They could annoy Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus with their buxom success – 20 million people are addicted to their website Theminimalists.com, while they praise frugality. But after reading Minimalism (Ed. J’ai Lu, 2021), we must admit that their idea of removing the superfluous from our lives in order to keep only the essential is well received.
A journey that they themselves have accomplished. Shortly before their 30s, these brilliant Ohio salespeople gave up their six-figure wages to “stop wasting their lives earning it.” The slogan is not new, but it has the merit of being still relevant today. Their method? Five essential values which make it possible to privilege what “makes really happy”.
Health, relationships, passions, personal growth and contribution. These are the five pillars of minimalism, Millburn and Nicodemus version. When we opened this little book with its bare cover, we thought we’d find a way to throw away an unnecessary object every week. Missed. The two in their thirties have sold their house, their luxury car and thousands of items on eBay, but when it comes to household issues, they leave us free to choose our way of “going beyond the material”. Well almost. Because they still give vigorous advice.
Health, this vehicle
First essential value, health. Unsurprisingly, the authors advocate the “eat light and move more” combi, specifying that health is not a “destination, but a vehicle”. You have to start from what you are – Joshua broke a vertebra while playing basketball as a teenager – and live as healthily as possible with that limited body. Be careful, “being handsome or beautiful is not the goal, but a bonus”. Because whoever eats healthy, sleeps well, moves a little and meditates regularly becomes pretty to look at.
Otherwise, to each his own sport. For Joshua, it’s 18 minutes of push-ups, chin-ups, and squats every morning. At first he did a push-up and collapsed. Now he lines up three sets of 100 and beams. “The secret is to get started and to persist,” notes the young man who has lost 35 pounds gently. “You have to treat your body like your most precious asset, because that’s what it is,” the duo sums up prosaically.
Classify relationships …
Second essential value? Relationships. There, the program becomes more surprising. Convinced that our links are not immutable, minimalists invite us to classify all our human interactions into three categories (primary, secondary and peripheral) and according to the effects they have on us (positive, negative or neutral).
“We observe that people spend most of their time with peripheral relationships, such as work colleagues, with a neutral or negative effect. Absurd!” The duo proposes either to “bring us closer to our colleagues to make them rank in the positive primary rank and gain in relational depth”, or to reduce our working time to see more important beings.
… and sort them
Yes, but the money? “I have to pay my bills is a bogus excuse!” exclaim the minimalists, who deliver a very muscular economy plan: drawing up a detailed monthly budget, repaying debts – “no, there is NO good debt!”, setting up a security account for hard knocks and reduced lifestyle. “Whether you win the minimum income or the jackpot, whether you are single or a parent of six children, we have seen that these principles work, because it is a matter of decisions that we make with the resources at our disposal”, guarantee the authors, decidedly serious.
To come back to relationships, “you always have to ask yourself if you make people happy and if these people make us happy and help us grow”. Sort if necessary. The past is not important, no need to try to fix it, on the other hand, “write down what you expect from the future and choose accordingly. You deserve quality links. ” Sorting, you have to be daring, but we understand the principle …
Passions, a pillar
The third value? Passions. “Too many people go through a lackluster job thinking that passion is only for a lucky few. It’s wrong! We all have to find what excites us and shape our jobs accordingly. ” And if this passion pays little, “no big deal, because when you do what you love, you don’t have to spend a fortune to compensate for your frustration”, argues the duo.
A CEO always arouses more admiration than a stay-at-home dad? “Ban labels. Stop thinking that work defines you. We are who we are and not what we do. ” Moreover, minimalists replace the famous question “What do you do for a living?” by “What excites you in life?”, less stigmatizing.
No rest for the wicked
The fourth value, personal growth, is a state of mind. It is about “reviewing standards upwards”, “always improving”, “constantly asking the question of added value and avoiding toxic gossip”. No rest for the wicked!
The fifth value? The contribution, unexpected in our time obsessed with its navel. Because, yes, for the duo, it is simply a question of helping others. “The more you grow, the more you become able to give of yourself!” assure the two authors who, in fact, do not stop making themselves useful, to read their story. They serve the soup kitchen, have repainted the school in their neighborhood, raised funds to help disadvantaged residents. And since their website is a hit far and wide, they also funded a school in Laos, a drinking water well in Malawi, a high school in Uganda, an orphanage in Honduras …
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Of course, sometimes it is difficult to get up at 8 a.m. on Sunday morning to attend the local fair. How difficult it is after a day’s work to pay full attention to your other half – “Hold on to every word she says!” “But once you’ve gained enough momentum, you won’t want to stop growing,” say the minimalists who ultimately think big.