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The Minimalists

Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus write about living a meaningful life with less stuff for 3 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.

Pushing Through Frustration, and Why I’m Getting Rid of My Phone

frustrated by phone

Whenever I make a big change in my life, I tend to get frustrated.

When I got rid of television, the first few weeks were frustrating. When I killed the Internet at home, the first month was frustrating. When I stopped buying stuff for a year, the first four months were frustrating. When I changed my diet and started exercising daily, the first six months were frustrating.

Eventually the frustration turns into reward, the pain becomes pleasure. This process is gradual, but it happens. The key for me has been finding ways to push through the initial frustration—pushing through the pain, knowing pleasure is just around the bend.

In the end, tomorrow’s pleasure drastically outweighs the ephemeral pain of today.

And now, for my next magic trick, I’m getting rid of my smartphone for a couple months while I focus on rewriting my novel. In fact, I’ll have no phone at all. No landline, no Skype, no cheap cellphone.

I’m not a Luddite. I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with TV, Internet at home, cellphones, or technology in general (all these things can be wonderful tools in our lives). Rather, I want to get rid of unnecessary distractions so I can be more productive, focus on what’s most important, and better enjoy my life. More importantly, I want to see what effect this change will have on my psyche. Every change I’ve made has had a profound effect on the way I see my life—my perspective today is radically different than yesterday’s perspective.

My lack of a telephone also means my face-to-face interactions with my friends will become more meaningful. Dinner or coffee or a walk through Dayton will mean so much more because we won’t have the luxury of updating each other with every banal detail of our lives via text message or a five-minute phone call. Every interaction will be an opportunity for us to live in the moment, to be on the mountain.

But what about emergencies? Truth be told, I can’t possibly plan for every emergency. It’s fear that makes us try to plan for every potential pothole. My neighbors have a phone if I really need one. My local coffee shop has Internet when I need to get online. My friends will still be able to contact me via email. I’ll still be able to update social media when I’m on the Internet.

So many people have told me, I could never give up my cellphone. I used to say the same thing. The truth is, yes they could, but they choose not to live without. There’s nothing wrong with that choice, but realize you can do anything you want to do. Sometimes you just need to make the change and push through the initial frustration.

I’ll write an essay about the results of this experiment once it’s over. In the meantime, I’ll keep you updated via Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.