SHELF LIFE: The Minimalists explore simplicity as lifestyle

2012-12-09T00:00:00Z SHELF LIFE: The Minimalists explore simplicity as lifestyleJane Ammeson Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
December 09, 2012 12:00 am  • 

There’s an old joke about how a millionaire on vacation in Mexico tries to convince a fisherman that he should start a business selling his fish, work 60 to 70 hours a week running it, make tons of money and then he can do anything in the world he wants.

The fisherman says, "What would I do then?"

The businessman replies, "Well, then you can be like me and sit on a beautiful beach like this and fish."

The punch line is, of course, that the fisherman is already living that life.

Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus were two young corporate types approaching 30 with six figure jobs and schedules that meant little time for anything but work and sleep. They lived in multi-bedroom houses with closets filled full of expensive stuff, much of it hardly ever used, drove expensive cars as well as an ongoing sense of ennui.

“What’s worse, we found out we didn’t have control of our time and thus didn’t control our own lives,” the two write on The Minimalists, the website they started as part of their plan to use the principles of minimalism to take charge of their lives. By focusing on what’s important, instead of all the superfluous extras, they theorized they would be able to live meaningful lives.

They sum up their theory of minimalism as "a tool used to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important so you can find happiness, fulfillment and freedom.”

The paean to living life bare (the two now live in a cabin in Montana) struck a chord with many. The Minimalists gets more than 100,000 monthly readers. Millburn and Nicodemus’s approach to living with much less has lead to appearances on NBC, FOX, NPR, CBC Radio and CBS, and stories in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Zen Habits. Their book "Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life" debuted on Amazon as #1.

They also offer mentoring for those wanting to downscale and also are available for speaking engagements. Their essays, available online, have ideas for going minimalist by getting rid of a variety of items including those that are sentimental as well as “just in case" items. Other essays address issues such as “Organizing Is Often Well-Planned Hoarding” and “Collecting is Dangerous.”

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