Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things (2015) Movie Script

So much of our life is
lived in a fog of automatic
habitual behavior.
We spend so much time on the hunt.
But nothing ever quite does it for us.
And we get so wrapped up in the hunt
that it kind of makes us miserable.
And I had everything I ever wanted.
I had everything I
was supposed to have.
Everyone around me said:
"You're successful."
But really, I was miserable.
There was this ...
... void in my life.
So... I tried to fill that void
the same way many people do:
with stuff... lots of stuff.
I was filling the void
with consumer purchases.
I was spending money faster
than I was earning it,
attempting to buy
my way to happiness.
I thought I'd get there one day.
Eventually, I mean,
happiness had to be
somewhere, just
around the corner.
I was living paycheck to paycheck,
living for a paycheck,
living for stuff.
But I wasn't living at all.
At a time when people in the West
are experiencing the best
standard of living in history,
why, is it at the same time...
[Rick Hanson, PhD in Neurophysiologist]
there is such a longing for more?
[Rick Hanson, PhD in Neurophysiologist]
I think of that as a kind of
biologically based delusional craving.
That autocraving is a good
strategy to keep animals alive,
including early human animals,
in really harsh conditions.
But these days today,
it creates a disconnect.
You're like a puppet, whose strings
should be pulled by Mother
Nature and evolution,
reaching back tens
of millions of years.
We still feel restless.
We still are always scratching
and calling for more.
It's why lottery winners are miserable.
It's why homeowners
have three car garages.
The first car generates an exponential...
[Jesse Jacobs, Entrepreneur]
awesome rush of happiness, joy and utility.
[Jesse Jacobs, Entrepreneur]
The second car comes about
because we tire of the first car.
And, as humans, we're wired
to become dissatisfied.
It's an addiction, really.
And we are encouraged to
maintain the addiction
through technology and information.
American culture has ...
[Shannon Whitehead, Sustainable-Apparel]
for the most part, these blinders on.
[Shannon Whitehead, Sustainable-Apparel]
There is definitely this illusion
of what our lives should look like.
Whether it's advertising,
or your Instagram,
or Facebook feed, it's this illusion
that our lives should be perfect.
It's natural to use
other people's lives,
and even imaginary lives, you know ...
[Sam Harris, PhD, Neuroscientist]
the confections we see in
[Sam Harris, PhD, Neuroscientist]
advertisements, as a yardstick.
You open Vanity Fair
or Esquire and you see
very sexy and glamorous lives.
And then the projects for
most people seem to become:
"How can I get that or close
to that as I'm going to get?"
There can be an immense
amount of dissatisfaction
for trying to live that way.
And many of us see no
alternative to live that way.
Advertising has polluted...
[Juliet Schor, PhD, Economist]
...and infiltrated culture.
[Juliet Schor, PhD, Economist]
It's in our movies.
It's in our television shows.
It's in our books.
It's in our doctors' offices.
It's in the taxicabs.
It's in the bar, sitting next
to you, the person who you think
you're just having and idle
chat with could have been
placed there by an
alcohol company.
Hydrate the Hustle
It's been a slow evolution.
This is not something that
just happened yesterday.
This is something that has been sold
to us, I would say, the past 100 years,
slowly but surely, by those that
want to make a lot of money.
Now that's what I call
a good looking car.
They want us to believe that ...
[Patrick Rhone, Author, ENOUGH]
you really need these things.
[Patrick Rhone, Author, ENOUGH]
Every year that passes
has more stimulators,
more pressure,
there's more options,
there's more media,
more noise, noise, noise.
And by streamlining, simplifying and just
[Yarrow Kraner, Director & Photographer]
letting people know
they have the option,
is a wake up call that
is very valuable in
in a very critical time now.
It got to a point in my life
where I don't what was
important any more.
Then, at some point when I
was approaching 30 year old,
I noticed something
different about my best friend
of twenty something years.
Josh, he seemed happy
for the first time
in a really long time,
like truly happy, ecstatic.
But I didn't understand
why, because we had both
worked at the same corporation.
We both wasted our twenties climbing
the corporate ladder together,
and he had been just
as miserable as me.
So I did what any good
best friend would do.
I took him out to a
really nice lunch...
I think we went to the Subway.
And I sat him down
and I asked him a question.
Why the hell are you so happy?
He spends the next 20 minutes telling
me about this thing called minimalism.
Before I discovered minimalism,
I think my life was like
pretty much anyone elses.
I had a lot of stuff.
Hundreds, thousands of
books, DVDs and VHSs,
closets full of expensive clothes.
All these things that I brought
into my life without questioning.
But when I started to let it go,
I started feeling freer and happier
[Joshua Fields Millburn]
and lighter. And now as...
[The Minimilists]
a minimalist, every
possession serves a purpose,
or brings me joy.
I have a bed and a chair, and a radio.
And I have some furniture
in my dining room.
In my kitchen I have appliances.
I don't have any excess stuff.
Everything that I look around
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.
Ryan and I just writing a book
about the last five years of our lives,
It's from being these suit and
tie corporate guys, to minimalists.
And so, now we gonna get on
the road for ten months this year
and promote that book.
But really for all the
message we really believe in.
A simple living message of:
living more deliberately with less.
Oh! I'm gonna need a jacket.
We'll see where the
journey will take us.
So you presented it as a
12 minute talk 8 minute reading.
- Okay.
- Yeah.
Cause I just don't want to feel
rushed in the talk, that's all.
Early into their tour Joshua & Ryan
land a speaking gig at South by Southwest.
They hope it will bring their
story to a larger audience
- Ready?
- I was born ready.
Hello, thanks for coming out.
My name is Ryan Nicodemus and
this is the Joshua Fields Millburn.
And together we run a website
So today, Josh is gonna
read from our new book.
But first let me tell
you a story about how
we become the Minimalists.
We've never been shut out, so as
long as one person shows up...
- That's all that matters.
- I feel really good.
We've had events where you
had two people show up,
and that was amazing,
because we got to spend time
with two people and add value
to their lives in a different way.
- I'm a hugger, man.
- Okay.
Thanks for coming out, man.
Thanks for coming out
and seeing the talk, man.
- For sure. Thank you.
- Our pleasure.
Did you forget your
Kindle and badge in there?
Oh yes. Thank you.
From the day I was born
until the second grade, when
my parents got divorced,
I had like the perfect
quintessential mom and dad.
