Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus two American guys in their 20s, they already had six-figure salary, luxury cars, the designer clothes, and the big suburban houses. By their description, it was more people than people in the house. They were deeply immersed in their American dreams. Corresponding to the material they possessed were close to 80-hours of workweeks, alienation from family, debt, stress, anxious, even with drug and alcohol abuse. Though they had everything they wanted, the material enjoyment seems did not bring them more happiness.
They were best friends and working in the same cooperation. When Nicodemus fell into depression with his situation, he noticed Millburn looked very happy. And Millburn just lost his mom and divorced. How did he make it? Actually, after Millburn’s family changes, he began to look for the important things in his life. He got interested in the minimalism and follow the minimalists like Joshua Becker, Leo Babauta. He started to discard things, threw away the unworn clothes, unused stuffs, collect those things that are not needed from house to house, then donated them to a charity or the people who was in need. Later on, he began to ask himself, why I buy so many things that I don’t need? He found the answers were ridiculous,
- “I just bought something because someone else bought it
- Or the advertisement says I should buy
- Or just to make others envy
- Or to let others take a high look
- Or the fear of losing what you might need.”
Too much material, doesn’t make life happier, it became a burden for people.
- “I bought ten cups, and the only one I use is the most common one. It has to be cleaned every once in a while.
- Bought a lot of clothes, but never wear them. Not only is it troublesome to find clothes, but it also takes time to organize.”
He discarded 90% of the items in his house and made sure everything that remains is indispensable. Such minimalist life has not made Millburn feel empty, but he felt that his heart was getting more and more fulfilled. He gave up the six-figure job. Since then, he had lot of time to think what he really wants and started to do what he likes. Two years later, he became a best-selling author. Nicodemus imitated Millburn’s methods, and has lived a minimal life in 21 days. He felt rich for the first time. Soon after, they published their first book, Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life, and opened their website: The Minimalists.
A research shows, the average American household owns more than 300,000 items. Most people think that material can bring happiness. In the time led by materialism and consumerism, Millburn and Nicodemus used their stories shown to the people that the minimalist lifestyle can free everyone from material desires.
“The thing that gets us past the things so we can make room for life’s most important things—which aren’t things at all.” They told Inc. magazine, “Minimalists don’t focus on having less, less, less; we focus on making room for more: more time, more passion, more experiences, more growth, more contribution, more contentment. Clearing the clutter from life’s path helps us make that room.”
A few years ago, by chance, I saw their story in an article. Since then, I started to pay attention to the minimalist lifestyle and the related topics. Although I haven’t achieved to be a minimalist, it is a goal in my life. I found why it is difficult for people to do it, one reason is this era of rapid development, we always have a sense of insecurity that makes us want to have an endless variety of materials, for the past, for the present, and for the future. The more we want to have, the safer we think we are. At the same time, we are afraid of losing them, as if losing means they will be erased from our memory. Desires are getting harder and harder to be filled, and we are harder and harder to be pleased. Objects are only valuable when they are used or appreciated from the heart. Therefore, if you don’t want to be a person trapped by material wealth, will you live more freely, relaxedly with minimalist lifestyle?
For my understanding minimalist does not suggest people throw away everything, but that what to throw away must be something that is really unnecessary and worthless to the owner. Meanwhile, avoid buying things that are not necessarily which equals don’t buy garbage. Same applies to work and leisure time. The most important is to find what you really want, spend more on what you really care, and waste less time on thing that will not bring any happiness or sense of accomplishment. Anything you gain requires something you pay.