R4 -Minimalism - Documentary
How might your life be better with less?
Minimalism, a word that makes a frequent comeback in several texts of mine. Yes, it is crystal clear I’ve taken a liking to this concept, phrase. You know, I came up with the term before being aware of it’s public etymology. I had no idea such a concept was actually viral.
I began decluttering my life in 2013 and have been doing so ever since. It’s been five years now, five years of rich experiences and life-changing epiphanies. Those have been the most influential years for me, as I keep telling people.
I started talking about ”minimizing” and getting rid of the things I don’t need, week at a time. I named this new thing ”minimalism” because it felt so fitting. Later I found out I wasn’t the first one to do that.
www.theminimalists.com is a website hosted by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, an ex-corporate duo with large paychecks and the “American dream”. In 2011 they walked out of the corporate world to live a more deliberate life and contribute to the world. They gave up their capitalist wealth and high position in order to make a change for the better.
Recently I’ve been largely invested in The Minimalists Podcast and heard mentioning about this upcoming documentary movie many times. Mind you, those episodes were back in 2016 as I just began listening them. I decided to dust off my Netflix and check out the documentary.
Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things, as title implies, displays a thought-provoking presentation in a non-fiction frame. A documentary, in other words. It features the story of Joshua and Ryan, their transformation alongside discovering minimalism, their 10 month book tour across the United States and interviewing different people about their approach on minimalism. The cast includes some public figures, such as:
-Dan Harris: A former ABC News journalist. Author of “10% Happier”. Dan was reporting about the conflicts of Afganistan and Iraq, which led to depression and having a panic-attack on live television. He found salvation through meditation.
-Juliet Schor: Professor of sociology at Boston College. Juliet has studied consumerism, relationship between work and family, women's issues and economic inequality.
-Leo Babauta: Author of “Zen Habits”. Leo is a husband and a father of six kids. Despite being 'stuck' in a huge household, he has achieved mindfulness and minimalism.
-Tammy Strobel: Author of “You Can Buy Happiness (And it’s Cheap)”. After Tammy discovered she was miserable, she and her husband minimized and moved to a tiny house the size of a cargo container.
-Colin Wright: Entrepreneur, full-time traveler. Colin got rid of everything but the 51 things he carries in his two bags. As of writing, he's been technically homeless and traversed the world for six years.
-Joshua Becker: Author of “Clutterfree with Kids”. Joshua is a father of a family of four. Each family member handles minimalism on their own level, but they've made it work.
-Sam Harris: Neuroscientist. Author of “Waking Up”. Sam is a philosopher, blogger, public intellectual and a podcast host. His work concerns a wide range of topics.
And many more..
Although I’ve never heard of these people, their stories aren't any less interesting. Minimalism takes many forms. There is no recipe for happiness but a bunch of ingredients to try. What works for you might not suit others. Principle is still the same. Some people settle on smaller homes, others move into tiny cabins. Some people declutter more than others but remain equally satisfied. Some people give up most of their belongings and become “homeless” to travel the world.
Some minimalists can’t afford to get rid of their things, either by obligations or personal desires/needs. Some people have children, some people have equipment required for work or cultivating passions. Some people love collecting figures of angels, some people desire for that perfect vinyl collection. There is no “true minimalism”, just as there is no identical situations.
Point is, we’re all different.
“As a minimalist, every possession serves a purpose or brings me joy. I don't have any excess stuff. Everything that I look around at, I have to go and justify to myself, not to anyone else, but justify to myself, does this add value to my life? And if not, I have to be willing to let go.” -Joshua Millburn
“We are too materialistic in the everyday sense of the word. And we are not at all materialistic enough in the true sense of the word. We need to be true materialists, like really care about the materiality of goods. Instead we're in a world in which material goods are so important for their symbolic meaning, what they do to position us in the status system based on what advertising or marketing says they're about.” -Juliet Schor
“The whole point of this message, the whole point of us sharing this story, is to help people curb that appetite for more things, because it's such a destructive path to go down. I literally have used people to sell cell phones. I've used people to get bigger and better clients. And what I love about my life now, I can be genuine. And that there is no manipulation.” -Ryan Nicodemus
One pro and con.
We all know about Black Friday, right? People stacking together into a huge mass to acquire as much material possessions as they can. I mean, I have nothing to buy but hey, it’s dirt-cheap! In the beginning of the documentary, there’s a series of controversial Black Friday footage with no narration. No narration but a heavy message.
You’re watching a documentary about decluttering and realizing the important things and there’s a video clip of two people beating each other up over a sale product. This was a really effective way to bring the message without commenting upon it right off the bat. Good job.
If there was something unraveled, that would have to be international minimalism. All of the people included are from the United States of America. I would’ve been extremely interested to find out how much differently people approach minimalism in other cultures. Either that didn’t cross their minds or it would’ve been too much trouble for production.
I’m a very emotional guy. I’ve got no reason to hide the fact but often lack the courage to express it. This documentary had me nearly in tears in the end. Unsurprisingly, the documentary hit me deep. Perhaps ”hit” is an improper verb, for I have long realized the problem and discovered a solution. Let's rephrase. This documentary resonated with me. It aligned with my views so well my spirits were lifted in an emotional manner.
Now, I’ve been greatly influenced by this duo’s message. I’m jealous of their lives and status. Not for who they were, but who they’ve become. I don’t envy rich and famous people for their money or estate, but their potential. Potential to spread a word for the good cause. Potential to make a change. No matter who you are or how wondrous your intentions are, if you lack the audience, there’s very little you can achieve. More importantly, you’re guaranteed to fail if you won’t try.
Making use of Joshua and Ryan’s teachings, I have my own essay to share on minimalism. It goes like this:
Minimalism is one of the greatest things I’ve discovered over the course of my life. It is a tool towards a simpler, more fulfilling life. Minimalism is not about throwing/giving things away, it’s about learning to live more with less. It is not a goal, but rather a lifestyle.
In the eyes of a ”true minimalist”, I do not show signs of improvement with my, although shrinking, set of sentimental items and my questionable video game collection. That is not the point. Why get rid of the things that you’re passionate about? Minimalism is not about deprivation, you’d miss the big picture. You got to ask yourself what you want to achieve. Of course, it takes courage and willingness to rid yourself of the things you’ve been holding onto. That doesn’t mean you have to suffer as a consequence. It takes a long time (going five years myself) and differs with each individual. Something you might not need might be essential, or at least valuable to others.
Practice this lifestyle ecologically and sell or donate. If the item is something an other person might find useful, don’t throw it in the trash. Buy things used, that will save you money and prove lighter for the environment. After all, we’re slowly but surely, drowning in trash.
I thank you, minimalists, for sharing this great piece of unbiased film production. For reminding everyone about the problems of the world and helping me prioritize what’s really important and guiding towards a more fulfilling life. Theoretically, all we have is time. It’s just up to us to decide how to spend it.
”If you leave here with just one message, we hope it’s this: Love people and use things, because the opposite never works.” -The Minimalists
October 4th, 2018