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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.

The Worst Christmas Ever

It’s Christmas Day. Little Andy tears off wrapping paper to reveal Optimus Prime. He smiles as the large robot toy comes to life with flashes and beeps. Andy’s parents’ expressions, however, are more pained grimaces than smiles as the toy twirls away.

A few minutes later, Andy discards the toy and begins unwrapping the rest of his presents, extracting each box from under the tree, one by one—some long, some tall, some heavy, some light. Each box reveals a new toy. Each shred of green-and-red wrapping paper, a flash of happiness.

An hour later, however, little Andy is crying hysterically. Based on his fits, this has undoubtedly been the Worst. Christmas. Ever. Sure, Andrew received many of the things on his list—but he’s far more concerned with what he didn’t receive. The toys in front of him simply remind him of what he doesn’t have.

Sounds childish, but we do the same thing: we look at things around us and want more. We covet the neighbor’s new car, the co-worker’s new clothes, the friend’s new iPhone.

What if Andy was happy with the toys in front of him? What if we were, too?

Read this essay and 150 others in our new book, Essential.