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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.

Gospel of Minimalism

Religion is a complicated and sensitive subject for many. Even though we don’t typically speak or write about religion, its presence seems to loom over each event we host. Curiosity is natural, so it’s inevitable: people often approach us and say things like, “It’s wonderful to see two guys spreading Jesus Christ’s message.” Which is usually followed by another person saying, “It’s great to see a couple Buddhists sharing their story.” Or, “Did you know Muhammad was the original minimalist?”

In a well-written, but unfortunately titled, newspaper article in Tennessee, we were recently said to be “spreading the gospel of less,” the connotation of which is a bit troubling. Even more troubling was a radio host’s take in Oklahoma City when he referred to us as the “L. Ron Hubbard of minimalism.” (Thankfully he was joking.)

Whatever your religious beliefs, we have no spiritual advice for you. The beautiful thing about minimalism, though, is it works whether you’re religious or not. We personally know minimalists who are Christian pastors, minimalists who are practicing Buddhists, minimalists who are atheists. We even know a minimalist rabbi. Because minimalism is a lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives, it applies to any religion—or no religion at all.

In fact, the two of us hold radically different religious beliefs. Our journeys toward simplicity, however, had nothing to do with religion; instead, it was a reaction to the discontentment we experienced after being steeped in consumerism for three decades.

We live in a world in which many people have different beliefs, different faiths. But God or no God, we can all live more deliberately.

Read this essay and 150 others in our new book, Essential.