Most people would assume the more things you have the happier you will be, but some people believe the exact opposite; they are called minimalists. Minimalism is the idea of prioritizing your life around the things you just want and the things you need. It is a tool, as Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, commonly known as “The Minimalists,” refer to it. This tool allows individuals to find freedom.
Millburn and Nicodemus have been traveling the world speaking about their experiences and teaching others how to apply this tool to their own life for over five years. The pair quit their high-paying corporate jobs, left their big houses and fancy cars, and changed the way they lived. They discuss how the idea of minimalism gets a little lost in translation. People tend to think it revolves solely around decluttering your car, house, or life from material possessions like a television, extra furniture, electronics, excess clothing, and more, but The Minimalists believe it’s much more than that. Minimalism isn’t just about getting rid of the possessions in your life, it’s about creating more opportunities for happiness and meaning. The dynamic duo say by getting rid of the distractions and the things that aren’t directly important to your overall well-being; the electronics that waste precious time and keep us indoors, the media and advertising that influences our minds to think one way and purchase a specific product or service, the closets filled wall-to-wall with clothes you haven’t worn for months or years, you are creating more time and freedom for yourself, more experiences, and allowing more room for personal growth.
The whole point is to create a more meaningful and happy life using less and only things you truly need. People seem to be stuck in this cycle of growing up thinking money buys happiness and you need a well-paying job to buy that so-called “happiness” in the forms of houses, cars, and luxury clothes and accessories. If you happen to find a career in the realm of your passion or major from college, that fills your life with a little more meaning and purpose. But the other likely case is that you are stuck in a job you hate just for the money to buy all these things we think we need. In a minimalistic life, you shouldn’t have to feel like you must work somewhere you dislike just for money or just to get by. People who have all these luxuries only look successful because society has put an image around what they think success is. But, is having multiple cars, a big house, and expensive gadgets really what makes you successful?
Minimalists want to show people they can live with less and be just as happy if not more. Once Millburn and Nicodemus left their corporate jobs they hated working at, they got to travel more and do the things that actually made them happy. They gave up certain amenities like a car and big home, which financially has saved them hundreds of thousands of dollars. A minimalistic lifestyle can help with relieving or preventing debt, spending and shopping less, pursuing passions, growth as an individual, less discontent, and more meaning. It allows you to focus on the truly important values in your life and live in the moment. Senior music industry major Huascar Holguin learned about the idea of minimalism and has been looking for ways to declutter his life. “I think it [minimalism] could benefit me a lot by eliminating all unnecessary possession and material desires from life. Allowing me to focus on the things that truly matter like connections and people. I think it will lead to a more virtuous life.”
Due to each person having their own lifestyles and situations, there is no easy recipe for a minimalistic life. Each person can interpret it and apply it to their own life differently. For those adults who have already started a family, it might be a little harder to get rid of certain things like a car or extra space if there are children in the picture. Any step taken towards creating more and consuming less are beneficial and a great start on the road to a more meaningful and happy life.
Some may get rid of most of their clothes or clear the clutter from their home, others will sell their car or their home, but they all are living a minimalistic lifestyle in their own ways. Mikala Miller, a recent graduate from Monmouth University, lives a healthy proactive vegan and minimalistic lifestyle. “I think I do it in many different ways. I like to make people gifts instead of buying them. Currently my boyfriend and I are redoing the van so we can travel and sleep in it and not have to spend money on hotel rooms and be able to see the remote areas instead of high volume cities.”
Specialist Professor at Monmouth University and active minimalist Mary Harris has been going at the simplistic lifestyle for a couple of years now. She says “Simplicity is a part of who I am. It is something that I always felt drawn to even as a child, but it wasn’t until adulthood, namely the past several years of my life, that I really started to embrace it naturally.” Harris goes on to say “the concept of minimalism is not a new thing. When you think about it, it has been a part of our natural existence. It’s just that because of all of the options and the type of society we live in, it is easy to go overboard on everything without even realizing it. Minimalism brings all of this into awareness.”
Harris had some insight to share for those interested in making some changes in their lives. “My main tip for anyone who wants to simplify their life is this: Take a few minutes to sit quietly and ask yourself, “Is any of the stress in my life self-induced?” Then, “Is there anything holding me back from living a life filled with conscious connection, intention, and happiness?” The answers to those two questions will be revealing and will guide the process of letting go of what no longer serves you.”
Minimalism is a very thought-provoking and important concept that can be grasped by everyone and applied in many different ways. We have become such a consumer culture that people are tricked from youth thinking these materialistic items are needs and that we must work extra hard to make enough money to continue buying them throughout life. Minimalism can help prioritize what’s important in your life and help you live a simpler and happier life filled with meaning and joy.