When my mom left my dad,
she just really went
off the deep end.
By junior high, we had a lot
of people over at the house.
And later I found out they
were in there smoking crack.
They would cook crack.
By the eighth grade, the SWA team was kicking in our door,
busting my mother for selling drugs.
It was a drug that overtook my mother.
Josh had a very similar
childhood to what I do.
My very first memories of my father
extinguishing a cigarette
on my mother's chest.
Shortly after she left my
father, she started drinking.
It was my biggest fear that I was
going to get taken away from her.
When she was sober, she
was a phenomenal mother.
I think she kind of felt trapped.
My mom always complained about money.
She didn't have any money.
I remember being poor growing up.
And I remember thinking
when I graduate high school:
"I want to start on a path that
is going to take me somewhere
other than a struggle. "
Half a mile, turn left
on to San Pedro Drive.
We're currenlty on our way
to NPR for a radio interview.
Well, those are our peeps.
That's our demographics.
You're looking for Rick Daniels.
I think so. Yes.
- You are the Minimalists.
- Yes, we are indeed.
How are you ?
- I'm Scott.
- I'm Ryan. I'm a hugger, man.
Nice to meet you, buddy.
Thanks for having us.
I think my light bulb moment
when I was showing my guys
how to sell cell phones
to a five year old.
I was like, "What am I doing?"
This mentality of getting
a better promotion,
Getting a better house,
getting a better car,
getting a bigger paycheck, being
able to buy more expensive bar tabs.
And, you know, to do that I had to
sell cell phones to five-year-olds.
There's a template out there.
You can call it the American Dream,
or keeping up with the
Joneses, or whatever.
That's just a template.
It's not the template.
And once we realize that,
I think we can create our own
template that works just for us.
The American Dream has a long history
which started out as a concept that
was really more about opportunity.
The US is a land of opportunity
where somebody could start out at
the bottom, work hard and do well.
There is no question that
what it means to have made it,
or have achieved the American
Dream in the United States
has increased tremendously
in material terms.
A hundred thousand dollar
a year plus kind of income
became more and more
an aspirational norm
across the society, because
that's what's portrayed
as normal on TV.
A six-figure income.
Beginning from about the mid 1990s,
Americans went on a buying
spree that was probably
unprecedented in human history.
Average household expenditures
And a lot of it had to do
with the cheapness of products
coming mostly from China.
Whether we're talking
about fashion, electronics,
all types of household goods.
So stuff's cheaper, but
it's also more available.
You can order stuff 24 hours online.
[Graham Hill, Founder, Lifeedited]
And there are big box stores.
[Graham Hill, Founder, Lifeedited]
We end up accumulating
a lot more stuff.
So much so that eventhough you have
about three times the space per person
that we used to have in the
50's, so a lot more space ...
We got so much stuff, we
need space on top of that,
and so there's a 2.2 billion square
foot personal storage industry.
Which is ludicrous.
And so you have people living
in these... enormous homes.
And if you really look at it,
people don't use the
space that they have.
Someone did a study and it
showed a heat map of, like where,
people travelled inside their homes ...
[David Friedlander, Comms Dir, Lifeedited]
over the course of a normal day with
a family of four. And they
rent a very average home.
And what they found is that
people used about, maybe,
maybe forty percent of their space.
Nobody used the dining room.
No one used the living room.
There was a big, you know, porch.
No one used the porch.
You know, I mean, I'm not saying
this is the way everyone lives.
Some people use dining rooms,
but it creates this big vacuum
that you have to fill, so people a
throwing all this crap into their homes,
that they don't need.
We're living our lives
depending on the space we've got
rather than creating our
space to fit our lives.
It's so easy to go
wrong, and you wind up
with three dining tables in the same house.
[Frank Mascia, Architect]
Well, you have to run pretty fast to
eat at three tables at the same meal.
Nothing is more responsible than living
in the smallest space you possibly can.
We've probably sold or donated, let's
say, at least 90 percent of our stuff.
I mean, you can't bring all
your stuff into a tiny house.
I was commuting about two hours a day...
[Tammy Strobel, Author]
and then sitting in a cubicle,
for ten to twelve hours a day.
I had gained a lot of weight.
I was unhappy.
And I was, kind of like,
"What's wrong with me?"
I should be happy.
I've got all these stuff.
A nice home, a great husband.
And Logan was like,
"Well, you know, you could
probably quit your job
if we simplified and moved
into a smaller apartment."
And I was like, "What the
hell are you talking about?"
"I don't want to get rid of my stuff."
I found a YouTube video,
saw the tiny houses,
and I was hooked.
Hi, Earl.
What's up, dude?
I think the biggest thing for
me, at least in the beginning,
was the financial side of things.
When we looked at our
budget and the numbers,
I was like, well,
let's just give it a go.
If I hate a smaller apartment,
we can always upsize."
I think there is this
element of affordability,
simplicity and sustainability
that just makes
tiny houses seem like
the perfect solution
to a problem that we
haven't yet figured out,
which is: how do we go from working...
[Jay Austin, Tiny-House Designer]
all throughout our lifetime
[Jay Austin, Tiny-House Designer]
to enjoying a lifetime with a
bit of work here and there?
For a long time when
people were looking
to buy their first house, they
looked at their budget
and they said: "How much
money do I have to spend?"
"Oh I have $ 500,000
Let me buy whatever $
500,000 can get me."
And the big mistake there
was that these individuals
didn't have $ 500,000.
They had a loan that would
guarantee them that amount.
And, of course, after a few
years of people buying houses
that they weren't actually buying,
they were just hoping
to buy it someday,
the entire housing market collapsed.
We're down 1.7 percent here,
a loss of 37 points or so.
Apple shares are just getting
hammered this morning.
We're down by between three
and four and a half percent
generally across these markets.
Let's talk about the speed
with which we are watching
this market deteriorate.
It was the worse day on Wall
Street's since the crash of 1987.
This could be the most
serious recession in decades.
And that means life, as most
Americans know it, is about to change.
In some cases, dramatically.
I think where that has left us,
in the wake of a recession,
is with a really, really
strong appeal to buy a house outright.
The vision that really
came out of LifeEdited
is just like, "Hey, I think we
got to take a step back here."
We are very much a
mission based company.
The mission being to do more with less.
So the LifeEdited prototype apartment
started with me buying a place
420 square feet in New York
And coming up with a
really aggressive program.
