Book Review: Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life

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Who wrote it: Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus (aka The Minimalists)

What it’s all about:

If Everything That Remains is the “why” of minimalism, Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life is the “how”. This is the reason why I read Everything That Remains first even though it was published after MLMF: I wanted to first understand why Joshua and Ryan decided to become minimalists before I read about how they switched from their corporate existence into a more meaningful and intentional life.

MLMF talks about the Five Values that you must focus on as you transition to minimalism. These Values are Health, Relationships, Passions, Growth, and Contribution. It also discusses the strategies that you can use to improve these five areas in your life. Joshua, for example, talks about his daily 18-Minute Exercises, which help him stay in shape without boring him with workouts he doesn’t like.

Why I like it:

MLMF, for me, can be considered as a bible of minimalism. It doesn’t just talk about eliminating unnecessary things it focuses more on adding more things to your life: more passion, more growth, better health, and better relationships. In a world where we’re bombarded with books on “how to remove clutter”, MLMF is a breath of fresh air since it turns our attention from physical things to inner improvement.

One of my favorite sections is the one about food. MLMF gives a list of foods that must be completely avoided, those that we should reduce or eliminate, and those we can freely consume. It also discusses several types of diets including vegetarianism, veganism, and pescatarianism. The best thing about it is that Joshua and Ryan aren’t preachy; they lay out all the facts for the readers and allow us to make our own choices based on our personal beliefs and situations.

I also like the section about “Removing the Anchor of Money”. I love reading about personal finance so I’m already familiar with the concepts they discuss, but reading these concepts in the book enforces their importance and reminds me that I still have to work on my financial situation.

Where to buy it: I bought my copy from Amazon. The Minimalists also offer a free digital copy of the book, which you can get here. I’ve downloaded the ebook, but I decided to buy a physical copy of MLMF because I like the feeling of holding a real book in my hands.

Favourite quotes:

The desire to improve your health has little to do with looking better.”

Most of us think that being fit and healthy is equal to looking like a model, but this mindset is actually damaging since it turns our focus from our health to our outer appearance. We have to remember that not all models are healthy and that not all healthy people look like they’ve stepped out of a magazine.

This is something that I have to often remind myself since I had gone through a health craze phase in my life. During this time, I went to the gym every day (even though I hated it) and counted every single calorie I ate so I would lose weight and get a thigh gap. I finally stopped when I had a mini-meltdown after I ate a McDonald’s cheeseburger and learned that it has 500+ calories and that I had gone over my 1,500-calorie allotment for the day. Calorie counting works for some people but not for me, and I don’t want to go back to that phase. I’d rather much focus on eating healthy food and enjoying what I eat instead of obsessing over every single kilojoule.

There will always be something there to tempt you from doing the things that make your life more meaningful. The good news is you can avoid those tempting activities by transforming the positive experiences you dislike into positive experiences you enjoy.”

These two paragraphs hit me to the core. For the past few months, I’ve been trying to update my blog as often as possible. In fact, I already have a list of topics that I want to write about. The problem is that I find it hard to write whenever I have free time. I don’t know if it’s caused by burnout (since I work as a freelance writer) or if I’m just naturally lazy. Either way, it’s easier to play Candy Crush or watch TV than to plunk my butt in front of the laptop and write a blog post.

But MLMF has inspired me to change. Writing for my blog is a possible experience that I dislike, but I can turn it into a positive experience that I enjoy by 1) associating pain with not writing a blog post (e.g. my blog won’t grow if I don’t make the effort), and 2) associating pleasure with long-term fulfillment (owning a blog that gives value to people).

I could go on and on about the things I’ve learned from Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life, but we don’t have the whole day. I hope you’ll read MLMF and use it to be closer to an intentional and satisfying life.

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