Maybe it’s a word you’ve heard too much lately and maybe it’s a word you’ve never heard before. The concept of minimalism has developed a negative reputation as it is often described as living with no possessions, without a steady job and surviving as a nomad. Very few embrace this unconventional “off the grid” lifestyle. For most, it is simply unrealistic.
Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus suggest a more attainable and realistic way to live a more meaningful life. Everything That Remains: A Memoir is the story of Millburn and Nicodemus’s stumble into minimalism. Their modern approach to the controversial lifestyle is inspiring.
Everything that Remains begins with Millburn, a young man who had achieved the American Dream, was earning more than his fair share of compensation and yet, was not happy. He did not consider himself to be successful and was constantly yearning for more stuff to fill the void of discontent and restlessness. The piles of possessions Millburn had accumulated added no additional value to his life and instead, eliminated the remaining value from it.
“I realized that I was so focused on so-called success and achievement and especially
on the accumulation of stuff and yeah, I was living the American Dream, but it wasn’t my dream. I decided to simplify,” said Millburn.
Slowly, he began to reduce the amount of clutter in his life. The jettison began with material possessions and slowly grew to include negative relationships and his career as it occurred to him that they were not adding any value to his life. The more
possessions, people and negative patterns that Millburn removed from his life, the happier he began to feel.
“I started de-cluttering, I started getting stuff out of the way and, as I did, I started feeling freer and happier and lighter.”
He is what you might call a maximal minimalist. He lives in a scarcely furnished home, has only a few very valuable relationships in his life and makes each choice with intent. He, with Nicodemus, runs The Minimalists’ platform, living and breathing minimalism every day.
Like Millburn, Nicodemus was living a life of luxury in the corporate world, but
found little worth in it. When he noticed that Millburn was more content and at peace with his life, he questioned the path his friend took to achieve that freedom.
“I [Millburn] explained to him this thing called minimalism … I said, ‘you know what, I think you might be able to benefit from it too because, man, you’ve got a lot of stuff and you’re just as miserable as I was.’ ”
Nicodemus followed suit, de-cluttering his life as Millburn had months earlier. The two friends began to lead a life on intention. Each choice they make is purposeful. Each relationship they entertain adds meaning to their lives and each item they chose to keep serves a function.
“Imagine a life with more. More time, more meaningful relationships, more growth and contribution. A life of passion unencumbered by the trappings of the chaotic world around you. Well, what you’re imagining is an intentional life. It’s not a
perfect life, it’s not even an easy life. But a simple one.”
Minimalism is achievable for everyone. There is more than one way to live a minimalist life. Millburn chooses to live without a TV, surrounded by white walls and few distractions. In contrast, Nicodemus lives with two couches, a TV and his girlfriend, who is not a minimalist.
“ … there are all these different flavours of minimalism. There are all these different minimalists who had different recipes that fit their lifestyle,” explains Millburn.
How you choose to live minimally is your choice. You do not need to sell your car, delete all of your social media and eliminate everyone from your life who does not choose to follow a minimalist path as well. That is simply unrealistic and removing the things from your life that add value will be detrimental to your overall health and well-being.
Living a minimalistic life means making intentional choices that will benefit you in the long term. It means placing importance on the people and passions in which you find value. It means encouraging growth and progress as it is a natural progression of life. Minimalism means constantly asking yourself if you’re happy, if your habits have worth and if your possessions have meaning. If not, maybe you might benefit from a moderate dose of minimalism.
For more information about The Minimalists visit theminimalists.com.