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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.

Repaying Intellectual Debt

Repaying Debt

How does one repay an intellectual debt?

We recently received this question in a kind, handwritten letter from a reader named Suravi. She wanted to know how to pay back the value we’ve added to her life. She wondered how she could repay us for sharing our thoughts, for sharing our journey, for helping her see that the option she’d been given wasn’t the only option in life.

Our answer: don’t pay it back, pay it forward.

Truth be told, there are several people who’ve helped the two of us become the men we are today, people whose words and ideas have shaped who we are, people whom we’ll never be able to compensate for the value they’ve provided—the type of value that isn’t labeled with a price tag.

So instead of requiting those people, we choose to pay it forward. Hence, we go to great lengths to share our story, to document our myriad changes, so people can discover alternative paths toward happiness. With the exception of our books, the vast majority of what we write is free, which is our small way to contribute to the world.

You see, some debts you can repay only by traversing the world with kindness and respect and intentionality. Such truisms might sound trite or cliche, but they become self-evident once you consider the  value already bestowed upon you and begin to pay it forward.