Authors: Joshua Fields Millburn,Ryan Nicodemus
Tags: #Minimalism, #Non-Fiction, #Psychology, #Reference, #Self-Help
Published by Asymmetrical Press.
Copyright © 2011 by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus. All rights reserved.
All revenues garnered from the sale of this book will most likely be spent on coffee, tea, and various other decreasingly warm liquids.
Disclaimer: persons considering changing their diet or exercise regimens should consult a physician before implementing any diet or exercise program.
Feel free to take pieces of this book and replicate them online or in print, but please link back to theminimalists.com. If you want to use more than a few paragraphs, please email [email protected]
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life /Millburn, Nicodemus. — 5th ed.
Print ISBN: 978-0615648224 eISBN: 978-1936539673 WC: 29,353
1. Minimalism. 2. Happiness. 3. The Minimalists. 4. Title. 5. Authors.
Cover photo by Adam Dressler
Cover design by Dave LaTulippe
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @JFM & @ryannicodemus
For Chloe and Eric
The people who are rebelling meaningfully
don't buy a lot of stuff.
—David Foster Wallace
minimalism: live a meaningful life
Are you truly happy?
A Brief Introduction
Conformity is the drug with which many people self-medicate. Not happy? Buy this. Buy that. Buy something. Keep up with the Joneses, the Trumps, the Kardashians. After all, you can be just like them, right?
Clearly this is blatantly wrong, we all know this, and yet we continue to try. Day in, day out, we try. We try to keep up, try to measure up, try to live up to societal expectations, placing immense pressure on ourselves to be something—or someone—we are not.
Consequently, people are more stressed than ever. We have more pressure put on us than any other time in history. You see it on your TV, the toothpick models and rugged “sexiest men alive” occupying the screen.
is what you’re
to look like. You hear it on your radio, the solipsistic over-indulgence of Hummer-driving rap stars and champagne-guzzling pop stars promulgating irresponsible living.
is how you’re
to consume. You notice it at work, the co-worker gossip about him and her and, god forbid,
is how you’re
to behave. To have the tallest building in town, you must tear down everyone else’s.
Suffice it to say, the pressure is all around us. Or is it?
The truth is that nearly all the pressure we feel is completely internal. Sure, this pressure is influenced by external factors, but the that doesn’t mean we have to take the bait. We needn’t succumb to these influences. Because even if you could be a Kardashian or a Trump or a Jones, it wouldn’t make you happy. Happiness comes from within, from inside yourself, from living a meaningful life. And that is what this book aims to help you discover.
About The Minimalists
This book is ultimately about
can live a meaningful life. But let’s talk about us for a moment.
We are Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus—
. We’re a pair of thirty-year-old guys who write essays about living a meaningful life with less stuff at TheMinimalists.com, a website with over 100,000 monthly readers. We’ve been featured in the
Wall Street Journal
, NPR, CBC, NBC, FOX, and various other media outlets. Our essays have been featured on dozens of popular websites throughout the Internet, including
Magazine’s #1 blog in the world. Both of us have extensive experience leading large groups of people in corporate America, coaching and developing hundreds of employees to grow as individuals and live more meaningful lives.
Once upon a time, we were two happy young professionals living in Dayton, Ohio. But we weren’t
happy. We were best friends in our late twenties, and we both had great six-figure jobs, nice cars, big houses, plenty of toys, and an abundance of stuff. And yet with all this stuff, we knew we were not satisfied with our lives. We knew we were not happy or fulfilled. We discovered that working 70–80 hours a week and buying more stuff didn’t fill the void. So we took back control of our lives using the principles of minimalism to focus on what’s important. The first chapter in this book,
How We Got Here
, goes into great detail about our journey into minimalism.
