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Why the Less Your Children Have, the More Successful They Will Be in the Future

Why the Less Your Children Have, the More Successful They Will Be in the Future

I became a minimalist long before it was fashionable. IKEA hadn’t yet crossed the Atlantic and Madonna belted out tunes about the material world. I lived with an extreme hoarder. My mother kept everything- from cringe worthy art projects to illegible high school French notes, plastic disposable cups to magazines and newspapers. Minimalism became my form of rebellion. When I left home I stoically declared that anything I couldn’t fit in one bag, I couldn’t keep. I kept that stance for years.

When I began my own family, I vowed my children would receive not stuff, but the things money can’t buy, like quality time and experiences, hugs and kisses. Living a good life doesn’t necessarily mean being surrounded by opulence and luxury, but becoming a minimalist doesn’t mean you have to give up all of your possessions and live in a bare room either. Minimalism actually makes your life richer, albeit simpler.

“The secret to happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.” -Socrates

Fewer toys mean more creativity in kids

Humans have incredible imaginations. We don’t need excessive external stimuli to bolster that imagination either. I’ve seen kids declare they are bored, even though they have rooms brimming with the coolest toys, while others are happy digging in the dirt with their hands, making pretend roads for their one toy car. The fewer toys a child has, the more apt they are to exercise their ingenuity.

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Take a kid to the beach to see the extent of their creativity. With nothing but nature, a Hogwarts-worthy castle can emerge from the sand, ready to defend itself against the incoming tide. We actually do a disservice to our kids by dulling their ripe imaginations with video games that require little thought and toys that with a mere push of a button keep them amused with mindless lights and sounds. Imagination and ingenuity are two important skills that help kids to succeed in life.

Sharing helps kids practice interpersonal skills & develop empathy

Practicing minimalism means that you have to learn to share. This is a soft skill that everyone needs to learn from an early age. Siblings often have a hard time with this, but if there’s only one ball or one swimming mask, they have to learn to take turns or do without. Their empathy levels can spike along with way, and you’ll find that an older child may hand the toy to a younger one first, or your child may realize he didn’t want the toy as badly as his friend.

Sharing can help your child pick up on non-verbal clues from others, such as body language, eye contact, facial expressions & hand gestures. They can begin to notice when someone is getting antsy, upset or even bored. All from sharing toys. This skill, used by successful entrepreneurs, won’t be found in the classroom, it has to be learned.

Kids are less anxious and stressed in minimalist environments

That messy room is doing more damage to you and your kids than you think: Over stimulation causes stress and anxiety.[1] Clutter distracts and makes you lose focus. Bottom line: it’s bad for your health, mentally and physically.

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A study[2] on Kindergartners showed that they performed better on tests when they were taught in a room with only bare walls as opposed to the children who were in a room with walls decorated with posters and other visual aids. The kids in the bare room were able to focus better and be distracted less than the children in the decorated room.

Many kids and parents tend to overfill their schedules with after school activities, but the pressure can be physically and emotionally detrimental, leading to headaches, stomachaches and even depression.[3]

Becoming a minimalist will help you calm down- you can actually relax and not feel guilty when you don’t have a mess around that needs to be sorted or a practice that your child needs to attend. Give your kids a healthy boost in life and teach them to be calm and focused by decluttering your environment.

Minimalism teaches children to be conscious consumers and more aware of the reality of finances

The only way kids can learn finances is through us- the parents. If they see us splurging on a regular basis- guess what, they will eventually follow suit. If they see us stop and consider purchases first, questioning aloud if we need it or just want it, they are more apt to be weigh the pros and cons before making purchases themselves in the future.

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If you tell them they can’t have something because the dog needs some heart worm pills, but explain if you save X amount of money a week, that by their birthday, such a purchase may be possible, you are teaching them the importance of delayed gratification and budgeting all in one!

Kids tend to think money grows on trees, but by instilling a minimalist approach to finances and involving them, they can learn important life skills that they won’t learn elsewhere.

Becoming minimalist is the best way to teach kids gratitude

Minimalism is the best way to truly teach your kids to be thankful for what they have. Someone who is provided with everything on demand doesn’t know how important each thing is if they are surrounded by a multitude of stuff. Your child will be more grateful for that one toy or video game at Christmas than if they had a pile of them.

Give thanks for all that you do have, because even if it’s not a lot, it may be even more than someone else dreams of having. There are many people in the world who don’t have clean water, something we tend to take for granted. According to the charity Water.org, there are 332 million people without access to clean water in Africa alone[4]. Be grateful for what you have every everyday.

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Kids develop a practical, better perspective on life

Minimalism is not just the act of cleaning out your house, it’s a whole perspective on life. Simplify your life. Borrow books from the library instead of buying them. Spend a night out watching the stars instead of the latest movie. Eat a picnic in a park instead of dining in a restaurant. Live the good life through special moments.

The memories you make with your children are what they will always remember, and even treasure, not the stuff you bought. What you do now will affect how they are in their future. Raise them to embrace simplicity and they will have a better perspective on life.

Adopting a minimalist lifestyle will help your children grow to appreciate the good life – a life defined by strong family bonds, gratitude, and love and experiences, a life where less is definitely more.

