Tracker Pixel for Entry

A conversation with renowned minimalist Joshua Millburn

Culture | June 18th, 2015

“As a minimalist, everything I own serves a purpose or brings me joy. Everything else is out of the way,” Joshua Fields Millburn said to HPR in an interview at Twenty Below Coffee.

Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, The Minimalists, were in Fargo for the Misfit Con this past May. During the conference, The Minimalists showed a private test screening of their first film, “Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things.” It’s set to release publicly in 2016.

The two are renowned writers and public speakers who have an audience of about 4 million readers. It’s their less-is-more messagethat has resonated worldwide – and it’s all happened within the past five years.

What’s minimalism? Is it just about getting rid of stuff?

“Well, that’s the first step. But I think anyone can go home right now and rent a dumpster and throw all their shit in it and be totally miserable,” he said.

“Consumption isn’t the problem. We all need some stuff,” Millburn said. “Compulsory consumption is the problem – thinking that we have to buy something because we think it’s going to make us happy or cool or fit in or satiated, even.”

Minimalism is about living life more deliberately, he said. It’s not necessarily about focusing on less. It’s about making room for more, whether that might be time, growth, contribution, experience or conversation.

Certainly a t-shirt, television or pair of shoes can add value to a person’s life or serve a purpose. But what about that 45th t-shirt, that eight pair of sneakers or that third television? Is it possible that when we have so many possessions it waters down our ability to appreciate or take care of the more important possessions we have? Is it possible that if we spend so much time taking care of our possessions we take away from opportunities for personal growth and relationship building? The Minimalists say yes, definitely.

Joshua, Diane and Ryan at Misfit Con in FargoMillburn suggests people start by asking themselves: “Does this thing add value to my life?” or “How might my life be better if I owned less stuff?”

Ironically, before becoming a full-time minimalist writer and public speaker, Millburn managed 150 retail stores. He said he had a big house, luxury cars and all the material possessions every “successful” person his age “should” own. Yet he was very unhappy. He was working 70 to 80 hours a week just to keep up with the lifestyle.

“It was very selfish because it was about me and what can I amass as opposed to what can I contribute,” Millburn said.

After his marriage ended and his mother died, all within the same month, Millburn said he rethought everything. It took having to deal with his mom’s three-bedroom-apartment-load of stuff that helped him realize he didn’t need to hold on to these things to honor the memory of her.

“I learned that other people can get value from the things that I wasn’t getting value from,” Millburn said. “And I also learned by bringing back a few sentimental items, I get so much more value from those few sentimental items than watering them down with dozens or even hundreds of sentimental items.”

Of course, every person values different things and every person has a different story. Millburn said his minimalist lifestyle may be a bit extreme for some people. According to The Minimalists’ website, he owns less than 300 items. That includes everything from his dining room table to his toothbrush.

“We are not prescriptive,” Millburn said. “We don’t say, ‘Here’s the way you should live your life … Here’s the 100 things you should own to be happy.’”

One of the greater purposes of the documentary will be to give people an even broader perspective of minimalism. The film contains interviews with different types of minimalists, including an architect, news anchor, traveler, entrepreneur, fashion designer and neuroscientist.

“We want to get all these different flavors of minimalism … because up until now it’s sort of like, ‘Well, hi. This is Ryan, I’m Josh. This is the Josh and Ryan show.’”

Yet, The Minimalists do what they do knowing full well that any human being could benefit from learning and applying some of the principles of minimalism. Like this one: “Love people, use things. Because the opposite never works.”

YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Learn more about The Minimalists: theminimalists.com

Learn more about the documentary: http://minimalismfilm.com/

Recently in:

Growing Together Opens New GardenBy Annie Prafckehttps://www.facebook.com/annie.prafcke20 May 2021On April 15th, Growing Together held a groundbreaking for the opening of its newest gardens at Gethsemane Cathedral. The space, which…

By Michael M. Millermichael.miller@ndsu.edu17 June 2021The Lehr Tabernacle near Lehr, N.D., celebrates its 100th Centennial with events on June 18-20, 2021. The Tabernacle, also known as Prairie Bible Camp, was featured in an…

2021 Summer Calendar Toby KeithMay 21, 7pmBismarck Event Center, 315 SOUTH 5TH STREET BISMARCKTickets $25-$175, pre-party starts at 5pm.Heart and Soul May 22, 9pmThe Aquarium, 226 N BroadwayR & B, Smooth Jazz, Funk, Neo-Soul and…

Sabrina Hornungsabrina@hpr1.com15 July 2021Our opinion: Let’s work together instead of against each other.Think of where we are now in comparison to last year. Think of what we’ve learned since and how this is affecting our…

Ed Raymondfargogadfly@gmail.com29 July 2021This Is About the Religious-Rich-QAnon-White Supremacist-Trumplican CultThere are hundreds of thousands of cults in countries and societies around the world that have played or are playing…

To say that this year’s Bartenders Battle was the best display of talent in the six years since its creation would be an understatement and a disservice to not only the bartenders who made it into the competition, but also the…

Sabrina Hornungsabrina@hpr1.com15 July 2021With Grand Forks being a hop skip and a cruise away from Fargo-Moorhead, our neighbors to the north have some great dining options. Whether you’re planning on spending a weekend or…

Sabrina Hornungsabrina@hpr1.com15 July 2021“We have a guy that's been involved with the show for many years as a landlord and knew what it was like in the heydays. So he knows where he wants to take it.” says WE Fest General…

by Greg Carlsongregcarlson1@gmail.com24 June 2021Mariem Perez Riera’s “Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It” Stops in Theaters Before Date with “American Masters”On the heels of criticism for defending…

Alicia Underlee Nelson  alicia@hpr1.comDowntown scored a new mural from The Greetings Tour, a project that aims to create a mural in the style of…

By Kris Gruberperriex1@gmail.comDrag shows, for me, feel like a celebration of artistry, esthetic, music, and camaraderie. With a dash of confetti thrown in.The local drag community is a close-knit family. Giving back to affiliated…

by Kris Gruberperriex1@gmail.comAdam Quesnell's last show at The Cellar beneath the Front Street Taproom in Fargo was in early September of 2018. He was embarking on a seminal move from Minneapolis to LA. As always, his comedy was…

By Kris Gruberperriex1@gmail.comSpring is here (mostly), and our area is buzzing with people eager to get back out and about -- many newly vaccinated and feeling a bit safer. Partnering with Jade Events, Fargo Brewing is just…

by Laurie J Bakeremsdatter@gmail.com Part of modern yoga is participating in the world around us. We live in a time of upheaval in society and nature, and of great suffering in humans of all ages. Most of us perceive this suffering…

By Theresa L. Goodrichsubmit@hpr1.comIt was day ten of our epic southwest road trip and we’d made it to Arizona. After camping in Oklahoma, the Texas Panhandle, and New Mexico, we were exhausted, but fortunately our night in…

by Annie Prafckesubmit@hpr1.com17 June 2021On June 19th, from 12pm to 7pm, nonprofit Faith4Hope Scholarship Fund is hosting their first ever Juneteenth Freedom Celebration at Lindenwood Park in Fargo. It is free and open to the…