“They focused less about things and more about our relationship with things and people.” That was my final thought as I closed Love People Use Things by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus. I was not disappointed by this book about minimalism; it just wasn’t what I had been expecting and I’m glad it wasn’t.
I believe the relationships we have with things reflect our relationship with people. A house crammed with stuff you don’t need or use, collections, castaways, bins of old things you no longer need, but…what if?! Your relationships people are probably similar. Old friends and new, people you’ve outgrown, people you thought were going to be great that turned out to be not so much. We keep them in our lives through social media contacts, email lists, and Christmas cards at the very least.
The opposite is just as unhealthy. The truth is we need some things, and we need some people. Finding out what is needed and what is not and crafting a healthy relationship with those things and people, is the key. And it’s complicated.
Love People Use Things isn’t just a self-help book of how to get rid of your excess stuff, it’s a personal story about how they got where they are. They don’t give a list of rules. They help you find your own principles of minimalism and then actively use them to build a life of intention.
“Minimalists don’t focus on having less, less, less; they focus on making room for more: more time, more passion, more creativity, more experiences, more contribution, more contentment, more freedom.”
I think of it as having space to move.
“…we feel threatened by the freedom of others. So we protect our hoard, we question anyone who approaches life differently, and we cling tightly to the status quo because we’re scared that someone else’s nontraditional lifestyle is an affront to our own. If that person is free, then we are not. But we forget that freedom is not a zero-sum game.”
I’ve experienced this from people since the day we decided not to send our kids to school. And I still experience it every time I explain to someone that my sons never went to school as children and still have jobs, travel the world, and go to college. My choices are mine alone. They are the way I wish to live. They give me the kind of freedom that I feel comfortable with. It is not a condemnation of your choices. We can both be living the “right” way.
“Allowing others’ expectations to shape our desires and behavior and, ultimately, our lives, will always lead to guilt and shame because we’ll never be able to live up to everyone else’s conflicting values.”
Best to decide what’s best for you, what you personally need, and run with it. You’ll never win the “making other people happy” game. I’ve opted out of that game for a long time now. I will admit, though, it’s very hard. I still long to be accepted and validated by others. It’s human nature. But I’d rather be alone than to not be myself. I’m still learning who I am, what I want, and how to present that to the world without the need for approval.
“Fear is the antithesis of freedom; it is, by definition, constricting.”
I’ve lived with my fear meter up on full my whole life. It’s exhausting.
“The pause is just as essential as the action.”
Minimalism can give us the time to pause. That’s where we think. It’s where we take in information, formulate plans, and make decisions. It’s where we look back and take stock, admire what we’ve done, how far we’ve come. Pause and look around.
“We’ll never ‘get there.’ Because there’s no there there.”
We’re born. We grow. We live. We die. There is no finished. There is no complete. There is just life.
“Never-ending growth says we must grow at any cost; intentional growth happens when we grow in accordance with our values.”
That goes for personal growth, gardens, businesses, non-profits, economy, and government. Having one house and keeping it nice for fifty years is fine. Having one child is ok. Doing one thing well for a long time is great. We don’t need to keep growing just to be growing.
“Just like it’s important to make conscious choices as a consumer, it’s equally important to create consciously. Otherwise, you’re just adding to the noise.”
I struggle with minimalism as a blogger. It’s also another reason why I gave up social media and only write here. If what I write is valuable, it will be looked for, found, and shared. Social media is just noise. This chapter on creativity was a bit of downer for me. I got reflective and judgmental on myself. I’d like to re-read and think on it more.
“The Three Relationships: Primary, Secondary, and Peripheral”
Life is a story. Who are your main characters, supporting roles, and walk-ons? And don’t forget all the extras! This made far more sense to me than family, friends, and strangers.
“Many of us navigate different roads toward joy, but even if we travel separate routes, it is important that we appreciate the journey – not only ours, but the journey of everyone we love. When we appreciate others for who they are, not who we want them to be, then, and only then, will we truly understand.”
Every. Single. One of us. (do not sing Devil Inside)
The last chapter on people was my favorite. Yes, minimalism relates to the people in your life. You don’t have to keep everyone you ever meet in your life. It validated a lot of my thinking and made me feel a little less alone in the world. Something I crave beyond anything is to be accepted by others, for someone to see me, the real me without any masks, and love me. This book made me realize, I DO have that from the main characters in my story. And those are the relationships that matter.
So, yes, I enjoyed reading this book. The Minimalists podcast has been a favorite of mine for several years. They inspire me with their peaceful discussions and the feeling of joy I sense between them. Like the few families I met years ago when I started my unschooling journey, I see them and wonder how they got there, listen closely, and adopt the pieces that work for my life, to get where I want to go.
Minimalism: No rules, just principles, self-reflection, and adaptation.
Want to go back and read my first thoughts on this book when I started? Click back to Love People Use Things: A New Read