Cover of book Essential: Essays by The Minimalists

Essential: Essays by The Minimalists

by: Joshua Fields Millburn, Ryan Nicodemus

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  • Minimalists do this by removing the superfluous, keeping only the possessions that serve a purpose or bring joy. Everything else goes by the wayside.
  • Step 13. Remember a time in childhood when you were more excited by ideas, love, travel and people than by anything else. Realize you have, somehow, bought into a new religion, and that malls, from the inside, look exactly like cathedrals.
  • What are you prepared to walk away from? This oft- unasked question shapes one of the most important principles in my life.
  • So I decided to go through my already minimal closet and dump every item I didn't love.
    I'd rather own just a few outfits – outfits I enjoy wearing, clothes I feel confident in, a wardrobe that brings me joy – than a mediocre collection of once-loved threads.
  • In particular, the habit of spending nearly every waking moment lost in thought leaves us at the mercy of whatever our thoughts happen to be. Meditation is a way of breaking this spell. Focus is one aspect of this: one discovers that concentrating – on anything – is intrinsically pleasurable. But there is more to meditation than just being focused.
  • Your mind is truly all you have. So it makes sense to train it.
  • How to create solitude in chaotic times
    1. Wake early. Wake slowly. Take your time. Think. I write in the mornings in a quiet room with no distractions - no TV, no radio, no clocks, no noise: just me and my thoughts and the words on the page.
    2. Schedule time to read.
    3. Go for a walk.
    4. Exercise. I exercise everyday. Sometimes I go to the gym. Sometimes I do push- ups, squats, and pull-ups in the park.
    5. Get rid of distractions.
  • Much like Thoreau's lakeside plot, my room contained only a few necessary items: a bed for sleeping, a desk for writing, a chair for sitting, and a lamp for reading.
    Occasionally, I burned a candle so my olfactory sense — our strongest sense — knew I was in my quiet place
  • I didn't want anything else in my quiet place. It needed to be not only quiet auditorily, but visually as well.
  • Being focused, on the other hand, involves attention, awareness, and intentionality. People sometimes mistake my focused time for busyness because complete focus apes many of the same surface characteristics as busy: namely, the majority of my time is occupied.
    The difference, then, is I don't commit to a lot of things, but the tasks and people I commit to receive my full attention. Being focused doesn't allow me to get as much accomplished as being busy; thus the total number of the significance of each undertaking has gone up-way up.
  • Now I wake when I want to wake, write when I want to write, exercise when I want to exercise, eat when I want to eat, and live life every minute of every day, irrespective of time. I realize this time-free approach isn't practical for many people, but maybe it still has a practical application for everyone:  maybe you can take one day each month (or even one day a week) and kill the time.
  • It was Lao Tzu who once said, “a good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.”
  • There's a pull-up bar at the bottom of my stair.My writing space is upstairs, so each time I head downstairs I bust out six quick pull-ups: 1,2,3,4,5,6. These six take less than20 seconds, no time at all in the grand scheme of things.
  • What is your Mission? You were not meant to do any one thing for the rest of your life.
  • Step 2. Kill your distractions. Make a list of everything getting in your way.
  • Step 11: Become obsessed. Half of passion is love - the other half, obsession. Your masterpiece will feed off your obsession, growing  mightily the more obsessed you become. Eventually, you'll wake up thinking about it. You'll go to bed thinking about it. You'll think about it in the bathroom stall. This is good. Let your masterpiece become your obsession. Let it take over.
  • Black coffee is a synecdoche for life: when you eliminate the excess — its when you deliberately avoid life's empty calories — what remains is exponentially more delicious, more enjoyable, more worth while. It might be a bitter shock at first; but, much like coffee, a meaningful life is an acquired taste. Sip slowly and enjoy.
  • He seems composed, resolute, content -miles from arrogant. He is: confident.

    Looking over the cowboy, surveying his staunch temperament, I realize his confidence is simply an external display of a rich interior life: congruency between his internal & external worlds. Arrogance, on the other hand, is the opposite of confidence: a veneer of composure, incongruence at its nadir. This is why a confident man is able to coalesce with any group, anywhere; an arrogant man, nowhere at all.