Two FRIENDS, some pack­ing BOXES and a WEB­SITE – The Min­i­mal­ists are prov­ing you don’t need MUCH to make an IM­PACT.


how to down­size, de­clut­ter and re­fo­cus with the blog­gers be­hind ‘the min­i­mal­ists’

There’s one com­ment that Joshua Fields Mill­burn gets a lot: You don’t look like a min­i­mal­ist. “Dif­fer­ent peo­ple have dif­fer­ent con­cep­tions about what min­i­mal­ism is,” he says. “When I say min­i­mal­ism to some peo­ple, it sounds sub­ver­sive and stark. It con­jures up all kinds of im­ages of de­pri­va­tion or monks liv­ing in a monastery. But I’m talk­ing on a phone right now, wear­ing a shirt and pants and shoes. I have a comfy bed and a couch. It’s not about con­sum­ing noth­ing, it’s about con­sum­ing the right amount for you.”

It’s been seven years since the 35-yearold from Ohio de­cided to down­size his life, sell or trash 90 per cent of his be­long­ings and fol­low a min­i­mal­ist life­style. It was a change that led him to quit his cor­po­rate job and launch a blog about his ex­pe­ri­ences, tak­ing him down an en­tirely new ca­reer path.

Since then, Joshua and Ryan Ni­code­mus co-founded The Min­i­mal­ists and have made a liv­ing from own­ing min­i­mal pos­ses­sions. Their blog has led to sev­eral books, a pod­cast and a doc­u­men­tary. They’ve toured the world speak­ing at events, book sign­ings and TEDx con­fer­ences.

Their mis­sion? To in­spire other peo­ple to har­ness the prin­ci­ples of min­i­mal­ism to re­duce the stuff in their lives, to con­sume less and cre­ate more, to ques­tion what things add value to their life, to ex­pe­ri­ence free­dom and gen­er­ally feel more ful­filled.

SOME­TIMES it TAKES a jar­ring IN­CI­DENT to make us STEP BACK and QUES­TION our life FO­CUS.

“I first stum­bled across min­i­mal­ism when I heard of a guy, Colin Wright, who owns just 52 items he can fit in one back­pack,” says Joshua. “I thought it was ad­mirable, but I didn’t as­pire to live in that way. How­ever, I did have an urge to sim­plify my own life, if I could cre­ate my own recipe for min­i­mal­ism.”

This was back in 2009 and, at the time, Joshua and Ryan were earn­ing six-fig­ure salaries work­ing at a telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions cor­po­ra­tion, with lux­ury cars, big houses and ex­pen­sive clothes – an abun­dance of stuff. But the Amer­i­can dream wasn’t liv­ing up to its prom­ise.

“The sub­ject of hap­pi­ness kept com­ing up in our con­ver­sa­tions,” says Joshua. “With each pro­mo­tion at work, with each award or fancy trip we won, with ev­ery nugget of praise we re­ceived, the hap­pi­ness ac­com­pa­ny­ing those things quickly came and went.”

Around this time, Joshua’s mum died of stage 4 lung can­cer. “Some­times it takes a jar­ring in­ci­dent to make us step back and ques­tion our life fo­cus,” he says. While sift­ing through his mother’s pos­ses­sions, he learnt im­por­tant lessons: we are not our stuff, our me­mories are within us, old pho­tographs can be scanned, you can take pic­tures of items you want to re­mem­ber, and let­ting go of things is free­ing.

Af­ter sort­ing through his mother’s home, he turned to his own. Over the course of 30 days, Joshua let go of one item a day, ei­ther sell­ing it, throw­ing it away, or gift­ing it.

When his best friend Ryan heard about the ex­per­i­ment he de­cided to join in, al­though he fol­lowed a more ex­treme method. >


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