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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.

Labels Are Necessary


I don’t label myself a [blank], but…

We hear prefaces like this all the time. There seems to be this strange misnomer promulgated throughout the internet—and throughout our day-to-day lives for that matter—that labels are a bad thing.

We would like to posit to you, however, that labels aren’t necessarily a bad thing at all. In fact, labels are a necessary part of our lives. If you use a language, then you are, by definition, labeling things.

Label: I am sitting in a chair. Label: I am typing on a computer. Several labels: I am a thirty year old heterosexual white male.

So, why are we so bothered with labels? The rub seems to be when we give too much meaning to our labels. You see, you’re not only a black woman or a tall man or an ill person or an agoraphobic kleptomaniac. You are so much more. You are thousands of labels at once, and that is OK. Labeling is just the start in the process of better understanding someone or something.

Labels are like material possessions—they are necessary, but we don’t need to give them as much meaning as we often do.

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