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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 being 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 or take photos or 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 terribly fond of those number-filled grids occupying our glowing screens.)

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

Shortly after the industrial revolution, though, corporations found themselves wading through 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 that in order to “keep the economy going” we have to buy more stuff. What’s worse is that 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 and onto our screens and into our personal lives via Facebook and other outlets—and when we do, the void gets 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 and anxiety and depression, effectively deepening the void. Our possessions possess us. They weigh us down mentally, physically, emotionally, and the void becomes cavernous.

Thus, we need to realize that the real void is on the other side of the equation. The void most of us feel is a creative void. We’ve been so caught up in our consumeristic mindset that we’ve forgotten about our inherent need to create. The solution, then, is to create more and consume less. If we spend more time creating, we will necessarily spend less time consuming. This is how we tip the scales of contentment back in our direction. This is how we solve our individual problems of compulsory consumption and mindless self-indulgence.

So let’s each of us pick 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.