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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 Netflix films. The Minimalists have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, Forbes, TIME, ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, BBC, and NPR.

The Advice Epidemic

The urge to convince others is overwhelming.
On the surface, it appears virtuous to help,
to instruct, to coach, to guide, to motivate.

Giving advice gives the impression of nobility,
as if we have a obligation to ameliorate the plight of the world,
to assist people headed the “wrong” way,
to point people in the “right” direction.

We are all middlemen in the middle of a self-help epidemic.

Just look at social media.
Overnight experts espousing advice:
You should wake up early.
You shouldn’t eat that.
You should embrace change.
You shouldn’t get anxious.
You should change your habits.
You shouldn’t wear socks with sandals.
(Okay, maybe they’ve got a point with that last one.)

But, really, there is no “should.”
There never was.
And without that sandcastle of “shoulds,”
all advice begins to crumble in the wind.

Each time we advise someone,
it may feel like it’s arising from a place of love,
but it’s actually the ego saying
I know what’s best for you.

The implication of which is disconcerting:
I am right, you are wrong,
and if you subordinate yourself to me,
I will fix you.

How is this loving?

There is no bigger ego than that of the Helper.
The helpful man simply cannot help himself.
He feels obligated to tear an eagle from the sky to save it from falling,
to drag a dolphin to shore to rescue it from drowning.

This is the opposite of helpful.
I know because I’ve done it a thousand times.
And for that, I’m sorry—a thousand apologies.

My first inclination is to delete it all—
every exhortation, recommendation, suggestion, and opinion—
everything from the past 39 years.

But we cannot start over by erasing the past.
We can only move forward in the Everlasting Now.

Perhaps I developed an allergy to advice
because propagating it only feeds the ego.

The ego is not a “bad” thing.
Just like fire is not “good” or “bad.”
It can warm you; it can burn you.

The desire to help isn’t good or bad, either.
It appears for myriad reasons,
all of which belong to the ego.
And fortifying the ego is a surefire way to decrease the peace.

To advise is to put oneself on a pedestal,
a plinth upon which no sincere person rests—
it necessitates we look down on others,
which is an abhorrent position for any human.

Advice? No!
I don’t want to help you;
I don’t want to not help you, either.
I want to Love you.

Love requires speaking the Truth
and remaining neutral as to whether it “helps” anyone.

If it helps, that’s fine.
If not, that’s fine, too.
The reception is up to the recipient.

The Truth is exposed through honest observation,
through seeking and awareness,
through an examination of obstacles
and a deeper understanding of the way things are.

To be clear, this is not a recommendation.
I don’t think you “should” do anything.
I’m not arguing my “point” in this missive.
Nor am I urging you to comprehend my “message.”
I don’t hope to convince you of anything.

The moment we try to convince someone,
we have lost the plot.

To convince, to influence, to prove oneself—
these are all ribs lining the same umbrella.

The Truth does not require persuasion, coaxing, or coercion—
it is the Truth whether you’re convinced or not.
As is Love.