Minimalism is just another form of conspicuous consumption, a way of saying to the world: ‘Look at me! Look at all of the things I have refused to buy!’
To be a digital minimalist, in other words, means you accept the idea that new communication technologies have the potential to massively improve your life, but also recognize that realizing this potential is hard work.
We misinterpret material renunciation, austere aesthetics and blank, emptied spaces as symbols of capitalist absolution, when these trends really just provide us with further ways to serve our impulse to consume more, not less.
If your thoughts while uncluttering often include the phrase, “I might need it some day,” it might be time to defeat this nefarious excuse, and finally let go of things you don’t need.
But what if you just stopped wanting things? You might find yourself living a life that’s much richer in experiences and closer to happiness. How to get there? Try minimalism.
A lot of people get minimalism confused. It’s not necessarily a good way to live. Or a free way to live for many people. It’s just the way I like to live. I like to be a wanderer. Without knowing where I am going to end up. To explore with no goal. To love without expectation.
About once a month, someone asks for my mailing address because they want to send me something. They liked something I wrote, and want to send me a gift in return. I’m very thankful, but have to say no. Here’s why.
I know in my life, going from being overwhelmed with clutter to minimalism was a slow but rewarding journey, and now I feel happy every time I look around and see the lovely space around me. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, I’m here to testify that it’s not impossible, and it just takes some small steps that add up over time. Here are the rules I suggest — though I don’t suggest adopting them all, and especially not all at once. Try a few out, see how they work for you, then try a few others.
Imagine a life where we could enjoy simple, free pleasures like going for a walk in nature, meditating, reading a book, writing. By buying less we’d have less debt, less clutter, less to take care of. We’d need smaller houses, less storage. Perhaps we could even work less to support all this buying, unless the work were something we loved to do.
I’ve been on a handful of long trips this year and in recent years, and on all those trips, I lived out of a small bag. I loved living so lightly, but every time I came home, it felt weird: all of a sudden I had about 10x more stuff. It didn’t feel in alignment with the light, minimal lifestyle. So after a 25-day trip to Asia last month, I came home with a mission: to live only out of the same bag I traveled with.
Minimalism is a lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives. By clearing the clutter from life’s path, we can all make room for the most important aspects of life: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution.
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.