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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.

Create More, Consume Less

Every human has the innate desire to create: we all want to add value to the world. Hence, we are all creators of some sort: Some of us are writers, painters, musicians. Some people scrapbook, take photos, make cool things with their hands. For a long time the two of us, Joshua & Ryan, created—gulp—spreadsheets in the corporate world (although we weren’t fond of those number-filled grids).

Every human must also consume, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with consumption: It’s necessary. We must eat food, drink water. Plus, we all tend to purchase hygiene products, furniture for our homes, and other material possessions that bring us joy—books, music, etc.

Shortly after the Industrial Revolution, though, corporations found themselves drowning in too much supply and not enough demand. So, via advertisements and various talking heads, people were told they needed to consume more. Even today, we are told to “keep the economy going” we must buy more stuff. What’s worse is we buy into this lie.

Marketers do a great job convincing us we need more: they establish a void so we will try to fill it. This is no secret; in fact, we take it for granted now: amongst the bombardment, we realize what advertisers are doing, yet we still give them carte blanche with our attention—we let them into our homes, onto our screens, and into our personal lives via Facebook and other outlets—and when we do, the void grows deeper.

For most of us, however, the void has nothing to do with a need to consume more; in fact, the opposite is true: when we consume too much, we experience stress, anxiety, and depression, effectively deepening the void. Our possessions possess us. They weigh us down mentally, physically, emotionally, and the void becomes cavernous.

We must realize the real void is on the other side of the equation: the void most of us feel is a creative void—we’re so caught up in our consumeristic mindset we forget our inherent need to create. The solution, then, is to create more and consume less—if we spend more time creating, we will spend less time consuming: This is how we move the needle of contentment back to the positive. This is how we resolve our individual issues regarding compulsory consumption and mindless self-indulgence.

So let’s each select one meaningful thing we’d like to create—one thing that will add value to the world—and let’s create it: let’s fill the real void together.

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