Reference

More by this author

Sally White

writer, artist & blogger

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Last Updated on October 16, 2019

Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

Do you like making mistakes?

I certainly don’t.

Making mistakes is inevitable. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could be at ease with them?

Perhaps there is a way to think of them differently and see their benefits.

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Why Mistakes Feel Dangerous

Mistakes often feel dangerous. Throughout human history, our errors have often been treated as dangerous for a variety of reasons:

  • Our vulnerability. We have limited and fragile support systems. When those systems fail, people often lose their lives.
  • Real dangers. Nature can be dangerous, and making mistakes can put us at the mercy of nature and its animal residents seeking a meal.
  • Ignorance. Many cultures scapegoats someone whenever there is a failure of some kind. Scapegoating can be serious and deadly.
  • Order. Many societies punish those who do not conform to the prevailing orthodoxy and treat difference and non-conformity as a mistake. Even our brains flash an error message whenever we go against prevailing social norms.

We have a history of handling mistakes and failure in an unpleasant way. Since each of us carries our human history with us, it can be a challenge to overcome the fear of making mistakes.

If we can embrace the reality of mistakes, we can free ourselves to be more creative in our lives and dig up some interesting insights.

Why We Can’t Avoid Making Mistakes

Many people operate under the notion that making mistakes is an aberration, a mistake if you will. You can call it perfectionism but it is a more substantial problem. It is really a demand for order and continuity.

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When we think we can eliminate mistakes, we are often working from a perspective that sees the world as a fixed place. The world, however, is not so obliging. Like it or not, the world, and everything in it, is constantly changing.

Change is more constant and pervasive than we can see with our own eyes which is why we often miss it. Our bodies are constantly changing. The natural conditions of the earth change constantly as well. Everything, including economic and cultural systems have life cycles. Everything is in a constant state of flux.

We cannot see all of the changes going on around us since rates of change vary. Unfortunately, when we try to create a feeling of certainty and solidity in our lives or operate from the illusion of stability and order, we are fighting reality and our natural evolution which is built on adapting to change.

It is better to continually bend into this reality rather than fight every change we experience. Fighting it can cause us to make more mistakes. Finding the benefits in change can be useful and help us minimize unnecessary mistakes.

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Lessons Learned from Making Mistakes

Life has so many uncertainties and variables that mistakes are inevitable. Fortunately, there are many things you can learn from making mistakes.

Here is a list of ways to harness the mistakes you make for your benefit.

  1. Point us to something we did not know.
  2. Reveal a nuance we missed.
  3. Deepen our knowledge.
  4. Tell us something about our skill levels.
  5. Help us see what matters and what does not.
  6. Inform us more about our values.
  7. Teach us more about others.
  8. Let us recognize changing circumstances.
  9. Show us when someone else has changed.
  10. Keep us connected to what works and what doesn’t work.
  11. Remind us of our humanity.
  12. Spur us to want to better work which helps us all.
  13. Promote compassion for ourselves and others.
  14. Teach us to value forgiveness.
  15. Help us to pace ourselves better.
  16. Invite us to better choices.
  17. Can teach us how to experiment.
  18. Can reveal a new insight.
  19. Can suggest new options we had not considered.
  20. Can serve as a warning.
  21. Show us hidden fault lines in our lives which can lead us to more productive arrangements.
  22. Point out structural problems in our lives.
  23. Prompt us to learn more about ourselves.
  24. Remind us how we are like others.
  25. Make us more humble.
  26. Help us rectify injustices in our lives.
  27. Show us where to create more balance in our lives.
  28. Tell us when the time to move on has occurred.
  29. Reveal where our passion is and where it is not.
  30. Expose our true feelings.
  31. Bring out problems in a relationship.
  32. Can be a red flag for our misjudgments.
  33. Point us in a more creative direction.
  34. Show us when we are not listening.
  35. Wake us up to our authentic selves.
  36. Can create distance with someone else.
  37. Slow us down when we need to.
  38. Can hasten change.
  39. Reveal our blind spots.
  40. Are the invisible made visible.

Reframe Reality to Handle Mistakes More Easily

The secret to handling mistakes is to:

  • Expect them as part of the process of growth and development.
  • Have an experimental mindset.
  • Think in evolutional rather than fixed terms.

When we accept change as the natural structure of the world, our vulnerability and humanness lets us work with the ebb and flow of life.

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When we recognize the inevitability of mistakes as part of the ongoing experiment which life is, then we can relax more. In doing so we may make fewer of them.

It also helps to keep in mind that trial and error is an organic natural way of living. It is how we have evolved over time. It is better to be with our natural evolution than to fight it and make life harder.

When we adopt an evolutional mindset and see ourselves as part of the ongoing human experiment, we can appreciate that all that has been built up over time which includes the many mistakes our ancestors have made over thousands of years. Each one of us today is a part of that human tradition of learning and experimenting,

Mistakes are part of the trial and error, experimental nature of life. The more you adopt the experimental, evolutional frame, the easier it becomes to handle mistakes.

Handling mistakes well can help you relax and enjoy all aspects of life more.

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Featured photo credit: Sarah Kilian via unsplash.com

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