About this Book
This book has been a long time in the making. Its initial iteration was conceived in November 2010 and completed in March 2011, resulting in a 300-page
guide for minimalism called
Minimalism In 21 Days
A 300-page book about how to become a minimalist? This didn’t feel right to us. How could a book about minimalism—a book about how to reduce the stuff in your life so you can focus on what’s important—be 300 pages? We could almost taste the irony. Don’t get us wrong, it was a
book, far better than most things you can find on the internet. But because we didn’t feel like it was a
book, and because it lacked a certain necessary brevity, we did what any responsible authors would have done: we scrapped the entire project and started over with a blank page. This was difficult to do, but it felt like the only genuine way to go about creating something more meaningful.
The resulting content is the book you are about to read. An attenuated version of the subject matter from
Minimalism In 21 Days
is available for free on our website (all 21 days of our journey are outlined there in detail). Likely the most interesting part of our initial journey into minimalism is the
in which we pretended Ryan was moving, packed up all his belongs—everything down to his toothbrush, underwear, and furniture—and he unpacked only the things he needed for the next three weeks. Afterwards, Ryan found that 80% of his material possessions were still boxed and unused, all of which possessions he then sold, donated, or trashed at the end of this experiment. Each day from that 21-day journey—including Ryan’s
—can be found on our website.
We believe that our website gives you the ultimate
guide for free, as well as frequent updates by way of our essays on that site, which essays explore minimalism at a deep level and demonstrate practical ways to apply it to your life.
Similarly, we wrote this book to be used in a practical way; we certainly don’t want to waste your time. The tools we provide herein are designed to be used practically; they are designed to help you discover a more meaningful life. Furthermore, while this entire book can be consumed within a day or two, it is organized into seven succinct chunks, which are better digested in a week, one chapter at a time.
This book is different from the content on our website. While our website documents our journey into minimalism and our continued growth through experimentation, this book discusses minimalism in a different way: it discusses in great depth the five dimensions of living a meaningful life. It also gives you a lot more insight into our personal lives, into the painful events that led us to our journey into minimalism, and into our world outside the web.
The book itself is written and organized in a particular way. It is written to make you think about your life and how you live it, to make you do some work and introspection so you can step away from your old life and journey into a new life filled with meaning. It is set up to help you realize that you can change, you can re-select who you’re going to be, you can become the best person you’re capable of becoming—the real you, the passionate, loving, compassionate, happy you. So if you truly want to maximize what you learn from this book, we ask you to not only read its content, but also do three things as you read:
For all intents and purposes, this is a book of advice. The thoughts, experiments, strategies, and recommendations herein are our advice to you. Whatever stage of life you’re in right now, this book can help improve the most important things in your life: your health, your relationships, the pursuit of your passions, your growth as an individual, and your contribution to other people. These five dimensions are the fundaments of living meaningfully. We go into great detail to explain why these five areas are so important and how you can improve each area in your life.
Finally, it is important to note that while we are sharing our sixty combined years of living through these pages, we do not have all the answers. The strategies, experiments, and stories we share in this book are things we’ve learned from innumerable sources, from Leo Babauta to Tony Robbins and everyone in-between. The common thread, however, is that these are the strategies that worked incredibly well for us and thousands of other people. Although we are all different, we are all looking for the same thing: how to live with more meaning in our lives.
CHAPTER 1: OUR ARRIVAL
Who Are You?
The material possessions you accumulate are not going to make you happy. We all know this, and yet many people search for life’s meaning through accumulating more possessions. Real happiness, however, comes from who you are—from who you’ve become. Real happiness comes from within. Likewise, discontentment is also a result of who you’ve become. Consequently, if you are living intentionally and meaningfully, you will feel happy, fulfilled, and content a vast majority of the time.
If you want to base your life on that of the average person’s life, then this book is not for you—because the average person is not happy. And just because most people are unhappy doesn’t mean you have to be. You don’t have to settle for a mediocre life just because the people around you have settled.
In 2009, life looked great for both of us. We both worked for the same telecommunications corporation (Joshua since 1999, Ryan since 2004); we both enjoyed all the perks of a lifestyle most people envied; we both lived our version of the American Dream. But for some reason neither one of us could explain at the time, we were not happy, we didn’t feel fulfilled, and we certainly didn’t feel content.