The Minimalists: Less Is Now came out today and I finished watching it a few hours ago. It was a little over an hour long and was a joy to watch.
The film came across as a re-introduction of the idea of minimalism. Similar to the first documentary, we hear about the life stories of Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, and what led them to become minimalists.
Scene by scene re-enactments of different events in their lives are played out. Joshua is the primary narrator as he was the first of the two to start the lifestyle.
In between these different scenes, they bring in other people to discuss the problem of consumerism. Among them included well-known financial author and radio host, Dave Ramsey.
While a majority of the other faces from the last film are not present, testimonials are given by new faces. Young, old, black, white, and people from all walks of life.
Some who are already minimalists might not find much new within the film that they haven’t already heard.
Nonetheless, it can re-inspire you to take a more intentional approach to the way you live your life.
At the end of the film, people are encouraged to take on the less is more challenge. You remove (sell, donate, throw out) one item on the 1st, two on the 2nd, and so on for the whole month.
All in all, it was an insightful film to watch. Here are some of the biggest takeaways you can get from it.
1. Intentional use of resources you have
Joshua boiled down minimalism to the simplest definition I’ve heard yet. The intentional use of resources you have.
Notice, it’s not having the least number of things or creating the most minimalist aesthetic. It’s just making sure what you have is what you use.
Every item you see in every room you enter, you can ask yourself three questions:
- When was the last time I used this?
- How often do I use this?
- Do I care to keep to using it?
If the answer to that last question is no, you might want to consider taking that item out of your home.
2. Adding value
The theme of adding value was also stressed throughout the movie. It wasn’t just in the sense of owning items that were valuable.
It was also in the sense of just becoming more valuable people in life. When we’re more intentional in the items we choose to have, we regain our time.
Time to enjoy with our loved ones, time to give to our community, and the time to practice self-growth and be better overall.
3. Don’t fall for advertisements
A great amount of time was spent discussing how much advertisers study us and use our data to get us to buy more.
It’s important for us to be more conscious of all the imagery and messages that are being communicated to us on a daily basis.
We must be wise in stepping back and evaluating whether what we’re being sold is something we really need.
As Joshua expressed in the film, he worked hard and achieved the American dream, but it wasn’t his dream.
Our idea of what we should have in life should be based on our desires, and not what advertisers to tell us to desire.
4. You are enough
Many of the messages which advertisers use to convince us to buy things is the idea that something will make us enough.
The latest new clothes and shoes will make us cool enough for our friends. The newest gadgets will make us sufficient enough to function in society.
But when we stop and think about it, all of these things eventually become not enough. And we have to buy something again to get that feeling of being enough again.
We don’t need stuff to know that we’re enough. We can know we’re enough through recognizing the goodness of who we are and being proud in the way we try to live.
5. "I'll be happy when" should be "I’ll be happy now"
Much like Joshua and Ryan thought they’d be happy when they became wealthy, we too think we’ll become happy at some certain point in time.
You might have thought you’d be joyful when you graduated school. Maybe you thought you’d be content when you made "X" amount of dollars.
But the thing we learn once we get to these points is that the feeling is fleeting. Once you get somewhere and that brief joy goes away, you’ll just be chasing happiness somewhere else.
But through being intentional in our items and choices, it helps us to take more steps in creating joy in the now.
The now of whatever you own, the now of whatever is good in your life, and the journey of having contentment.
There will always be ups and downs and twists and turns in life. What you want more of today you might not want as much of tomorrow, and that’s okay.
You take each day as it comes and try to be better at knowing what matters to you, and putting your focus towards that.
6. Memories are within you
During the time period when Joshua lost his mother, he had to sort through all of his mother’s things and figure out what to do with it.
It was in that moment, he discovered that he didn’t need to keep so much of her stuff to hold on to her memory.
That his memories of her would always be within him, and that the items could be of more value by allowing other people to use them.
It helped him to get rid most of the stuff his mother accumulated and keep just a few items he felt were most sentimental.
Through doing that, he found he valued the those items he kept even more. We can strive to think in this way whenever we struggle to let go of sentimental things.
7. Manage your attention
Advertisers are constantly competing for our attention. The more they take it away from us, the less we’re able to give it to ourselves.
Our attention being directed to our needs and desires is what allows us to know what we truly value in life.
We can practice deliberately taking time to focus and meditate on what matters to us. We can be intentional about limiting the distractions all around us on social media and the internet in general.
I wrote an article where you can learn more about practicing social media minimalism.
8. Stop buying your way out of problems
Not every solution to problem has a price tag. It’s funny sometimes how much we rely on items like smartphones to entertain us.
We’ve forgotten how much we can be entertained by just spending time with our loved ones or focusing on our hobbies.
Boredom is not a problem that requires spending to fix. Low self-esteem will never be something you can buy your way out of.
It’s these and other problems in life, that require something deeper than an item.
They require a love for ourselves, a joy with ourselves, and all of us being there for each other more.
9. Discover what you truly want
Perhaps one of the overarching themes of the documentary was just discovering what you truly want.
We’re told all throughout the day on television, radio, or the internet what we should want.
We get told to want everything from a new car to a big flat screen television. But is that what you want?
Is that what you really feel you need? Advertisers may try really hard to convince you that you do, but you know deep inside what you want. It’s your choice to pursue that.
10. Find who you want to be
Life is as much a journey about discovering who you are as it is discovering what you want.
Joshua and Ryan discovered that they didn't want to be some six-figure- salary, big-house-owning, latest-gadget-buying individuals.
They just wanted to be someone they were happy with. They wanted to be genuinely happy with the lives they lived.
Minimalism was the tool that helped them to get there. They presented a compelling message that it could be the tool that could help all of us get there.
If you haven’t tried living a minimalist lifestyle yet, I encourage you to give it a try for the new year.
If you’re not sure where to get started, here are some articles that can help you: