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The Minimalists

Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus help over 20 million people live meaningful lives with less through their website, books, podcast, and documentary. The Minimalists have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, Forbes, TIME, ABC, CBS, NBC, BBC, CBC, and NPR.

Obsolete Things

There are many things that once brought joy to our lives but no longer serve a purpose in today’s world.

Walkmans.
Laserdiscs.
Fax machines.
Pleated khakis.
Mail-order catalogs.
Palm Pilots.
The Furby.

But most of us clung to these artifacts well into their obsolescence, often out of a pious sense of nostalgia. The hallmarks of the past have a strange way of leaving claw marks on the present.

We hold deathgrips on our VHS collections, our unused flip phones, our oversized Bugle Boy jeans—not repairing or recycling these items, but storing them with the rest of our untouched hoard. As our collections grow, our basements, closets, and attics become purgatories of stuff, our lives overflowing with unemployed miscellanea.

Your life is likely still filled with things that’ve fallen into disuse, and this lack of use is the final sign that you should let go.

You see, as our needs, desires, and technologies change, so does the world around us. The objects that add value today may not add value tomorrow, which means we must be willing to let go of everything, even the tools that serve a purpose today. For if we let go, we can find temporary new homes for our neglected belongings and allow them to serve a purpose in someone else’s life, if only for a while, instead of collecting dust in our homegrown mausoleums.

On a long enough timeline, everything becomes obsolete. A hundred years from now the world will be filled with new humans, and they’ll’ve abandoned their USB cables, iPhones, and flatscreen televisions, letting go of the past to make room for the future.

This means we must be responsible about the new bits and pieces we bring into our lives today, and we must be equally sensible when those things become obsolete. A willingness to let go is life’s most mature virtue.

This essay was published in our side project, Minimalism Life.