Truth be told, I had just recently been introduced to these two, and I can't even remember how I stumbled upon them and their second joint book, Everything That Remains, but the Minimalist lifestyle has intrigued me for some time. After having read this book, I am eager to read more first-hand experiences of other minimalists who the authors name as influencers in their journey.
This book is a 'memoir' of sorts and documents Joshua's journey to becoming minimalist and why and how he felt the need to embrace this new lifestyle. After noticing a visible transformation in his friend, Ryan became interested in Josh's lifestyle change and also decided to become minimalist.
What really resonated with me about their story was that both men previously worked in corporate America and it was their disillusionment and feelings that that world no longer aligned with their personal values that led them to minimalism. That couldn't be closer to my truth at this point in my life. Everything that Joshua talks about in the book, the thoughts that living the 'American Dream' wasn't his dream after all could have come directly from my own mind over the past several years. Both worked their way up through the ranks of their company, and with every promotion and new raise, felt 'happiness' was closer and closer at hand. Except that it never came. The more they earned, the more they spent, in pursuit of fulfillment, acceptance and success. They were climbing a ladder with no end in sight, as so many Americans do. They became slaves to consumerism and mindless spending and were literally working their lives away.
When Joshua's mother died and his marriage ended in the same month, he decided his life needed to change and stumbled upon this movement called Minimalism through a random Twitter message and something about it just clicked.
In person the guys were really personable and relatable. Ryan started by telling a little about his story and then Josh took over doing some reading from the book. Then they segued into a Q&A session, alternating fielding questions from the audience. At the end we had the chance to get to speak with them one on one and get our books signed. Although I kind of stumbled over my words, I briefly told them how I've been on a similar journey since leaving corporate America and found both of them really inspiring. Then they both hugged me (*Side note - they both really love hugging!) and we took this pic. Truth: The world needs more people willing to hug perfect strangers.
I think one of the most important takeaways I got from the book and hearing the guys talk is that Minimalism isn't just about decluttering or living with less stuff. Initially, yes, that is the start and basis of the movement. But minimalism is also really a catalyst to a new way of living. The point of removing all your 'stuff' is to see 'everything that remains'. What remains will help you discover who you really are, what you really believe and value, and what you want out of life. Ultimately, the things you value will no longer be 'things'. For Joshua and Ryan, their lives now revolve around 5 meaningful pillars: Their Health, Relationships, Passions, Growth and Contribution. They are able to cultivate each of these more deeply because they've removed all the superfluous, meaningless things from their lives. They are now living more deliberately.
(*I invite you to check out their blog for more info on their take on the lifestyle, a tour through a minimalist apartment, and a lot of meaningful essays on the subject.)
Since shedding my old identity a year ago, I've been reevaluating my life and finding out what's most important to me. Although I'm no minimalist, I've definitely had to get by on much less than I've ever been used to. It's been hard at times, but I know I never want to be held prisoner in a cubicle again just to support a non-meaningful consumerist lifestyle. It really is true that you begin to see what you truly value when you remove certain things from your life.
To that end, I am going to participate in a little game for the month of June drawn up by the Minimalists. Each day I am going to rid myself of material possessions and see where I end up at the end of the month (physically, emotionally and mentally). For directions, check out their blog post here. Basically, you start by donating, selling, recycling or trashing 1 item on the first day of the month, 2 items on the second day of the month, 3 on the third, and so on and so forth, and try to see how far into the month you can make it! I'm guessing by day 15 or 20 this is going to be incredibly hard! I'm going to keep a running tab of my efforts and perhaps share them periodically on here or Instagram. Anyone else up for the challenge?!
There's so much about the Minimalist movement that speaks to me, even if I'm not sure I would ever/could ever see myself becoming that extreme. I've shared fantasies on here of 'getting away from it all' for awhile, and recently really been feeling the urge to disconnect from social media and all the influences that come from it. I think it'd be much easier to be minimalist in a remote location like the PCT, or the Great Sky Country of Montana (where the authors live), than in a big city, but devotees of minimalism live everywhere, in cities across America. If anything, my exploration into this world has just reinforced what I've been trying to do this past year, in stripping down my old pacifiers to determine what I really want out of life and seeing that I definitely can make do with less.
"Love people and use things, because the opposite never works." ~ Joshua Fields Millburn
Have you ever heard of Minimalism?
Are you as star struck meeting authors in real life as I am?