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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.

The Rats in the Tunnel


There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Intuitively, we all know this. Even when it’s hard to find, we know it’s there somewhere—somewhere just beyond the bend, somewhere within reach.

Finding the light isn’t the hardest part of life’s journey. It’s dealing with what’s hiding in the tunnel that’s incredibly difficult. What lurks in the darkness keeps us from focusing on the light.

Every time I visit New York City, I see oversized rats scurrying down the blackened train tracks below the subway platform. If I were to jump down and walk those tracks, I know I could find the light at the end of the subway tunnel, eventually.

But finding the light isn’t what worries me. What worries me are the rats in the tunnel. If I go down there and into the tunnel, I must contend with whatever stalks the darkness waiting to trip me up and keep me from seeing the light.

Metaphorically, the rats are no different from the plethora of pernicious obstacles that get in our way every day—the mundane tasks, the banal distractions, the vapid, harmful ways we pacify ourselves.

Minimalism allowed me to remove those obstacles and focus on the light; it allowed me to shoo the rats from the tunnel and find the light much quicker. In fact, minimalism allowed me to swiftly get out of the tunnel altogether, eschewing the malevolence of the filthy creatures hiding in the darkness.

And the light is so much brighter when you get out of the tunnel.

What are your rats? What keeps you in the tunnel, hidden from the light? Shopping? Television? Internet? Debt? Clothes? Gadgets and consumer electronics? Overeating? Something else?

What could you get rid of that would allow you to focus on the light? What can you remove from your life to make it more meaningful?

Shed some light, share this with others.