What I was asking for was a lot.
Living home for a couple.
Be able to have a sit
down dinner for 10 or 12.
To be able to have guests
over in a civil manner.
And be able to work at home
with some sort of standing desk.
Very quickly, I realized that
small place made so much sense
environmentally, but also made
sense from many other levels.
One of the things that we really
want to do is design homes
around A, how people live,
and B, what's truly important.
Creating more social homes,
you know, homes that actually
bring people closer together.
It was kind of an
incredible experience,
could going from a
1200 square foot space,
I had never felt more calm in my life.
[Jacqueline Schmidt, Illustrator, Designer]
There is less stuff to think about.
Our overhead was lower.
This is when I first started to say:
"You know, this LifeEdited
thing,this philosophy,
maybe there's something to it. "
A beautiful future for us
would be to do development
that does really well financially,
has a much lower footprint,
and have lots of developers
copy what we're doing.
And so that it really spreads and we
start to change how we live as Americans
and just change this desire for
bigger is better philosophy.
I think we've only begun to re-examine what it
means to be successful in life.
That's it no longer that white fence,
it's no longer that McMansion.
I think that people are beginning
to recognise that they've
maybe been tricked,
and that they maybe have
more agency over their options
than they once thought they did.
We're out sharing a recipe.
You know, we're not out
here trying to proselytize.
We're not trying to convert
anyone to minimalism.
But I do want to share a recipe and see
if there are ingredients that
other people get value from,
and apply those ingredients
to their own lives.
There is this underlying discontent,
and I think that it starts
to manifest in our stuff.
And what I'm finding as
we go out on the road,
and when we talked to so many people.
Everyone is looking for
more meaning in their lives.
We're at the Tucson Book Festival.
We're getting ready to
go, sign some books ...
and then, a little bit
later, we'll do our speech.
Man, look at all these people waiting
to get their books signed by us.
Let's sit on the outside.
This just doesn't feel like us.
If one person comes,
then we will go out to
the front and stand there.
- What's up man?
- I love your stuff.
Oh thanks. I'm a hugger, brother.
I'm going to give you a hug.
Yeah, I follow you guys on Facebook
and you got your talk this afternoon.
What time is it at?
We're at 7:00 o'clock.
Imagine a life with less.
Less stuff, less clutter, less stress,
and debt and discontent.
A life with fewer distractions.
Now imagine a life with more.
More time, more
meaningful relationships,
more growth, and
contribution and contentment.
So it's funny because people
will inevitably come on to us
and will be llike: "No, I'm
not a minimalist like you."
I've got this book
collection and I love books.
And I've got nice big library and
I love the way the book smell.
I love turning the pages.
I love how they feel.
I love lending them out to my friends.
And then we talk about the book later.
And I'm like, "Hey, keep your books."
"Sounds like you get a lot of value out of your books."
And that's what I would say
with any type of collection.
If you get a book or
whatever, that's great.
Make sure you minimize it afterwards.
But I'd love to get a hug
from you as well, you know.
We're big time huggers.
They're free and transferable.
Make sure you got
one from us afterwards.
I was 27 years old.
I was a director of operations
for 150 retail stores.
It was December 23, 2008,
I got a phone call from my mom.
I sent it to voicemail
because I was at a meeting.
At 7:00 pm, going through
this barrage of e-mails,
and I realize I've had
several voicemails.
One was from my mom and...
she had been sober for a while,
but I could tell in the
message she had been drinking.
On her voicemail,
She said, "Honey, it's me."
Can you call me back?
She told me the doctors
have found something.
And she found out she had
stage four lung cancer.
She went through
chemo and radiation,
but in stage four, you
usually don't get out of that.
I got to the hospital.
My mom was still on the bed.
It was the first time I
cried in my adult life.
Sobbed uncontrollably.
I kept saying I was sorry.
I did not even know why
at the time I was saying it.
It was just, I suppose, the
only thing that I could say.
I really wished that I would
have spent more time with her.
My mother's death still
hangs in the air around me.
And now, during the same month,
my six-year marriage in ending.
But even while Rome is burning,
there somehow time
for shopping at IKEA.
See? When I moved out of
the house earlier in the week,
toting my many personal
belongings in large bins and boxes
and 50 gallons garbage
bags, my first inclination
was, of course, to
purchase the things I still
needed for my new place.
You know, just the basics.
A shower curtain, towels, a bed, and,
I need a couch and a
matching leather chair,
and a loveseat, and a lamp,
and a desk, and a desk chair,
and another lamp for over there.
And yeah, don't forget
about the sideboard
that matches the desk and
a dresser for the bedroom.
And I need a coffee table
and a couple of end tables,
and a TV stand for
the TV I still need to buy.
And now that I think about it,
I'm going to want my apartment
to be my style, you know,
my own motif.
So I need certain decoratives
to spruce up the decor.
But wait, what exactly is my style?
And do these stainless steel frames
embody that particular style?
Does this replica Matisse
sketch accurately capture
my edgy but professional vibe?
Exactly how edgy am I?
What espresso maker
defines me as a man?
But the fact that I'm asking
these questions preclude me
from being a "man's man"?
How many plates, and cups,
and bowls should a man own?
I guess I need a dining
room table too, right?
And a rug for the entryway, and bath mat
and what about that
one thing, that thing
that sort of like a rug, but longer?
Yeah, a runner.
I'm gonna need one of those.
And I'm also going to need ...
Oh hell, what else do I need?
My name is Sam Harris.
I am an author and a neuroscientist.
And I'm interested in how
our growing understanding
of ourselves scientifically,
can and must and really
should change our conception
of what it means to live a good life.
Gratifying desires in a
starkly materialistic way
is really an interesting phenomenon.
You have this thing that
you were obsessed about.
But then the new version comes out,
which is new and
improved in a dozen ways.
When it comes to the newest, hottest,
most crave worthy status symbols,
you can bet customers will
wait long hours to snag one.
And now you no longer care
about the one you have.
In fact, the one you have is
a source of dissatisfaction.
I think we are confused about
what's gonna make us happy.
Many people think that
material possessions are really
the center of the bullseye,
and they expect that you
gratifying each desire as it arises
will somehow summate
into a satisfying life.
School of Social Work
It is clear that, as human beings ...
