Edit Ruthlessly

A year ago, I wrote the words “Edit Ruthlessly” on the chalkboard wall in our house. These two words have become an informal family motto, challenging us to live more simply.

The idea came after watching Grant Hill’s 5-minute TED talk: Less stuff, more happiness. Hill makes a compelling case for the freedom afforded by having less (admittedly, a first-world problem). His first point of advice? Edit ruthlessly:

We’ve got to cut the extraneous out of our lives and stem the inflow.

This process is slow and unending. Like any other discipline, simplicity gradually takes root as new habits are formed. Over time, store shelves and “buy now” buttons become less and less alluring. Purchases are made with more and more discernment.

Two other sources of inspiration have been helpful. The first, The Minimalist Mom, challenges the cultural norms of stuff in the context of family and children. The other, Moving Upstairs, is an essay by Jack Cheng that outlines a helpful framework for evaluating what stuff is truly useful.

Living with words has power. Passing the chalkboard wall everyday, both consciously and unconsciously, gave resolution to our goals. They are words that have yet to be erased.