I recently watched a documentary on Netflix titled “Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things”. Essentially, two men (Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus) set out on a journey to help individuals find  a more meaningful, valuable life by living with less.

Joshua and Ryan are both minimal extremists, who tend to live with 100 or fewer items. Limit the amount of clothing they have, electronics, accessories, you name it. They have limited their personal consumption of material goods, to enable them to assign deeper and deliberate meaning to the things that they value in life. They define minimalism as:

“… A tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.”

This started to stand out to me. Don’t get me wrong. I love things! We all do, this contemporary market we live in that’s flooded with marketing and advertising wizards looking to be the next Don Draper has blindly converted us all into consumption connoisseurs.

I’ll be the first to admit it. Bring me to any House of Hoops outlet, and I’m half tempted to max out my credit card. I mean, we all love having nice things, spending, and looking for that next bargain.

So I’m not here to tell any of you to get rid of all your possessions, material goods don’t provide any value, and to wear the same outfit every day like you’re a character portrayed from The Simpsons. Heck, if I did that I would contradict with my previous posts where I tell you to work hard, envision your goals, and retrieve all the luxury you desire.

Fortunately, there is a lot of value I took from Joshua and Ryan’s mission to spread minimalism. So we don’t need to be Peter Griffin with the same white shirt and green jeans every day, but perhaps Joshua and Ryan are onto something. Can less, in fact, be more? Well it’s quite possible, and here’s why.

Invest wisely

Can we be minimalists and still consume several consumer goods? I believe so, yes. But we need to limit the consumption of other tangible items that we don’t value.

So if collecting comics is your thing, or you value having a large book collection, or you’re a Nike extremist like myself, it’s okay. If you get value out of that particular consumption, and it makes you happy, then continue to invest. Don’t get carried away and empty your bank account; just consume wisely.

The issue, however, is that many of us are hypnotized and persuaded into personal consumption for items we truly don’t value. We buy things because of the image it presents to others, because the social value it provides us, and because you want to rock that nice Hugo Boss suit like Ryan Gosling does in Crazy, Stupid, Love.

If these items are not providing you value, and only serves to provide value to others, get rid of it. Like I said, I’m the first to admit I may have one too many “Just Do It” T-shirts, but I get value out of wearing it. I don’t have a nice Gucci belt, an expensive suit, or a Rolex watch.

Over consuming in goods you don’t value won’t provide you with more happiness, but only clutter your own personal space with unwanted items that limit your freedom.

So consume wisely, and invest in items that bring you value. Elimination of particular items we don’t value will assist in providing more space, time, effort, and money to invest in the things we do.

For more on eliminating things that are in the way of your goals, check out “2017 – Just Do It”.

Money and tangible goods are not the answer

The American Dream has been put on steroids. It’s no longer enough to have a nice house, with a white picket fence, and a nice Ford pickup sitting in your driveway. It seems a social obligation now to have not only a house and car, but an iPhone with a fancy iPhone case, pair of Jordan’s, fancy jewelry, expensive tattoos, the latest 4K television, surround speakers to go with it, and on and on. It continues to extend to the things we’re “supposed” to have.

Are all these material processions going to make you happy? Is all the money, in the world going to make you happy? Well, I guess it would definitely make it easier, but that’s not that the point!!

Some of my best weekends have been spent camping in Algonquin or sitting at the cottage with nothing but good company and maybe a few games of beer pong. I didn’t need an expensive weekend at the Ritz, bottles of Dom Perignon, and a nice limo that would escort us in our tuxedos to that expensive bar.

Material or luxurious goods will not define your happiness. Value things in your life that are authentic. Friendship, family, love, travelling, and living a life that is full of purpose. Yes, material goods and consumption can help enhance our experiences, but it’s definitely not the answer.

The issue is our obsession with consumption leads us into a wild-goose chase.

There is a reason why people have a two-car, and then a three-car, garage. Once we attain the luxury we desire, our brains demand more. Those modern-day Don Draper’s out there know that too. There is a reason why Apple releases an iPhone 6 and then an iPhone 6S. Or why Nike releases not only the KD 8 and KD 9, but a KD 9 “All-Star” and KD 9 “BHM”.

Consumption is a never-ending battle, there is always going to be the next best thing that makes your current possessions inferior.

So let’s understand from a minimalist approach that money and luxury is not the answer. The more we consume does not define our happiness. There is a bunch of rich and famous people out there who have more than they can dream of, and are depressed.

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Financial freedom

Times are tough. Cost of living, it’s not pretty. The housing market is dangerously high, making it difficult for all of us. Issue is, however, we complain about these costs but we contribute to the cause as we spend endless amounts of income on products we don’t really need (guilty as charged!).

Taking a minimalist approach can definitely help promote savings and limit our financial burdens.

It’s simple, the less we spend, the more money we have. Eliminate unnecessary or invaluable consumptions to help us reduce our payments, save for the future, invest to build passive income, and ultimately reduce financial stress.

Simplify and create freedom

Minimalism is simply an effective way to make life easier. I know this contradicts with some earlier posts, in regards to keeping busy and doing more. But it also corresponds with our theory to eliminate the unnecessary constraints in our lives.

Find out what you value, what you need, what you want to do, and work towards achieving them. The more clustered our life gets the more confused, stressed, and unhappy we can become.

Life can be easy, if like minimalist’s we just simplify it. It’s not necessary to add all these extra problems in our lives. The more we consume, the less space, freedom, and financial resources we have. The more we try to satisfy others, the less we satisfy ourselves.

We invest so much on adapting multiple personalities and extra responsibilities that we get lost with who we are and what’s truly important. Everyone tries to represent themselves as academics, gym enthusiasts, sports advocates, travel bugs, bar hoppers, you name it, and it becomes overwhelming.

We work so hard to satisfy all these demands and accumulate these unnecessary material goods that we end up sacrificing what’s important. That is spending time with family and friends, working towards our passions, and travelling more.

There is no need to complicate our lives by adding more. Sometimes the key is to simplify. Sometimes, simply put, less is more.

Check out Josh and Ryan’s site at www.TheMinimalists.com and their book called “Minimalism: Live A Meaningful Life”.

– Daniel

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