Gail Steketee, Compulsive-Hoarding Expert
... we have strong attachment, initially
Gail Steketee, Compulsive-Hoarding Expert
in our lives to people
who are caring for us.
And sometimes it feels like
those attachment spill over
to objects, as if they were
as important as people.
I'm not so sure that we have such
a great relationship with things.
Give me... Give me that box!
Get off of me!
Why are you being so aggressive?
You're scaring me!
I was talking to author and
sociologist Juliet Schor.
And I said: The problem with our society...
[Colin Beavan, Author, No Impact Man]
is that we're too materialistic.
[Colin Beavan, Author, No Impact Man]
And she said actually if you
think about it in some ways,
we're not material enough.
We are too materialistic in
the everyday sense of the word.
And we are not all materialistic enough
in the true sense of the word.
We need to be true materialists,
like we really care about
the materiality of goods.
Instead, we are in a world
in which material goods are
so important for their
symbolic meanings,
What they do to position
us in the status system,
based on what advertising or
marketing says they're about.
The status quo in the fashion industry
right now is... driven by fast fashion.
Maybe when our moms
were shopping for clothes
or our grandmothers, there
were four seasons a year.
Or maybe even two seasons.
You're dressed for cold or
you're dressed for warmth.
Now we work in a cycle
of 52 seasons per year.
They want you to feel
like you're out of trend
after one week so that you'll buy
something new the following week.
There have actually been accounts
of big fashion retailers
baling all of the clothes
from one week together,
slashing through them with scissors,
destroying them, and leaving
them on the side of the roads
so that nobody can resell
them or even wear them.
They want consumers to buy as
much clothing as quickly as possible.
The era of fast fashion,
in which we are making
clothes in sweatshops
so we're not paying the true labor cost
and we're not paying
the ecological cost
of these things, drove
the price of apparel down
so far that used apparel
became worthless.
I'd like to think rice and beans
cost more than used apparel.
In historical terms, that's
the world upside down.
And that represents the economics
of such an extreme and
profound unsustainability.
For a scholar of these things, it's
kind of breathtaking and horrifying.
Fast fashion is what's
happened to apparel
and then increasingly to the
home consumer goods sector.
Almost everything in the home now
would become an
object of fashionability,
and that's been a
dramatic transformation.
If you think about the
concept of fashion,
it embodies in it the idea that you can
throw things away not when
they're no longer usable,
but when they no longer
have that social value
or they're no longer fashionable.
I think people buy because they are ...
[Leo Babauta, Author, Zen Habits]
trying to fulfill this
void inside of them.
I know that because that was me.
But no matter how much stuff we buy,
and how many
different fads that we try,
we don't become a more whole person.
We keep looking.
This hunger never gets fulfilled.
I think it goes to the bottom one fact
that you can never get enough
of what you don't really want.
In other words, deep
down, we don't really
want more goodies,
more toys, more cars.
We want what they will bring us.
We want to feel whole.
We want to feel content.
This mindless consumption,
this same thing
that's not making us
happy, is also causing
the degradation of our habitat.
We can afford to have 350 parts
per million of carbon dioxide
in the atmosphere.
We're closing in on
400 parts per million.
This is caused by the burning
of oil, of natural gas, of coal.
Of all the fuels that we use
to power our consumer economy,
to power the making of
craft that we don't need.
This is real, and we really
have to do something about it.
We are not knowing to ever be
able to achieve the environmental gains
that we're seeking, while still
expecting our lives to be the same.
We don't have to give up a lot.
The secret is that a lot of that
we're not actually going to miss.
It has been like four plus years
that I've been
technically been homeless,
so I go to new countries
and rent flats.
So it's maybe in between homes
or maybe home full.
I just have a lot of homes,
just not in one place,
not for very long.
It's always interesting.
You go on a date or something
and have to explain:
"Oh yes, I'm homeless."
Maybe I shouldn't leave with that.
When I first started reducing
the number of things in my life,
and started getting rid
of essentially everything
that did not fit in these bags,
so I went and took photos of everything...
[Colin Wright, Entrepreneur, Taveler]
that I owned in the world and counted.
[Colin Wright, Entrepreneur, Taveler]
And as a result, I found out that I
had 51 things in the entire world.
I started living this
way about four years ago.
I was running a branding studio.
I had always wanted
to travel the world,
and I had never left the country.
And that was kind of a sign
of my failure in a lot of ways.
So I started a blog, left my
career behind in Los Angeles,
and started looking for something new,
Something a little bit different, and
something a little bit more in line
with what I wanted out of life.
And now I carry everything
that I own on my back,
much like a hermit crab or a turtle.
I was able to get rid of everything
that I owned, that didn't
fit into a carry-on luggage,
which was an immense
decision and not something
that I expected from the get-go.
I realized very quickly
I wouldn't need as much.
And it came to the conclusion
that anything I left behind
would probably be left behind forever.
What did it at the end of the day,
knowing this path had been well tread,
the direction I was going, and these
very very successful men and women
with all of this money
and all this prestige,
and all this professional
background behind them,
they weren't happy.
They're very successful,
but not in an absolute sense.
They're dollars and cents successful.
It seemed far much more likely
that I could find something,
find a definition of success
that would actually get me
to a place where I was both
successful and just incredibly happy.
It does look like money can
buy happiness in some sense.
In global research,
below US$70,000 a year,
adding greater material well-being
is linked to greater
psychological well-being.
But when you start pushing
past that rough threshold,
money doesn't buy happiness.
You can have more money,
but you're not happier.
Jim Carrey has a quote where he says:
"I wish everyone can
become rich and famous,
so they could realize
it's not the answer."
The first response is always this.
"Well, it's easy for Jim Carrey to say,
he's rich and famous, right?"
Joshua Becker, Author, Clutterfree With Kids
And I'm like, "Wait a minute...
Joshua Becker, Author, Clutterfree With Kids
who else could say that?"
It would take someone rich
and famous to be able to say:
"It's not worth it."
We all need to have
our basic needs met.
Having a house, food on the table...
[Tammy Strobel, Author]
you know, being safe.
[Tammy Strobel, Author]
That's really important to recognize,
cos not everyone has these things.
You think that more money...
[Patrick Rhone, Author, Enough]
is going to, say, give you more security.
[Patrick Rhone, Author, Enough]
The problem is, is that
you don't necessarily
have control over making more.
One thing you do have
control over is spending less.
What you do have
control over is having less.
