Last night Scott and I curled up on the sofa together and watched this documentary ‘Minimalism: a documentary about the important things’ which is film created by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus aka “The Minimalists”, who share their stories through their websites, books and podcasts. I’ve already followed a part of their journey so I was keen to watch this, and this was the first real look at minimalism that Scott has had (other than me giving away and donating tonnes of our stuff!).
I had kind of expected the documentary to solely focus on Joshua and Ryan and have to admit I was pleasantly surprised that it incorporated the varying levels of experience of many different people too. Obviously there was a lot of focus on the two friends but there was also a lot of input through the stories and experiences of many others who have been down the path towards minimalism including a few I already knew such as Leo Babuata of Zen Habits . I loved the balance between personal stories and input from specialists in the fields of consumerism, economy, social studies, history and culture – they added a factual and studied edge to what could have otherwise been a reiteration of blog posts I’ve already seen elsewhere. I also really enjoyed seeing the architects and designers who created apartments and solutions to small living spaces such as the one we are in currently.
I honestly think that I watched this documentary at the right time for me – a time when I am already undergoing a personal journey towards living a simpler life. It was interesting to think of minimalism not simply just as owning less, but as a way of caring for what you own; at one point Ryan says he isn’t telling people to get rid of their book collection if those books bring you joy – he is saying that you need less stuff to feel that joy. Minimalism is a much bigger movement than simply throwing away your stuff – it’s about encouraging a shift away from compulsory consumerism; it’s moving towards an understanding of what we need versus what we want, it’s becoming intentional shoppers and not continuing the cycle of damage to our society and planet.
The documentary does a really good job of showing you that this life choice isn’t relegated to living like a pauper or monk in the smallest space possible. By sharing the stories of people from many walks of life, from those living in rural areas to big cities, from a modern day nomad who only owns what he can carry right through to news anchors and executives. Minimalism is a life choice for a variety of people and lifestyles for different reasons and there is a scale to it just like to any other cultural concept.
It touches on some environmental and spiritual aspects, but this comprises a very small portion of the film. So, those looking for something more along those lines might be a little disappointed. My only real criticism is that I wish they had spent less time following Josh and Ryan’s tour for their last book because as someone who’s read most of their blog and two of their books, as well as listening to their podcast, I’m very familiar with The Minimalists and so for me, the interviews with different minimalists and the various experts were the more interesting parts.
Overall it was really interesting and a great way of introducing Scott to the concepts behind minimalism – it definitely got us thinking more about our use of ‘stuff’ and the space that we live in.
“Love People, Use Things – The Opposite Never Works”
Have you watched it? Let me know what you think!