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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.

Don’t Upgrade

The newest, latest, greatest version of Product X is available today. It’s only X dollars and it does all the cool things you never knew it could do. If you act now, Product X will change your life.

We know we don’t need Product X to live a good life (even if we really, really want it). We know we don’t have to buy the new iPhone when our old phone works just fine. We know we don’t need a new car just because the old one isn’t as shiny, just as we know we don’t need the latest version of software, iPad, television, laptop, or gadget to make us happy.

Advertisers spend millions of dollars to create a sense of urgency to make us drool over their products, but we can refuse to play that game. We can turn down the noise. We can focus on what we have instead of what we don’t have. We already have everything we need.

Sure, sometimes things break or wear out over time. And when that happens, we are left with at least three options:

Go without. This option is almost taboo in our culture. It seems radical to many people: Why would I go without when I could just buy a new one? Often this option is the best option, though. When we go without, it forces us to question our stuff, it forces us to discover whether or not we need it—and sometimes we discover life without it is actually better than before.

Repair it. Sometimes we can’t necessarily go without. But, instead of running out and procuring Product X, we can attempt to repair the item first. You wouldn’t buy a new car just because the brakes needed to be replaced, would you? The same goes for many other household items.

Replace it. As a last resort, we can replace things. But even when we do this, we can do so mindfully. We can purchase used items, we can buy products from local businesses, and often we can downgrade and still have what’s necessary to live a fulfilling life.

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