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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.

We Have No Problems

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:

But, yes I do! I have all kinds of problems!

No you don’t.

Yes I do!

Um, 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.

List Your Problems

I don’t have enough money to pay my bills. My girlfriend/husband/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. Um, OK, am I over 100 problems yet?

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…

Those Aren’t Problems

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 (e.g., genocide, imprisonment, slavery, disease, 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, you don’t have real problems. You have challenges.

Perhaps that sounds like some semantical 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 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.

We must also be thankful for our challenges, be thankful for an interesting life.

Take action. Start living.

Health: The Exception, but Not a Complete Exception

We acknowledge there is one exception to the “No Problems” rule, and that exception deals with health. Some people have some serious health issues with which they struggle. Many of those people also still live a full, meaningful life despite their health issues.

Take, for example, Nick Vujicic. Nick was born without limbs, and yet he loves living life. You will be touched by his video (it’s the second video).

No Problems In The End

You can take action today to address your challenges.

If your home was foreclosed, then find a small apartment, reduce your expenses, and live a simpler life.

If your significant other moved on, then take some time to reflect on the relationship, see what you can change within yourself, and change it so you can move on.

If you lost your job, then perhaps now is the time for you to work on that thing you’ve always wanted to work on (e.g., that website, that novel, that new start-up business). If you drastically reduce your expenses, you can do it. Yes, you can do it even if you have a family to support; Leo Babauta proved that already.

The point is that you can tackle any challenge that you have. You must take action today.