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Letting go of the stuff

11:22 AM  Nov 13th, 2017
by Anna Lagattuta ’19

After growing up in with an alcoholic mother, no father, and a complete reliance on food stamps, Joshua Fields Millburn grew up believing that the key to happiness was found in money and objects.

So when he turned 18, that’s what he chased after. Millburn owned multiple luxury vehicles, closets full of designer clothes, and a fancy home —  all thanks to his six-figure salary. But he soon found out that possessions were not the key to success or happiness.

The Minimalists, as they call themselves, are Dayton-born Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, who are authors, podcasters, filmmakers and motivational speakers.

UD welcomed the pair in October, in celebration of Sustainability Week. The duo travel around the country and through their podcast, teach others how to live a life with less material possessions.

What the pair teaches is that by focusing less on possessions, people have more time to focus on their passions, experiences and personal growth.

Both men had been at the top of corporate world when they realized that money did not make them happy.

…[W]ith all that stuff, we weren’t satisfied with our lives. We weren’t happy. There was a gaping void, and working 70–80 hours a week just to buy more stuff didn’t fill the void: it only brought more debt, stress, anxiety, fear, loneliness, guilt, overwhelm, and depression,” they write on their website.

That’s when the friends decided to turn to a life of minimalism, getting rid of all material possessions that weren’t absolutely necessary.

“I get far more value from those few sentimental items than I would if I were to water them down with trinkets. So I had to let go of what was weighing me down before I could move on,” Millburn told the audience.

Today, the men travel around the world sharing their story, having been featured on the Today Show and SXSW. Millburn and Nicodemus’ 2015 documentary, Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things, won multiple film festival rewards.

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