And that by having
less, you automatically
stretch what you do have.
It's not so much about
a financial gain for me...
as it is about financial
freedom, which is the ability
to wake up in the morning and
spends one's day as they see fit.
One part of why we...
why we consume one thing
is that we work so long,
and a lot of people aren't
finding fulfillment in their jobs.
And they need someway to tell
themselves that it is worth it,
that it is amounting to something more
than a few numbers in a bank account.
There is more. There is more to
life than bills and money and work.
How do you win?
You win by the...
traditional monikers of success.
[AJ Leon, Former Wall Street Broker]
You win by how many zeros
[AJ Leon, Former Wall Street Broker]
right at the end of your paycheck.
[AJ Leon, Former Wall Street Broker]
I remember I was sitting
in a Barnes and Noble's,
and I was deciding what
major I would study,
and all I was doing was
leafing through this book.
It was a book that showed degree
versus and earning potential over time.
And that's when I zeroed in
on finance and accounting.
My entire life became about
winning, with a capital "W".
My entire life became about being
the guy that would be respected.
I've had a series of vertical
leaps through my 20s,
which landed me to this place in 2008.
I was making a ridiculous
six figure salary.
I've got a corner office.
And on December 31, 2007, my
boss calls me into his office,
and he tells me that
I'm getting a promotion.
And this is it.
This is the game changer.
This is me being a
junior partner in this firm
and everything that
I'd ever worked for
was gonna be handed to
me right then and there.
You know, in banking
terms, I was minted.
And I remember just
hearing this man say that,
and it was just a really
bizarre kind of ethereal moment.
Where I was like watching
this happen, you know?
I was almost ... and I
walked out of his office,
and I walked back into my own, and
I just closed the door behind me.
I just started weeping.
Because I realized that I was
completely and utterly trapped.
And that I would never
be able to walk away
from that amount of
money ever in my life.
And any dream that I had
of living a life of purpose
and meaning, and...
being an adventurer,
and somebody that
would actually take risks,
and live a life that's
deliberate and intentional.
Those were gone!
When you see your life scripted out,
and you recognizes that
this is not anything I want.
Why am I doing this?
This guy that's handing me
this firm, I don't want to be him.
I don't envy his life.
Hell, maybe this was
never for me to begin with.
And maybe, if I don't leave right now,
I'm going to be that
dude for the rest of my life.
And I just took the elevator
down 28 storeys and that was it.
And ever since then, I decided
that this life was going to be mine
And it was going to be
wildly, flamboyantly my life.
You know?
Here it is.
We're back, Nevada!
Yeah. That was good.
- All these people are waiting,
- That's why we're here.
and I'm not sure where
they're supposed to be.
I'm thinking... You wanna
go take a look over here?
Sure, we can do that.
We're scrambling to find
seats for roughly 30 people.
This is the most disorganized
night of the tour, so far.
We're in Las Vegas. Go figure.
And the space that we rented here, for
whatever reason there, aren't ready for us.
Even though that we paid rented space.
Thankfully, there are
some awesome people here
who are really helping us.
Somehow, we're gonna make this work.
Thank you very much.
You know it's funny. I used to think
rich was earning $ 50,000 a year.
Then when I started climbing the
corporate ladder in my early twenties,
I quickly began earning $ 50,000.
But I didn't feel rich.
Something went wrong.
I had to go back to the drawing board.
And I found out that, I
hadn't adjusted for inflation.
Okay, so we can
pontificate for only so long.
We're really here for
you, as Ryan mentioned,
and so we would like
to do what we call
questions and attempted answers.
[Clyde Dinkins, Las Vegas Resident]
[Clyde Dinkins, Las Vegas Resident]
You're dedicated, you're
creative, you're innovative.
You have a sincere desire for mankind,
the very people who the
wolves of Wall Street fear.
And to me, you're removing
yourselves from the war.
If you're really talking about
minimalism, the ultimate minimalist
is a hermit, a recluse, or a monk.
And to me, that's not
gonna change the world.
You know what I'm saying?
You're the only threat to that system.
You're right, there are
two sides to the spectrum.
I think we know... we're idealist
somewhere in the middle of that, right?
Because I don't think there is
anything wrong with consumption.
The problem is compulsory consumption.
Buying stuff because that's
what you're supposed to do.
That's what
advertising tells you to do.
Or that's what this... magic
template is for happiness,
so then, when you get it, you realize
that it doesn't make you as
happy as you thought it would.
Yes, it was a great
comment, thank you so much.
We're trying to destroy those
wolves of Wall Street. I'm serious.
- Amen. Let me grab a hug.
- Yeah.
Yeah. Thank you so much.
I tell you, your personality
and your straightforwardness,
and answering all the
questions, that charisma bound,
was connecting with people,
as you can see yourself.
It's like 4:30 in the morning.
And we... are gonna go be on TV.
Good morning, 5:23 am.
A lot of us look forward to buying
the latest gadget or smartphone.
But this morning, I'm joined by two men
who've taken what
they say is a simpler route
and are living a life of minimalism.
Hi, we're here for the
5 o'clock hour and 6 o'clock hour,
Josh and Ryan with the Minimalists.
I was living the American Dream
and realized it wasn't my dream.
I looked around at all
the stuff in my life
when my mother died
and my marriage ended,
both in the same month and started
questioning what was actually important.
What things were actually
adding value to my life?
And I realized that many of the things
that I had bought to make me happy,
they weren't actually doing their job.
Okay well, good luck to you.
Take it easy.
Don't do too much. Don't
buy anything today, alright?
Good luck with that.
We'll be back in just a bit.
Well that's the 5:30,
the lastest storm is...
Minimalism is not a radical lifestyle.
Yeah, I absolutely believe in
quality over quantity. Right?
So I'd much rather have
one nice sweatshirt
than a closet full of ugly sweatshirts
that I don't enjoy wearing.
I don't own a lot of clothes now,
but all the clothes I do own,
are my favorite clothes.
So let's take a look at what I have
packed for ten months of traveling.
I'm wearing my one pair of jeans.
Got a couple of denim shirts.
I have a short sleeve button-up
Oxford, a few T-shirts,
A blow dryer.
Every good minimalist has a blow dryer.
And plenty of underwear. Now
here's a secret with underwear.
You have to have one color
that's in the middle.
This is how you separate
your dirty underwear
from your clean underwear...
with the red pair of underwear.
