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The Minimalists

Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus write about living a meaningful life with less stuff for 2 million readers. As featured on: CBS, BBC, NPR, Forbes, The Atlantic, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, and National Post. They live in Missoula, Montana.

Day 8: Beliefs

Beliefs

Beliefs (Unpacking Part 5)

Have you ever stopped to think about where your beliefs come from?

I’m not talking about the religious beliefs a lot of people grow up with because of their parents, but all of your beliefs in total. The sum of your beliefs.

I’m talking about the house we all believe we need to have, the 2.5 children we believe we need to create, the two cars we believe are necessary to live the American Dream.

I’m not sure where all of mine came from, but I am discovering that many of my beliefs are total bullshit.

I am finding out that my condo, the shit in it, and the boxes I have packed up are not as important as I once believed they were. I have unpacked only a handful of items up to this point. I’m really surprised because when I first packed everything up, I packed a lot of things that I truly believed I needed to keep. I believed it deep down.

And yet here are the majority of the boxes. Just sitting here. Unpacked. Unused.

My journey into minimalism to this point has not only opened my eyes to the “stuff” I have, but I’ve also noticed the other stuff too. My friends. My habits. My job. My condo. My diet. My health. My family. My thoughts.

My Thoughts

When it comes to friends, we grow up in a society where image is everything (remember that Sprite commercial) and in order to have a “cool” image we need to hang out with the right people.

Take, for example, my teenage sister who is about half my age and is just now going through her freshman year in high school. Like most freshman she has this big worry about who likes her and who doesn’t. I hate to sound like my grandpa here, but if I knew then what I knew now I wouldn’t have been so afraid, and neither would she. She would realize that her beliefs about being cool won’t get her through high school, and they won’t keep her from making poor decisions.

She also believes that she has to do what the other kids do to be accepted. I did too when I was that age and it’s pretty sad when I look back at it, because I realize that I let my friends dictate what my habits were (e.g. smoking pot, smoking cigarettes, getting drunk, etc.).

And then there are my beliefs about my job…

When I graduated high school I went to work for my dad right away. He has a small painting/wallpaper business. The idea was for me to take over the family business one day. We worked in countless million dollar homes, and I realized that painting and wallpapering would never allow me to afford any of the homes I worked in.

I decided to leave the family business after four years and I got a sales job at a telecommunications company. As soon as I earned my first commission check I knew I was on my way to making six figures, and I told myself that once I reached that point everything would be OK. I believed everything would be OK.

And I believed this for six years just to realize that unless I’m happy with what I have in the present, no amount of money would make me happy. This is my new belief, but after meeting many happy people I know it’s the truth.

You know what else is true? We make up our own beliefs.

You can read that last line a thousand times, but I hope you truly understand what those words mean. My friends, my habits, my job, my happiness is all up to me and what I choose, and so are yours.

No matter if you’re young or old you always have the choice, so choose carefully.

Unpacking

Sure I unpacked a few things today, but not much. It’s crazy to see all the stuff that I have packed away that I don’t ever use. I just don’t need it.

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