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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.

We Have No Problems

Houston, we don’t have a problem.

It is with our utmost and deepest regret that we are writing you this missive to inform you that you don’t have any problems. Sure, you may think you have problems, and we know what you’re thinking: Yes I do! I have all kinds of problems!

No you don’t.

Yes I do!

Umm, no you don’t.

YES I DO! I have thousands of problems!

Really? Thousands?

Well, maybe hundreds of problems.

No you don’t.

Stop saying that! Yes I do!

Fine, name your hundreds of problems, then.

I don’t have enough money to pay my bills. My significant other left me. I lost my home to foreclosure. I lost my job. My phone got shut off because I couldn’t pay the bill. I spilled food on my shirt at lunch today. My cat ate my homework. Umm, OK, am I over 100 problems yet?

Seriously, though, you really should make a list. Go on, give it a try. Take five minutes and write down all your problems, it will be useful for this next part.

OK, did you do it?

If not, stop reading and write them down.

OK, now take a look at your list. How many problems did you have? Twenty? Fifty? One hundred and eighteen?

Well, regardless of the number…

You know deep down those aren’t real problems, and you have the power to fix them if you really want to. You also know there are people in this world with real problems (genocide, imprisonment, slavery, disease, health issues, etc.).

Thankfully, you live somewhere where you have access to the Internet, which means you probably have relatively easy access to food and water, and you live in a relatively developed country.

So, as long as you have your health, you don’t have real problems. You have challenges.

Perhaps that sounds like semantic wordplay, but it’s not. We all face challenges in life, and some of them are extremely difficult challenges—challenges that seem insurmountable at times. But challenges are also what makes life exciting and interesting and fun. Challenges often give meaning to our lives.

Let’s face it, our lives would be extremely boring without challenges. So, it’s time to recognize that most of the time we don’t have any problems, not real problems anyway. It’s also time to acknowledge our challenges and do something about them. We must take action if we want to make a change.