THE QUEST FOR LESS
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. >