Toiletry bag.
Everyone needs a toiletry bag, obviously.
And I also have a laptop with me,
but that's it, for ten months.
We don't really have a plan,
which is pretty much our story.
In 2010, when I was really digging
into this decluttering and simplifying,
I thought about the one place...
[Courtney Carver, Founder, Project 333]
in my house that was the most cluttered
[Courtney Carver, Founder, Project 333]
and that was my closet.
And so I decided to create
a minimalist fashion challenge,
to use less than what I had.
So in Project 333, the challenge for me
was to wear 33 items for three months.
And the 33 items included clothing,
jewelry, accessories, and shoes.
And that's where I usually lose people.
It was a great way for me
to really see what I needed,
what I was using, and just if
it would make a difference.
And so I was working in advertising.
I had a lot of clients
I had to see everyday.
I go to to sales meetings,
and for that first three
months, nobody noticed.
The story got picked up
by the Associated Press,
because so many people
were writing about it,
and practicing it and trying it.
In this video, I'm gonna talk more
about how I plan my Project 333.
Project 333...
And I thought, "Oh boy, this was it,
and they didn't notice.
So I probably went that full year
until I left my job, with
no one really knowing
that I was dressing with only 33 items.
I do this thing called Project 333,
and it just kind of helps me
keep my order really simple.
I went from this giant closet where I had,
I don't know, 100
sweaters, to now having
this super tiny wardrobe
and being able to share
a closet with Logan.
And has made a big difference, just...
I don't fret about what I'm going to put
on in the morning, because all the stuff
in my closet is awesome.
At least I think so.
There's something about
not being prepared
for every moment that actually helps
you engage with your community.
Being pregnant, for instance,
is such a limited time.
I had a dress-up events to go to
and I said to David, "Let me
go see if I can find a dress."
And I was thinking, "Gosh,
this is really outdated."
I have two months left.
The event is next week.
What am I gonna do? So I
called a couple of my girlfriends.
"Hey, do you any dresses I
can, you know, go through?"
But in the past, you know, I definitely
would have bought what
I needed, when I needed it
Because that's what you do.
You prepare yourself, you
know, for your situation.
The beauty of that is it
becomes very communal.
Our friends ask us for stuff.
You know, we've become closer
to people because of it.
Mark and I got married in 2005,
and a year later, I
started feeling really bad.
Had a lot of vertigo, and
tingling, and fatigue.
That following year got really bad,
and in July, I was diagnosed
with Multiple Sclerosis.
And at first we were both terrified.
It was hard. And that
was a tough time.
I mean immediately, my response
wasn't I got to simplify things.
I'm a slow learner.
So I decided that I had to really
push hard to prove that I was okay.
And so, I worked more.
I worked out more.
I really pushed myself for
probably that first month
and I felt terrible.
In any disease or sickness,
one of the biggest factors,
and one of the things that contribute
to these things, in a negative way
is the stress in your life.
By getting rid of these
things in our lives,
these material items, and all these
excess that we used to live in,
good things happen.
Since then, I have not had
what I would consider a relapse.
I'm in better health than I
was before I was diagnosed.
People always tell you,
or at least they did for me
in the early stages of MS you
have to listen to your body.
Like listen to my body? I
can't even listen to my family.
I don't know how I'm
going to hear my body.
And so as I started to
move that stuff out,
I was able to finally realize
what I had sacrificed by being
busy, by engaging in constant work.
We have this capacity for focus,
but we're living in a context
where we are continually
moving from one stimulus
to next, in search of the
dopamine experience,
where we rewarded by
the next email, or the next retweet,
or the next thing that comes
into our phone rather often.
I think it's a price we pay for that.
This really become...
has become an issue.
There is a Nokia study
that shows that the average
person checks his or her
phone like a 150 times a day.
You walk down the streets in any major
city. They're locked into their devices.
We're totally in the Matrix.
And it's easier to be mindless
and just read the paper,
Update your social
media feed and consume.
Because you can do anything you want,
you can potentially do
everything you want.
[Patrick Rhone, Author, ENOUGH]
But to do everything you want,
you have to sacrifice for things
that really are important.
When it comes to you overwhelm,
the easiest way to
solve that is to turn it off.
Really, just turn it off.
It was really powerfull to realize
that most of my life was in a daydream.
I got here at ABC News
when I was 28 years old.
I was a really ambitious young guy.
And my way of compensating
for my insecurity
about being such a newbie,
was to throw myself into the job
and really become a workaholic.
And after 9-11, I raised
my hand to go overseas
and cover the ensuing conflicts.
We were fortunate this
week to have our reporter
Dan Harris on a trip
organized by the Taliban.
We arrived at night,
a spine rattling ride
down a single mangled road
into a city under siege.
I spent a lot of time
in Iraq and Afghanistan
without really thinking much about
the psychological consequences.
And when I came home from
a particularly long trip in Iraq,
I got depressed.
And then I did something
really really dumb,
in which I started to self-medicate
with recreational drugs.
It was enough, according to my doctor,
to provoke a panic
attack on live television.
We're gonna go now to Dan Harris,
who's at the newsdesk. Dan?
Health news now.
One of the world's most
commonly prescribed medication
may be providing a big bonus.
Researchers report, people that
take cholesterol-lowering drugs,
called statins for at least five years,
may also lower their risk for cancer.
But it's too early to prescribe
statins solely for cancer prevention.
That does it for news. We're gonna
go back now to Robin and Charlie.
It raised the level of adrenaline in my
brain which, according to my doctor,
primed me to lose it
on Good Morning America
in front of five million people.
5.019 million people, according
to the Nielsen ratings.
That moment set me off
on a weird and windy road
that ultimately led me to the last
thing that I ever thought would
would be useful for anybody,
which was meditation.
We're ruminating about
the past and future
in a way that keeps us
from really connecting
with the present moment, in a
way that values it as good enough.
Meditation is a technique
of finding wellbeing
in the present moment,
before anything happens.
You can be happy and satisfied
simply being aware of the
sensation of breathing.
Very rarely are we fully
dedicated to one thing.
We are interrupting ourselves,
or allowing ourselves
be interrupted by these streams of data
and what would, in any other context,
be thought of as distractions,
but now we think of them as this is
all necessary parts of our bandwidth.
If I leave my phone in my pocket
and it is on vibrate mode,
unconsciously, I'll
flinch when it vibrates.
