I hate guilt trips. They don’t change me, they just make me feel worse.
I just finished reading the book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, and it was anything BUT a guilt trip.
Author Jen Hatmaker sets aside seven months, and attacks seven different areas of excess in her life. Beginning with the vast topic of food, she limits herself to eating just seven foods for the month. This does several things, not the least of them being her discovery of the sheer number of foods she’s used to purchasing, and her identifying with those less fortunate, who do not have the luxury of variety.
The following month, she limits herself to wearing only seven clothing items from her closet. The month after that, she decides to give seven things away, every day. The point in this chapter that was most thought-provoking to me was how she does not just cart her stuff over to Goodwill and drop it off – she seeks out people who actually need her stuff. Joining together with friends, they hear of someone who is living in a bare apartment with no furniture, nothing on the walls, and hardly anything in the fridge. Jen and her friends redeem their excess by sharing it with someone they actually can make a connection with, and build a friendship with. I love that challenge. The rest of the chapters are full of stories on how she gives up seven types of media, limits her spending to seven places, and focuses on seven areas of her life in which she can reduce waste.
Are there other ways of sharing your plenty with others? Absolutely. Are there wiser spending habits that will not let us get into the predicament of excess in the first place? Definitely. But the real value in this book was not just another call to middle class Americans to purge their closets – I fear that message of shame gets sent our way a lot. Rather, Jen’s message is inspiration to join an adventure of what can happen to our worldview when we take stock of what we truly value and share our bounty with others. For a read that is definitely not a guilt trip (and is quite hilarious, too!), check out 7.
Tell me about your experiences with scaling back your lifestyle or sharing with others.