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The Minimalists

Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus write about living a meaningful life with less stuff for 4 million readers. As featured on: ABC, CBS, NBC, BBC, TODAY, NPR, TIME, Forbes, The Atlantic, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and National Post. They live in Missoula, Montana.

Day 7: Relationships

Friends Family Minimalism

Friends and Family and Minimalism (Unpacking Part 4)

Today my dad came over to help me with some drywall repairs and other little projects I had to do around my condo (by the way, home maintenance is a really good reason to not own a home, but we’ll get to that on a different day of our journey).

When he walked in he saw the packed boxes and bags of clothes in my second family room (why the hell do I have two family rooms again?).

I spoke to him about minimalism before today, so he had an idea of what I was doing. He asked me, “Is this part of your whole minimalism thing?”

“Yes it is,” I replied, “and I can’t tell you how good it feels to have this stuff packed up and ready to give away!” Then he went on about how great it feels to do something like that, and used his experience with cleaning out his garage to relate.

While my dad and I worked around the condo, my girlfriend was in and out all day. Early in the afternoon, we all broke for lunch and I had to unpack another plate for my dad, as well as a glass and some utensils. We talked about minimalism and it was nice to see them both engaged and interested in what I was doing. They were both interested in how I wanted to change my life. They were supportive of the change.

It is important to have a group of supportive people (be it friends, family, coworkers, etc.) around you when you are making big changes in your life. And while it’s not necessary to have these people around during your journey into minimalism, it can make things much easier. These people might not even fundamentally believe the same things you do (it’s obvious to me that my dad doesn’t totally get the concepts of minimalism [yet], and my girlfriend is somewhat ambivalent on the topic), but they are still willing to support you because they care about you.

Later in the day, we finished the work that needed to be done and my dad asked me if I had any suits that I was getting rid of. I said I had five or so. He asked if he could have all of the clothes that I didn’t want any more so he could see if anyone at church could use them (it was like reverse home delivery).

Of course I let him take what he wanted. By the time he rummaged through everything, he left with—get ready for this—five bags of clothes, five pieces of drywall, five book bags, one camping backpack, two coolers, and a bunch of other knickknacks. His truck was loaded full of stuff.

The saying “another man’s trash is another man’s treasure” was certainly the case today. Well, at least partially the case. I do know that most of my things will be given to people who need them (e.g., some of my suits will go to people who need a suit for church or for an interview). But I also know that most people (especially within our culture) can’t pass up free junk, and some of the folks at my dad’s church will end up with a bunch of my crap that, in the end, they will end up throwing out or donating (a vicious cycle of consumerism). Much of it is just junk that they don’t need (just like I didn’t need it).

Spending time with my dad and my girlfriend today made we realize that people are much more important than the things in my life. The boxes of crap in my family room are worth nothing and are all filled with replaceable items. My relationships with my family and my friends are irreplaceable, and they are what really matter.

Your action item for today is simple: make a list of people who are there for you, people who will support you on your journey into minimalism. Call those people today and tell them about what you’re doing. They might think you’re a little crazy at first, but that’s OK, because the people who really care about you will support you in your mission to change your life.

Go back to day 6 of your journey

Move on to day 8 of your journey

Go to the main page: Our Journey Into Minimalism: 21 Days That Changed Our Lives