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At age 30, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus left their six-figure corporate careers, jettisoned most of their material possessions, and started focusing on life's most important aspects. And they never looked back.
This book's foreword and first chapter examine Joshua and Ryan's backgrounds, their troubled pasts, and their eventual spiral into depression. These chapters discuss why the authors didn't feel fulfilled by their careers and why they turned to society's idea of living: working ridiculous hours, wastefully spending money, living paycheck to paycheck. Instead of finding their passions, they pacified themselves with ephemeral indulgences, inducing a cocaine-like high that didn't last far past the checkout line.
And then, after a set of life-changing events, they discovered minimalism, which allowed Joshua and Ryan to eliminate life's excess and focus on the essential things in life.
The subsequent chapters explore their journey into a lifestyle known as minimalism and discusse why these two successful businessmen eschewed their excess stuff in favor of focusing on life's the more important aspects: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution.
The authors discuss how minimalism allowed them to focus on each area, citing personal examples of how they changed everything in their lives over a two year span, during which time they left their corporate jobs, got out of debt, changed their diets, started exercising regularly, strengthened their core relationships, established exciting new relationships, began pursuing their passions, contributed to more people, and found ways to be content and happy with their lives.
The final chapter, Confluence of Meaning, binds together these five dimensions and asks the reader important questions about his or her life.
This book's content is different from the content at TheMinimalist.com. While the authors' website documents their journey into minimalism and their continued growth through experimentation, this book discusses minimalism in a different way: it discusses in great depth the five dimensions of living a meaningful life. It also gives the reader much more insight into the authors' personal lives, into the painful events that led them to journey into minimalism, and into their world outside the web.
"This is the minimalism book everyone's been waiting for."
- Intrepid Radio
"An excellent new book."
- Leo Babauta, Zen Habits
About the Author
THE MINIMALISTS, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, write essays about living a meaningful life with less stuff for their online audience of more than 100,000 monthly readers at TheMinimalists.com. They have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, CBS This Morning, NBC, FOX, NPR, CBC Radio, Zen Habits, and numerous other outlets.
Firstly, let me start by saying that I only subscribe to four blogs, and the blog by these authors (The Minimalists) is one of them. At a time when so many people are being hit with so many things that look like they need to be done, the authors are really good at using minimalist principles to focus on what is important.
That's what they do in their blog. That's not what I found in this book. Apart from the occasional sentence mentioning that minimalism helps you focus on the important things, the rest of the book contains:
- Details on the authors' story of how they became minimalist and left their jobs. Only a small amount of added information compared to their blog, but I did enjoy that part. - A chapter on the importance of eating unprocessed foods and doing exercise. No information that was new to me. - A chapter on the importance of prioritizing the more important relationships in your life and working to eliminate relationships with negative impact. No real concrete directions other than to create a list of all the people in your life and catalog how close they are to you and whether their impact on your life is positive, negative, or neutral, then prioritize your use of time accordingly. Several pages about things like love and trust being important in relationships. - A chapter on the importance of finding your passion, having a mission in life rather than just doing a job. One really good paragraph about the idea that if you don't know what your passions are then you still have anchors, things that are dragging you down (like stress from debt for example). - Chapters on the importance of growing as a person and contributing, but again no real advice other than to get doing that stuff.
The problem I have with all this is that I already know these things, and I would imagine most people do. The biggest gain I have had from reading the authors' blog is how to attack the clutter that gets in the way of me executing on these, and unfortunately this is not what this book was about. The authors do make attempts to talk about how to get the emotional energy to achieve the important things, for example they talk a little bit in this book about how you need to go from an attitude of "should" to an attitude of "must", but that totally leaves unaddressed the fact that the stuff that's cluttering up our time and resources somehow got itself into the "must" category when it shouldn't have, and now what? How to actually wade through it to reverse this take-over? (Again, please note that I think their blog does speak to that).
If you have the same problem as me, namely clutter (whether it be stuff, commitments, whatever), and want ways to help untangle yourself from it to actually make space for the "real stuff" you want to do, and already know that real stuff to be important, then I wouldn't read this book. Instead I have found the following very helpful.
- The blog by these authors. - Leo Babauta's "The Power of Less", especially the sections where he goes through his ideas on forcing prioritizing to happen by limiting time spent on an activity, and how to start small on a change of habit.Read more ›
I've been a reader of the minimalists.com for a while now and I've drank the koolaid. After just about a week of combing through blog entries and many long walks- I decided to go for it. I mean what did I have to loose... except everything. So I donated and re-gifted about 80% of my material things. It felt amazing and today I'm still on a quest to live with less and live more simply. What I haven't mentioned is that I was living at home at the time I decided to radically change my way of consumption (I was an RN right out of college, preparing to move out). At first, my parents didn't get it. I think they even laughed one time and called it 'spring cleaning'. But as I got rid of more and more they became concerned. They didn't get it. And it was hard for me to explain to them why exactly I was doing it. Why it felt so freeing. Things became more troublesome when I did move out. Here was this nice open apartment, 'a space that would look great decorated' per my mother. If you don't see the problem yet, I'll spell it out. I didn't want more stuff. Let alone her decorating expertise (Ahh! I hope you never read this mom). Life went on as always, and while we were still the same family, it was hard to talk to them about the important things because we no longer saw eye-to-eye. That's where this book came in. We have a family get together at least once a year and this year we decided that New Hampshire was the place to be. It was a long drive, and so after we lost all of the recognizable home radio stations, the car went silent. Mom was bored and dad was driving, so I took out this book and began reading it out loud. Most of the stuff, as many have mentioned below, is old news to those who read the blog religiously. My parents on the other hand, two people completely new to this 'strange minimalism thing', had such strong reactions. I found so much joy in being able to read something to them that explained why I was doing what I was doing. It started conversations, and on the trip home my parents actually encouraged me to finish the book aloud for them. I would strongly recommend this book to anyone who is looking to made a radical change in their life for the better. It's not for everyone, but I love it and now so does my family.Read more ›
You don't have to settle for a mediocre life. At one time Ryan and Josh were facing the daily grind, moving their way up the corporate ladder and working for the weekend. But when the slow burn of discontent became too intense to ignore they took action. They knew that they should change their lives but unlike most people they actually made it a priority.
Enter Minimalism. It's right there in the title. But don't pick up this book expecting a step by step guide on how to become a minimalist (their website can help with that: themins.com). Instead this book is about living a meaningful life. More specifically how to build a meaningful life through your health, relationships, passions, growth and contribution.
One of my favorite elements of Josh and Ryan's writing is how genuine they are. In this book they really allowed themselves to dig deeper. They teach what has made them happy. They teach how they were able to rid themselves of discontent and live a more meaningful life.
I can't thank Ryan and Josh enough for their writing over the past couple of months. When I first started my minimalist journey they were the torches that guided me out of the darkness of materialism. This book shows the growth of their writing and how they plan to continue their journey towards living a more meaningful life. And they aren't going at it alone.
Very disappointed. Have been a big fan of the essays on the minimalist website, and hoped to find a similar level of expansion in the novel. But it has been the opposite. Mostly a rehash of any cookie cutter self help book out there, they skim over major topics with half a mumbled page, providing very little of real content, worth, or value. As a whole, it's akin to a junior high school term paper, without the factual research and detail one would expect of an eighth grader. Do not waste your money on this book. You'll find so much more worth, and content, and enlightenment, not to mention some actual content on minimalism (which, for a book entitled "minimalism", shouldn't be too much to expect) on the guys minimalism website. This book is a waste of time.