Faith & Life


Reap the Spiritual Benefits of Minimalism, Refocusing, and Reorganizing in 2020

By Cathi Douglas     1/16/2020

We’ve all heard Jesus’s teachings on money and possessions – and at first glance sacrificing wealth and power seem painful.  

Still, as we begin a new year and have seemingly endless opportunities to live our lives differently, it’s attractive to consider owning fewer possessions, simplifying our schedules, and prioritizing people and experiences in 2020. 

Perhaps Jesus isn’t calling us to make sacrifices so much as to reap the spiritual benefits of a streamlined life. 

Writing in Forbes in 2012, author Neil Kane, president of Illinois Partners, discusses his family’s surprisingly spiritual journey toward purging their lives of extraneous possessions–owning less ‘stuff’ and lightening their physical and emotional load. 

In the new year, we can start fresh, tossing the emotional and physical baggage we’ve accumulated to strip our lives down to what’s most important. 

If this minimalism appeals to you, what would you decide to add to the blank slate of 2020? 

  • Do you want to fill your new year with busy-ness, or schedule only the most important work, relationships, commitments and opportunities?
  • Do you want to read Scripture on a regular basis, join a Bible study group, or read Catholic literature?
  • Do you want to be more mindful? More committed to your marriage or your children?
  • Do you want to be more active, eat more healthily, get outdoors more?
  • Do you want to nurture your prayer life, or find solitary time to listen to God’s voice?
  • Do you want to have greater focus for your work? Be more organized? Get your finances in order?


As attractive as all these ideas are, it’s important not to commit to an overwhelming to-do list in January. Pick a couple of these new priorities. Learn to savor the extra time and energy that results from under-committing your time. 

Perhaps one of Pope Francis’s suggested New Year’s resolutions should guide our thoughts as we consider the new slate facing us. He says, “Be careful of envy, lust, hatred and negative feelings that devour our interior peace and transform us into destroyed and destructive people.” 

Catholic Online offers these ideas for refocusing ourselves based on St. Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians:  

  • Do not return evil for evil.
  • Seek what is good for each other.
  • Rejoice always.
  • Pray without ceasing.
  • In all circumstances give thanks.


As the publication notes, these are resolutions that matter, and each and every day is the right time to start doing them. 

Yet in addition to refocusing our spiritual lives, we can also pay attention to some ‘spiritual decluttering,’ to unblock and unstick ourselves. This is helpful particularly when we can’t see the ideas and vision clear to the path we want. 

“Decluttering—cleaning up our act physically, mentally, and emotionally—frees us from those stuck places and helps us get into action,” notes in its June 12, 2012 blog post on decluttering as spiritual practice.  

Spiritual clutter can include the incomplete or stalled dreams swirling in your head; unhealthy, unfulfilling relationships; addictive behaviors; and mental chaos. Indeed, clutter, in any form, negatively affects our energy, attitudes, and effectiveness. 

In the words of G. K. Chesterton, “The object of a new year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul.”