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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.

Is Location Independence Bullshit?

“I can’t be a minimalist because I don’t have the desire to travel.”

Man, if we had a dollar for every time we heard something like that.

Many people stumble across the extreme aspects of minimalism and immediately think, “That is not for me.” They see minimalists with 55 things and think, “Not only does that seem unattainable for me and for my family, but I don’t even want that kind of lifestyle.” They see minimalists with peripatetic lifestyles who travel all over the world and say, “That’s cool, but I don’t want to do that.”

But of course minimalism isn’t about counting your stuff. Even Dave Bruno, the guy who started this whole counting thing with his 100 Thing Challenge, would tell you that counting is not the point.

And minimalism isn’t about traveling all over the world with everything you own strapped to your back, either.

Rather, minimalism is about taking the time to get rid of the excess stuff in your life so you can live a more meaningfully and focus on what’s important.

Thus, there is nothing wrong with living with 67 things or living in hotels in a bunch of different cities. We respect that. But we respect it because those people are pursuing the lifestyle they desire. A meaningful life to them is one that is filled with travel and meeting new people in new places and having new experiences all over the world. This is how they are growing as individuals, which is extremely important and admirable.

Conversely, there is also nothing wrong with owning 417 things or not counting your stuff at all.

If you want to travel the world, free of the burdens of location, that’s great! If you don’t, that’s great, too!

However, sometimes people don’t want to change their geographical location because they feel tethered to the area in which the live. Meaning that people have families and friends that are very important to them. One of the key factors in living a happy life is our relationships with others. But that doesn’t mean that one must stay in the same place forever.

True friends remain friends regardless of your location. And your family will always be related to you. Plus, your immediate family can move with you if you decide together to make a location change.

If you desire to live in a new place, don’t let the anchor of relationships hold you back. There are endless possibilities of new exciting relationships everywhere.

Conversely, there is something to be said for planting roots within a community. If the meaning of life is contribution—which we strongly believe it is—then a great way to contribute is to establish a foothold in a community and to contribute to the people in that community. That’s not to say you can’t travel and still contribute, but communities require community leaders, and thus someone must establish themselves as leaders within a community for the community to flourish.

Even with a strong tie to a community, it’s advisable to take the occasional journey outside your comfort zone to see the world from a fresh perspective. But we don’t feel obligated to travel. And that is perhaps the difference.

So if you’re contemplating a minimalist lifestyle, but feel burdened by the whole traveling requirement, don’t be. The majority of minimalists are not nomads. Some minimalists have families and children and suburban homes and personal baggage and go to school and practice their religion and live extraordinary lives with less stuff. That’s the commonality: minimalists live worthwhile lives by eliminating excess from their lives. Minimalists live a life of freedom, one in which they are aware of what’s going on around them and inside them. And regardless of their traveling preferences, they are walking with the living, not the dead.

So, no, we don’t think location independence is bullshit. If you’re passionate about traveling, then, by all means, have at it. Minimalism is great for that, too. But you can be happy either way. Said another way, there is no “wrong” way to live a minimalist lifestyle. A location independent lifestyle—a lifestyle of of moving and traveling all the time—or a community based lifestyle (or a combination of the two in some cases) are equally valuable.

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