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The Minimalists The Minimalists
Emmy-nominated Netflix stars, podcasters, and New York Times–bestselling authors Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus help millions of people live meaningfully with less. The Minimalists have been featured in TIME, GQ, ABC, CBS, NBC, BBC, NPR, and they have spoken at Harvard, Apple, Google.

Minimalism Is Not a Radical Lifestyle

When some people meet me, and they feel compelled to talk about minimalism, they think I live a radical lifestyle. They say things like “I could never be a minimalist.”

But the truth is that my lifestyle is not radical, and I’m not a radical person. If you met me today, and we didn’t talk about minimalism (which we probably wouldn’t), you wouldn’t think my lifestyle is much different from yours:

I don’t count my stuff, but I have hundreds of things, even after I got rid of 90% of my stuff: I own a car. I own pots and pans and kitchen utensils. I own a queen-size bed. I own a smartphone. I own a laptop. I own a desk. I own a guitar. I own some furniture. I own a shelf full of books. I own a dresser and a washer and dryer and more than a few days’ worth of clothes.

But there are three key distinctions:

1. I don’t own excess. I have only the things I use frequently, things that add value to my life; but I don’t have extra stuff, I don’t have just-in-case items. If I wanted to change my lifestyle, then my definition of “excess” would change, as well. For example, if I wanted to become a peripatetic writer, traveling the world like my friend Colin, then I would need to drastically reduce my possessions. But, at this point in my life, I’m happy with where I live, and I don’t desire to travel extensively. If that changes, then I will change.

2. I constantly question possessions. Do I still need this? When is the last time I used this? What would happen if I got rid of this? Could someone use this more than me? These are questions I consistently ask myself. Because I constantly question my possessions, I am in a perpetual state of paring down, which feels good. There is no endgame, I will never arrive—I will continue the journey the rest of my life.

3. I don’t give meaning to possessions. Most important, I understand that my possessions can be replaced. Someone recently asked me what I would grab if my apartment caught fire. “Nothing,” I responded. “Everything I own is replaceable.”

Minimalism is not a radical lifestyle. Minimalism is a tool I use to get rid of unnecessary stuff and live a meaningful life—a life filled with happiness, freedom, and conscious awareness. Because I strip away life’s excess, I’m able to focus on the important parts of life: health, relationships, passions, growth, and contribution. That’s what living a meaningful life is about for me.

How about you—what could you strip away that would allow you to focus on the important aspects of your life?