The less is more approach to reducing stress

“Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”  Luke 12:15

“Less is more” is great advice when it comes to reducing stress.  The “less is more” approach to life was what Jesus was advocating when he said that our life does not consist in the abundance of our possessions.

This phrase “less is more” was coined by architect Mies van der Rohe to describe his minimalist approach to architecture.  He was one of the first modern architects to reduce building design to the simple elements of structural steel and glass.  The skyscrapers of today are results of his genius and innovation back in the 1950s.  

There is something to be said in praise of the great benefit both naturally and spiritually for simplifying life.  Possessions do have a way of possessing us and truth be told having more things does not always translate into more satisfaction. The plethora of books now on the market today advocating the simple life testify to the hunger there is to experience the freedom of a less is more lifestyle.  There is also a simplicity movement today made up of people who are fed up with the stress caused by twenty-first century time and financial pressure and are voluntarily down sizing.

My office move last week once again confirmed for me the joy to be found in the less is more approach to life.  I realized afresh what a pack rat I am and how cluttered my life has become.  Although it was taxing at times sorting through the accumulation of over 30 years of pastoral resources, it felt so good to get rid of stuff I really do not need. 

Less clutter always brings greater clarity. That is why all of us in our heart of hearts long for it.  Wendell Berry put it this way.  “Don’t own so much clutter that you will be relieved to see your house catch fire.” 

In Ricardo Semler’s book Maverick he tells how the company Semco purposed to purchase $50,000 in new filing cabinets in response to a compilation of a number of department requests.  A decision was made to first stop the company for half a day and have everyone purge their filing cabinets of nonessential information.  Surprisingly, when all was said and done, instead of needing more file cabinets they ended up auctioning off dozens of unneeded cabinets.

I’ve been inspired by my office move to pare things down even more.  Not just at church but even more importantly at home.  That will be a summer project I’m sure.  I want to de-tress my life by a less is more approach to my possessions.

What would God have you do to de-stress your life?  Have your possessions gotten the best of you?  We all need to take seriously Jesus’ warning about the insatiable desire to always be accumulating more.  The answer is in applying our energies and desire in to learning to live with less.  Adopting a less is more lifestyle holds the promise to true peace and contentment.

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