Review: Minimalism – A Documentary About the Important Things

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Have you thought of your goals for the year or what the theme is for 2017? Well, the theme of this year for me is being extremely deliberate about how I spend my time and my money. I’ll go more into what that means in future posts but it starts with figuring out what brings value to my life and trying to get rid of the fluff. I thought this movie came to me at the perfect time and thought it’d be a perfect way to kick off the new year.

PIMD Review: Minimalism – A Documentary About the Important Things

With two kids and being a two doctor family, my wife and I find it difficult to find the time to watch a whole movie together. There’s always something to take care of and if not, we’d rather be sleeping. However, upon a recommendation from a friend we took the time last night to watch Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things. I’ve included a trailer at the end of the post.

The movie follows Josh and Ryan, two friends who travel cross-country promoting their book, Everything That Remains. These two are also known as The Minimalists, by way of their popular blog. Their story in a nutshell is that they both went from over-stressed and caught-up in excessive consumerism to now preachers of the simple life. The impact on their lives has been dramatic. Here’s an obvious spoiler of the book: they’re both happier now.

The film also interweaves interviews by leading figures in the minimalist movement such as Becoming Minimalist’s Joshua Becker, Life Edited’s Graham Hill, Zen Habit’s Leo Babauta, amongst others.

The film attempts to reinforce the notion that consumer culture is having an extremely detrimental effect on our society. Here are some notable points and quotes I took away.

  • People are “living paycheck to paycheck, living for stuff, but not really living” – Ryan Nicodemus
  • In some way humans are wired for dissatisfaction, it is this instinct that drives us to constantly improve, however it’s also an addiction, and all the consumerism is feeding into it.
  • Most people think this is a normal way to live, that there is no alternative.

Now to be clear, the Minimalists aren’t against consumption, they’re against compulsory consumption. They believe it’s a trapping of contemporary society, where we find value not in who we are, but in the things we own.

They ask themselves constantly of every possession, “Does this add value to my life, otherwise [they] have to let it go.”

What’s the PIMD take on this? I thought the story was compelling. Obviously they can only go so deep in a 80 min. movie but they got their point across. My wife and I felt an immediate impact.

As doctors, we’re sometimes the worst at getting trapped in this cycle of compulsory consumption, in a big way. We delay gratification so long that we’re often starved consumerists when we come out of training. We jump at the chance to buy the nice car, the nice house, the nice clothes, and jewelry.

However, with nothing saved for retirement and a huge amount of student loans, we put ourselves in a very poor position, often living paycheck to paycheck with a good sizable income. Outsiders can’t believe that it can happen to higher income earners, but it’s definitely possible and an easy place to end up (see this post).

It’s all a big hole and a huge trap. Anyone feel like that? I see it in my colleagues, I see it in my friends and I’m trying to do my very best to avoid it. How? By reading, learning, being deliberate about my purchases. (Read this post by PoF.) By watching films like this to remind myself and my wife. It was well worth 80 minutes of my life. Watch it with your partner.

A lot for me to work on for 2017. It’s going to be a great year. I’ll leave with you with the same quote they ended the movie on.

“Love people and use things, because the opposite doesn’t work.” – The Minimalists

 

Minimalism is available on Netflix, Amazon, iTunes.

 

 

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