I even flinch when it doesn't
vibrate, thinking it vibrates.
And that kills that little discussion.
Like, those nanoseconds of distraction,
I think has a hugely
detrimental effect.
Everywhere I look, it's like
constant high frequency flinches.
This anticipation of novelty
has the character of making us the
lab rats such as pressing the bar.
Meditation is a great
great antidote to that.
The people around here at
ABC News would asked me
"Why are you meditating?"
"What's the matter with you?"
What happened to you?
Eventually, I started to answer:
"Oh you know, it's because it
makes me about 10% happier."
And I could see the looks
transform, from scorn slash
skepticism into interest, like
"Oh! That sounds reasonable."
"I'd like that."
One of the best piece of
advice I've ever received
in my entire life was
from a meditation teacher
named Joseph Goldstein.
I was asking him about
the utility of worry.
In the specific context,
I was talking about
whether it made sense to
worry about missing a flight.
And I was arguing to him that:
"Look, you Buddhists are always talking
about how thoughts are just thoughts.
They don't necessarily have
any connection to reality,
but the fact is, if I miss
my flight, I'm screwed."
And he said, "You're
unquestionably correct,
but there is a certain amount
of worry that makes sense
and a certain amount
of worry that doesn't.
So, on the seventeenth time that
you're worrying about missing your flight
and all of the horrible ramifications,
maybe ask yourself a simple question:
'Is this useful?' "
Boom! For a guy who spent his
whole life worrying and thinking
that my worrying was the edge
I had over everybody else,
because I knew I was going to be
more anxious and more compulsive
than any of my competitors,
I realized that there is a
certain amount of worrying
that is what I call
constructive anguish,
and then there's useless rumination
that just making you miserable.
It's not like I'm 100%
mindful all the time.
You know, I still do an
enormous amount of stupid shit,
and if my wife was
here, she would give you
the "90% still a moron" spiel.
There is no question that I am
still an idiot in lots of ways,
but I'm less of an idiot
and less of a jerk,
and more thoughtful, and
more focused and calmer.
We've been on tour all year,
and just when I start to think
if we're getting through,
if we're making a difference,
the Today Show gives us a call.
and asks us to be on.
Now we have an
opportunity to share this
with millions of people,
which... is... is huge.
Dude, we're actually late
now, so we got to go.
The entrance is ...
What is the address? It's 35?
Yeah, but you'll see like the
Today Show sussed that up.
Oh! Right there, there it is.
- Are you sure this is it?
- Yup. Go down stairs."
We're in together.
From NBC News,
this is Today.
With Black Friday, Cyber Monday,
boughs of holly and stuffed stockings,
It can start to feel like the holidays
are more about more and less
than about what's really important.
Joshua Fields Millburn
and Ryan Nicodemus
have come to see things differently.
They are what you call ...
The Minimalists.
In a hypothetical world,
What if one of you falls madly in love
with a maximalist who likes her stuff?
What you gonna do?
Well, that's a great question.
My girlfriend, actually I live with
I don't think she would
call herself a minimalist.
She's got about 20 pairs of shoes.
Well, that's not bad.
- It's nothing compared to what I have.
- Hello?
But what I will say is that her and I
have very similar values and beliefs.
We respect one another.
We love one another.
- We appreciate one another.
- It's a great lifestyle,
- it's a great topic for Today.
- It's great to meet you both.
- Yeah, Merry Christmas.
- The Minimalist
latest book, Everything That
Remains, is in stores right now.
What a concept.
So the event last night was crazy.
We showed up, the store
owner had about 30 chairs out.
I asked him to put out more chairs
and he was like, "Are you sure
you're going to need more chairs?"
Ken Burns was here and he
maxed out all my seating.
I got 60 chairs total.
And I said, "Yeah. I think we'll
have about 50 or 60 people show up."
Go ahead and bring the
rest of the chairs out.
And we ended up having like
150, 200 people show up.
I mean, people were standing on
the bookshelves, wall to wall.
It's great for coming
out to support us, man.
Okay, thanks for everything you do.
I think your story
came at the right time.
You guys are my inspiration.
Awesome, thank you so much
for that. I'm glad we could help.
Thanks for coming out, brother.
We're seeing more and more
and more people show up,
so, it's great to see that
the message is spreading.
So we are on our way to Los Angeles.
It's gonna be our biggest venue so far.
Expecting one of our biggest
crowd, and really I think
Los Angeles is a city that
can really use this message.
Cars, homes and six digits salaries.
It may sound like a dream life.
Joshua Millburn and Ryan
Nicodemus on a world book tour.
And here to explain why someone
would just give up all of these stuff.
Letting it go was really very difficult.
I wish I could say it was as
easy as renting a dumpster
and throwing away all my stuff,
but it was really a process.
I love watching how it's spreading
like wildfire, in a good way.
It's like a good plague.
A startling new study
shows a huge number of
children under the age of four
have access to a mobile
device, and some of those kids
started using them before
they were one year old.
We're building more competitive
more interesting environments
for the consumer.
This means adjusting signals their
telling us about their interests,
and making sure we can control
what message they see next.
The Toronto based ad executive
has written an op-ed
in the Globe and Mail
saying it's time we stop
advertising to children.
Advertising for children
has existed for so long.
What's changed though, is the amount
of this advertising and the media
through which these advertising comes.
Historically, companies
who'd had products aimed at
kids would go toward the mothers
and getting the mothers to want
to buy the stuff for their kids.
What happens is that companies
decide to go around the mothers
and go directly to the kids.
I don't know what the most common
three words are in American homes.
I don't know if it's "I love
you" or if it's "I want that".
5,000 advertisements
we see every single day,
from the moment we're born.
And they all tell us, "Hey, this
is what your life should be about."
It should be about
accumulating more things
or it should all be
about focusing on you.
If you guys have walked around,
you know, a kid's store lately,
but it's kind of incredible.
Anything you ever could have
dreamed of has been thought of.
Advertisers have just realized
there's this huge market.
There are parents who want to
[Christine Koh, Minimalist Parenting]
give their kids the best, and they're
really working hard to go that angle.
In 1983, companies spent
$100 million marketing to children.
In 2006, companies spent $17 billion.
There is a problem, of
both process and content,
and the problem of content is huge.
The products that are being
advertised to kids are junk.
Welcome to Mutant Mania Wrestling.
One hundred and twenty new
characters you can collect.
