feeling “comfortably numb” doesn’t mean you’re feeling happy; it means you don’t feel too much; you’re not alive, you only exist.
“Come back to life”, give yourself space to breathe and enjoy life.
Who’s working for who? Is it your stuff working for you? Or you for your stuff?
There is an old Jewish story that can help you see your house in a different light. You have enough space if you know how to use it wisely.
Uri goes to the rabbi for help.
“We are a big family, and our house is small and cold. We don’t have money for a bigger house. What shall I do? The winter is coming, and the last one was unbearable.”
Do you have small animals? Sheep or goats, a dog?”
“Yes, we do.”
“Move them into the house, and let’s talk again in spring.”
Uri is puzzled by the advice, but goes home and moves the animals in the house.
In spring, Uri talks again with the rabbi.
“This winter was so much better than the last one. Now, what?”
“Now, move back the animals in the stable, and we’ll talk again.”
Few months pass, and Uri doesn’t come back to the rabbi. One day they meet on the street.
Uri, you haven’t come back to talk.”
“It was no need. Our house feels so much bigger now.”
I live by the wisdom of this story. Every time I feel I want more space, for a week or so, I place empty boxes around the house… Oh, my house is huge!
Is it your house a home or a storage space?
Is it easy to admit you might have too much stuff? Not really, because then you might feel ungrateful. Plus, with all the apocalyptic news you hear almost every day, it can feel that your stuff can keep you safe… just in case…
Listen, not only hoarders accumulate vast amounts of things, we all do, but we are doing it differently, more organized.
We get emotionally attached to almost everything we buy. Not to mention, the gifts you receive. “How could I throw away the thousands of drawings my niece gave me when she was two?!”
I had a big box of drawings and postcards from my niece. She’s an adult now, and one time when she came to visit asked me “What’s in that box?” So, I showed her. She started laughing. “Why do you keep all those things?” “I can’t throw them away.” “Can I sort them for you?”
She threw into the bin almost everything… it was painful, but I survived.
Keep your memories in your heart, not in boxes. Most things, once placed in storage, never see the light of day again.
Do you see the point of buying a house with a curb appeal? And pay an insane amount of money to get it? Doesn’t it count more how it looks the house across the street? That’s something you must see every day a few times. If you don’t live in your garden (or, on your porch), how many times a day do you see your house?
Our desire to have a beautiful exterior home, admired by everyone who’s passing by, can show us one of the reasons why we struggle decluttering our homes. We want to feel we have everything, and everyone else to know it.
I was six years old when my father took me to spend the summer at an aunt in the mountains. I was so excited…until I saw the house. It was empty (three beds, table and chairs, and almost nothing else). “I beg of you, don’t leave me here. Can’t you see how poor is this woman?” I’ve cried to my father. He left me there with tears in his eyes.
Let me tell you, that was the best summer of my life. My aunt didn’t have much stuff, but the world was mine.
She didn’t know things about minimalism, but she knew how simple living could make you happy.
One day I asked her “Why is your house empty?” “This is how I celebrate being alive. I had two other houses, and both burned to the ground. After the second fire, I realized I don’t need the stuff to feel happy; I have the mountain, the forest, my animals, my family; I have the sky. What more do I need?”
Filling all the space around you with stuff can cloud your sky.
We think we know what we want. But if we do, then how come we never feel satisfied?
Most companies want to hire employees that share the same values as they do. Until some years ago, they ask the candidates what their values are; but then, discovered that what people say is not how they feel.
We have many goals in life that poison our mind. “I’ll be happy when […].” Why not be happy today? Your happiness is not tied up by the things you own or goals you haven’t achieved yet.
You see? Your unconscious mind will never allow you to be (entirely) satisfied because then, you will not have a reason to get out of the bed in the morning. So, it’s pushing you to want more and more.
However, when you improve your mental toughness and know how to collaborate with your mind, you feel satisfied with your life even though you want more.
Feeling satisfied and desiring something more, don’t exclude each other.
Your life can move smoothly from one stage to the next. “I’m satisfied; I have everything. I want more not because I can’t live without [that something], but because I have the skills, talents and potential to do more.”
19. Clutterfree with Kids: Change your thinking. Discover new habits. Free your home – Joshua S Becker
A few years ago I was at my nephew’s birthday party. As most people do, the gift I made to him was a toy. When I saw that toy lending on the pile of other countless unused toys, it got stuck in my throat. I’ve realized that my gift has no chance to be appreciated because it’s useless.
When we were children, most of our toys were household objects that stimulated our creativity and imagination. That is not to say children don’t need toys, but they don’t need so many.
We forgot the purpose of a toy (to stimulate the mind to think and the body to stay active). They became simple entertainment object with little educational value.
Is it your home like a maze, feels like a toy obstacle course you must navigate? Read this book, and make some space for you to breathe and an encouraging learning environment for your children.
11 more great books on minimalism:
- The Illustrated Guide to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
- Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste by Bea Johnson
- The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store by Cait Flanders
- The Minimalists: Essential Essays by The Minimalists
- Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport
- Simple Matters: Living with Less and Ending Up with More by Erin Boyle
- The Longing for Less: Living with Minimalism by Kyle Chayka
- Simplify: 7 Guiding Principles to Help Anyone Declutter Their Home and Life by Joshua Becker
- The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter by Margareta Magnusson
- Cozy Minimalist Home: More Style, Less Stuff by Myquillyn Smith
- The Minimalist Way: Minimalism Strategies to Declutter Your Life and Make Room for Joy by Erica Layne