Watch The Minimalists' TEDx Talk: A Rich Life with Less Stuff

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

The Minimalists, photo by Adam Dressler

Let’s talk about friends, family, and minimalism.

Today Ryan’s father, Eric, visited to help with a few drywall repairs. When he walked into Ryan’s condo, Eric saw the mountains of boxes in the condo’s second living room. (Aside: Why the hell does Ryan have two living rooms?!)

“Is this part of your whole minimalism thing?” Eric asked, having been clued in a few days prior.

“Yes, it is,” Ryan replied. “And I can’t tell you how good it feels to have this stuff packed up and ready to give away!” Eric related by relaying a similar experience he’d had while cleaning out his garage recently.

After the drywall repairs were finished, Ryan’s girlfriend, Mindie, joined them for lunch. Ryan unpacked plates, silverware, and glasses for their meal. As they ate, they discussed minimalism. Both Eric and Mindie were genuinely interested in how Ryan wanted to change his life; they were totally supportive of the change.

It’s important to have a group of supportive people—friends, family, coworkers—around when you’re making significant life changes. And while it’s not necessary to have these people around during your journey into minimalism, it can make things easier. These people might not even fundamentally believe the same things you do (Ryan’s dad didn’t wholly comprehend the concepts of minimalism, and his girlfriend was somewhat ambivalent on the topic), but they are still willing to support you because they care about you: they want you to be happy.

Before he left, Eric asked Ryan if he had any suits he was getting rid of. Ryan walked into the second living room, and then returned with five nearly-new suits. This prompted Eric to ask Ryan if there were any other clothes he didn’t want—he thought if Ryan wasn’t using them, someone at his church could use them instead.

Ryan encouraged Eric to take whatever he wanted. By the time he had rummaged through everything, Eric left with five bags of clothes, five pieces of drywall, four book bags, one camping backpack, two coolers, and a host of other knickknacks. His truck was overflowing with stuff.

It’s been said one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. This was certainly the case today: just because Ryan wasn’t getting value from his excess belongings doesn’t mean someone else won’t get value from them.

Spending time with his dad and his girlfriend today made Ryan realize that the people in our lives are much more important than the things in our lives: the boxes of belongings in his second living room are filled with replaceable items—but his relationships are irreplaceable.

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 what you’re doing. They might think you’re a little crazy initially, but that’s OK—the people who truly care about you will support you in your mission to change your life.

“Relationships” is Day 7 of Our 21-Day Journey into Minimalism. Move on to Day 8. Read Ryan’s journal entries from this journey in Everything That Remains. You can also subscribe to The Minimalists via email.