The secret is their flexi-spine!
It's a junk culture. It's
food that's bad for them.
It's crappy toys, that
are gendered and violent.
I don't see the argument for
subjecting children to this,
Like, there's no positive
social benefit from it.
We just know there's a negative,
and it's just the political
power of advertising
and the companies that
do the advertising that,
keeps us from doing
something about it.
So I've heard someone say,
"There is another word for minimalism,
it's called being a bachelor.
So it's.. Yeah, I mean, I could see how
[Leo Babauta, Husband & father of six]
people would think. Oh that's really easy
if you're not married and you have no kids.
How do set an example
of myself, being married
and having six kids, which is
totally un-minimalist and very ironic?
How do I live a minimalist lifestyle
with those kinds of constraints?
Jaqueline and I haven't been
too prescriptive about, like
"You have five toys" you know.
No, dude. You can only have one truck.
You can't have three trucks" you know.
It's like now, when I was a little
kid, I didn't have one GI Joe.
Oh I had like 100 GI Joes.
We've welcomed things into our lives,
but definitely with the intention of
thinking about what we're doing
as opposed to just consuming.
When you live with other people
and your family, you can't
just make unilateral decisions.
"Okay, we're now getting rid of everything
and throwing the TV out the door."
There will be a riot.
That's a little bit frustrating,
because you can't just get your way.
But it's also a really
interesting experiment
and how you can move
together as a group
and learn about this
together as a group.
At the very beginning, when
we decided to live with less,
we knew early on that
minimalism would just
gonna look like the way
we wanted it to look.
I remember going through
getting rid of things
and finally saying, "Okay, Sam.
Let's go through your toys
and let's get rid of some of the
things you don't need any more."
And he had no problem whatsoever.
My daughter is seven and
she is very different.
She loves every doll that she can get.
She collects rocks, twigs and
any thing else you can find.
She collects and she holds on to.
You know, as parents, we get to to
set some boundaries for her but,
but ultimately, we let
her choose what she wants.
I think he certainly has been
at a different level of minimalism...
[Kim Becker, Co-Founder, The Hope Effect]
than I am.
[Kim Becker, Co-Founder, The Hope Effect]
He wanted to get rid of more than I wanted to get rid of,
and so there comes the compromise.
His side of the closet looks much
smaller than my side of the closet.
And that's okay with us.
You know, I think one
of the lessons that
that we learned through
this whole journey
is just... that our kids
are really watching us.
And we can tell them that we
want them to be certain people,
but, man, they're picking
up a lot more just
from how we...
how we live our lives.
This is undercurrent of consumerism.
Removing some of that stuff
provided a safe environment
where they are able to become
what they most want to be,
rather than what the world will
try to convince them to be.
Good evening.
It's clear that the true
problems of our nation
are much deeper,
deeper than gasoline lines
or energy shortages, deeper
even than inflation or recession.
In a nation that was
proud of hard work,
strong families, close knit communities,
too many of us now tend to
worship self indulgence.
and consumption.
Human identity is no longer
defined by what one does,
but by what one owns.
But we've discovered that owning
things and consuming things
does not satisfy our
longing for meaning.
We've learned that piling up
material goods cannot fill
the emptiness of lives which
have no confidence or purpose.
This is not a message of
happiness or reassurance,
but it is the truth,
and it is a warning.
We think we need those things,
because we've been told
we need those things.
We've been told we need
those things by our society.
It's been this kind of slow little
thing, that's just kind of trickle down
and suddenly it becomes
the thing you do.
It really does come down
to a value based ideal.
You want to do the most amount of good
and get the most amount of value
with exactly what you need.
Having too little is not
going to give you that,
and having too much is not
going to give you that, right?
Having that balance, having enough,
that's what you're looking for.
If I had to revise the American Dream,
it would be more about
coming together in community.
It would be more about a society
which had much less
inequality and more fairness,
in which everybody had a chance,
and that is responsible toward
the planet and our ecosystem.
To me, that would be an American Dream.
When you talk about not consuming,
people think, well, you're trying
to take something away from them.
But the truth of the matter is that
I think that what this
movement is really about
is questing after a life
that's good for ourselves
and good for the people around us.
So we're in Los Angeles now.
We're here for our biggest event.
What we're trying to do is show people
there is a different
way for us to live.
The people you bring into your live,
you should always be
hanging out with people
who have the same values and that's
really what minimalism is all about.
It's about living deliberately.
So every choice that I make,
every relationship, every item,
every dollar I spend,
I'm not perfect, obviously,
but I do constantly ask the
question: "Is this adding value?"
Am I being deliberate
with this decision?
Go see 'em tonight at The Last
Bookstore in Los Angeles, at 7 o'clock.
Thank you, Joshua and
Ryan for coming in.
The Last Bookstore
Spring Arts Collective
I didn't realize it at the time,
but I was so focused on
what my idea of success was.
My idea of success was
making more money.
Consumer relationships were a priority.
Well, I didn't pay any attention
to the people closest to me,
including my mom.
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 had used
people to sell cell phones.
I've used people to get
bigger and better clients.
And what I love about my life
now is that I can be genuine.
And that there is no manipulation.
It is my very, very great pleasure
to introduce Joshua Fields Millburn and
Ryan Nicodemus, the Minimalists.
Imagine a life with less,
a life of passion,
unencumbered by the trappings
of the chaotic world around you.
Well, what you're imagining
is an intentional life.
It is not a perfect life, and it is not
even an easy life, but a simple one.
What I found with minimalism is that
it's a way of saying,
"Let's stop the madness."
You don't need these stuff.
Like it's not going to do it.
It's not the answer.
There's a movement growing.
I don't think that there's a cap to it.
I'm now surrounded by people
who are inspired and creating
massive social change and impact.
The depth and profundity
of my relationship
is beyond anything I
could ever imagine.
When you recognise
that this life is yours,
and that it is your one and only,
and when that ceases to be
to be esoteric bullshit, when
that's not hippie poetry any more,
when the pragmatism of that statement
seeps directly in your bones,
and you recognise that this is it,
everything changes.
I don't know where you
are on your journey,
where you are in life, or wherever
you're going on that journey,
but we're really grateful
you're here with us tonight.
So if I could give one takeaway,
one thing to bring away from
all of this, it would be this:
Love people and use things,
because the opposite never works.
Thank you so much for coming out.