Book review for “MINIMALISM: LIVE A MEANINGFUL LIFE” – Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus

Best quotes

“Happiness, as far as we are concerned, is achieved internally through living a meaningful life, a life that is filled with passion and freedom, a life in which we can grow as individuals and contribute to other people in meaningful ways. These are the bedrocks of happiness. Not stuff.”

“We want you to enjoy your life, and living a healthy lifestyle gives you the optimum conditions to do so.”

“take an honest look at your current relationships. Do they make you happy? Do they satisfy you? Are they supportive? Do they help you grow? Do they contribute to your life in positive, meaningful ways?”


An autobiographical account of two guys which follows their six figure salary, workaholic, miserable lives to an eventual crossroads. They decided to follow the road less traveled to find meaning in life beyond the tireless pursuit of wealth, possessions, and approval.

The book tells you how and why to declutter and refocus your life and how and why to improve your health, improve your relationships, grow as a person, contribute to the world and find and engage in your passion. All in order to live what they define as a meaningful life that will make you much happier.

It’s a great introduction to minimalism but it’s not a how-to guide for simplifying your wardrobe or anything like micro-level like that, this is more about the bigger picture.

How it helped me

After reading this book I re-evaluated a lot of areas in my life, which I always love when a book has me doing this.

One of these areas was health, where I rethought how much alcohol I should actually be consuming, which may have been a contributing factor to my eventual decline from a “lets-just-get-shitfaced-every-weekend” policy to drinking in moderation. It also had me reconsidering the notion of exercise. No you DON’T have to be a spartan fucking warrior to be healthy, it isn’t a binary scale that goes straight from land whale to olympic athlete, there is an in-between. Which sounds really dumb to write, but it was a breakthrough for me. The book also introduced me to the concept of a paleo diet, which I approximately follow today.

For relationships, considering the value each relationships brings in, and the category a relationship fits in… filled me with unease… because it made me realise that a lot of my relationships basically sucked. And since then, seeking out better relationships has been a goal of mine. It also led me to eventually ditch probably the biggest wanker I ever had the misfortune to call a friend, which was huge. Afterwards i could only wonder what took me so damn long. I also began thinking about my friends in terms of those that were anchors holding me back, and those that acted like helium, lifting me up and helping me towards my goals. That a friend should be someone that supports you and encourages you, rather than someone you simply knew for a long time, had never really occurred to me before.

The book also led me to really think about what were the “anchors” that were preventing me from achieving my goals. Who are what is holding me back and what can I do to stop this. I ended up identifying and eliminating a lot of my anchors.

Although the book isn’t really about the nitty-gritty of decluttering the stuff in your life, it did encourage me to make more use of this tool of minimalism, which a journey I’m still on. Decluttering my crap was hugely satisfying and it was one of those experiences where afterwards I wondered how I ever lived like I did beforehand.

Content of book

The book covers their journey and the pitfalls many might fall into by living life the “normal” way

– Health: Diet, Exercise and Rest

– Relationships: Categories of relationships (Periphery, Secondary, Primary), toxicity/value of relationships

– Growth: general, “don’t stagnate” advice

– Contribution: How/why to gain the satisfaction of helping a cause

– Passion: How and why to identify it and pursue it

– Identity: How do you define yourself? Because if it’s solely your career, and your career comes into turmoil, your self-esteem is in choppy water. So it recommends you have a more complex identity, sure you could be a lawyer or whatever, but you’re also a friend, cricketer, mentor, gamer, avid stamp collector and so on. So it’s like diversifying your identity to make your self-esteem less volatile.

Where in your journey this fits

The ideas from the book are not all that different from those in “Happiness: the Science Behind your Smile”, presumably because the authors have read about the science of happiness. This book could serve as a more persuasive and practical manual for implementing some of the scientifically approved methods for making your life happier, to be read after understanding the science of happiness but before getting into the world of minimalism and before getting into health, relationships, growth, contribution and passion goal implementation.

Style of the book:

It’s fairly short and fairly interesting, with an intelligent structure to it and pretty persuasive arguments in it. They don’t delve far into the science behind their ideas, but they probably don’t need to.

Criticism of the book:

The goal of book is to empower you to live what they define as a “meaningful” life, so it’s technically off-point if this isn’t your specific goal. The book leaves out money and other areas, so I guess it mightn’t be as holistic as some might desire.

Most of the other criticism I’ve read about for the book is just readers who are apparently too stupid to read a blurb and take offence to the notion that the book isn’t about the nitty gritty of minimalism.

Key chapters

“Chapter 1: How we got here” details their journey, and acts as a cautionary tale if your life is on the same path as their’s

“Chapter 3: Relationships”

Links to learn more

(Their website and blog):

(Their description of minimalism):

(TED talk they gave):

(Another interesting minimalist who has an amazingly appealing lifestyle):

(Another minimalist who clears up misconceptions):

(Audiobook from

(Audiobook from iTunes):

(Paperback and Kindle from Amazon):

(Paperback and Nook from Barnes and Noble):


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