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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.

Pendulums and Extremes

Montana is a state steeped in extremes. Earlier this year, as April gave way to May and snow dusted my eyebrows, I still needed my puffer coat to stay warm. Less than two months later, however, as we waved goodbye to June, the city was erumpent with temps brushing against triple digits.

These extremes are merely bookends, though, markers by which we observe the spectrum. And these extremes don’t last. Soon, summer will set in, and we’ll be back to 72º and sunny, spending long summer afternoons by Flathead Lake.

In many ways, I’m the same way. My life has been peppered with similar (almost ironic) extremes: “Director of 150 retail stores becomes a minimalist and rejects consumerism.” “Six-figure executive walks away from his career and earns less than he did as a teen.” “Entertainment-addicted jerk jettisons his television and home Internet.” Et cetera.

But of course the flip-side benefits are just as extreme, too: “Depressive man discovers lasting happiness.” “Rejected writer becomes bestselling novelist.” “Fatso loses 80 pounds and gets in the best shape of his life.” Et cetera.

Sometimes we have to move from one extreme to another in an effort to course correct. Sometimes we must embrace, at least temporarily, the discomfort of the other side of the spectrum. Sometimes we must hit both walls before we find the middle.

Eventually, once the pendulum has traversed both extremes, we discover what works for us, and we end up somewhere completely different from where we started—somewhere in between both extremes.