Watching an episode of the British show “Embarassing Bodies,” one case in particular stuck with me—a little girl, Charlotte, struggled with out of control warts on her feet to the point it was difficult to walk. The doctor suggested that they check the girls immune system, as her body is clearly not fighting the common virus that causes warts like most normal bodies do.
They find that the girl’s immune system is indeed deficient and she will need a bone marrow transplant. Hospital staff are surprised that, other than her unsightly feet she is well. Her mother later says that her mindset changed when she found out about Charlotte’s immune deficiency. She went from being upset about her daughter’s warts, sad her daughter was suffering in such a way and angry nothing was working to being glad the warts allowed them to identify an underlying larger problem that could have resulted in much worse consequences left undiscovered.
Sometimes, we concentrate so much on the warts in our lives that we don’t see the suffering they have prevented by uncovering the deeper problems. Everyone has experienced some sort of hardship—I have lost jobs, I didn’t pass the bar exam the first time, etc.—but every time I have faced something bad, there is almost always some sort of silver lining. Losing previous jobs has led me to to the career I have now. Failing the bar exam taught me about failure and disappointment and the value of being detail-oriented and double-checking your work. (As I walked away, I realized on the contract essay, I wrote damages on the outline I’d created, but somehow failed to discuss it at all in the actual essay. I failed that first exam by 1/2 a point.)
When it comes to minimalism, we can constantly think about what we lack or we can reframe it to be grateful for all we do have. No matter the abundance, there is always something we lack. Being grateful for everything we already have is an essential choice to live a meaningful life with less.
Minimalism is all about living a meaningful and intentional life. There is no shortcut. Live intentionally by making sure to always seek the deeper lesson. Don’t simply treat the warts and miss the immune deficiency.