Why Having Less Is The Key To Happiness
At first glance, Ryan Nicodemus appeared to have it all. He seemed to be living the American dream as most people imagine it: A great job, a new car, a trendy condo filled with expensive furniture and all the latest electronic devices. He even had two living rooms.
Why, Ryan wonders now, did I need two living rooms?
After all, he was rarely home. He worked an 80-hour week and when he wasn’t working, he was out spending on restaurant meals, lavish vacations, and — sadly — drinking too much. He maxed out his credit cards, worked harder, bought more things.
“Wash, rinse, repeat,” he says.
But he wasn’t happy.
One day, Ryan realized something about his good friend, Joshua Fields Millburn. The two had worked at the same company for years; they had similar jobs and interests. But there was one difference: Joshua was happy. Ryan was miserable. Ryan just had to find out why, so he took his friend to lunch and asked him, what’s the key to happiness?
So began their journey to what has become a popular movement, the minimalists.
It isn’t new. In 1845, the writer Henry D.Thoreau retreated to Walden Pond, seeking the simple life in a tiny cabin with a row of bean plants. Thoreau’s message resonates today, as people are beginning to see the value of clearing away clutter in order to figure out what’s most important in life. The “tiny house” movement is one example. To these minimalists, the answer is a self-built house with 200 square feet of living space. The tiny space forces them to decide what things are essential, and what they can live without.
Here’s the story of how two young men came to realize that their dream life, coveted by many, was actually a trap keeping them from true happiness. The things they had spent years chasing — a bigger condo, a better vacation, more gadgets — were useless.
All that stuff could not fill the inner void.
And for Ryan, it started with a party and a lot of boxes.