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How to Get Rid of What Weighs You Down

The argument that we can’t purchase happiness and meaning is at the root of this book by the Minimalists. They’re a couple of inspiring guys from the States who have an interesting escape tale of their own, which I’m sure a lot of the Escape community will be able to relate to:

It all started with a lingering discontent in our lives. A few years ago, as we approached age 30, we had achieved everything that was supposed to make us happy: we had great six-figure jobs, nice cars, big houses with more bedrooms than inhabitants, pointless masses of toys, and scads of superfluous stuff.

And yet with all that stuff, we knew we weren’t satisfied with our lives. We knew we weren’t truly happy. We discovered that working 70-80 hours a week for a corporation and buying even more stuff didn’t fill the void. In fact, it only brought us more debt and stress and anxiety and fear and loneliness and guilt and overwhelm and depression.

What’s worse, we found out we didn’t have control of our time and thus didn’t control our own lives. So we took back control using the principles of minimalism to focus on what’s important in life—to focus on living meaningful lives.

In my own attempt to integrate more ‘minimalism’ into my life, I’ve been trying to use my Kindle more (to cut down on the sickening amount of physical books I find myself accumulating every month). Somewhat by mistake, because I’m still learning how the Kindle works, I downloaded their full e-book after reading their sample chapter. I’m really glad I did.

The sample chapter grabbed me because of the Esc-ish messages that are later explored through the rest of the book.

In summary: the less stuff we have, the less there is to weigh us down. It sounds like common sense, but the book does a great job of talking about how the minimalism philosophy isn’t just about cutting down on physical assets.

It’s about optimising our focus and clarity across so many areas of life: in friendships, in relationships, in work, in health. The holistic meaning of ‘spring-cleaning out that which doesn’t matter’ is thoroughly explored, as well as the dangerous side effects that can come with failing to assess our situations:

We had everything we were supposed to have, everything our culture advertised would make us happy, and yet we weren’t. Worse, we had gotten to the point at which we didn’t know what was important anymore. Getting rid of the clutter in our lives allowed us rediscover these five key areas. Thus, getting rid of our stuff was the initial bite at the apple, allowing us to make room to fill our lives with more meaningful pursuits.

I highly recommend it as a quick-read – it’s a great, easy read for the morning commute. If anyone else has read it or has heard about these guys, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

They also talk about entrepreneurialism and following the activities that make you come alive. If you’re interested in learning how to start a business that can finance your escape, come check out our Startup MBA (you don’t have to have a business idea to join, and there are less than two weeks left to apply).

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  • Artem Terentiev

    These guys are great. I discovered their blog some time at the end of last year. While at the time I was already thinking about a lifestyle change their writing and ideas were a huge inspiration for me. I would even say that they helped to make those first steps and decisions I was putting off.

    I am now reading Josh’s book “As a decade fades” which is about a musician approaching his thirties; he’s going through some personal tragedies and looking for a direction in life. The book’s worth a read, gonna finish it tonight and see how it ends.

    • Adele Barlow

      Thanks Artem. I agree – these guys are great. How was the rest of the “As a decade fades” book? Are the messages pretty similar to their first book?

      • Artem Terentiev

        Do you mean the “Live a meaningful life” book? I haven’t read it, though I think I can guess based on the content of their site.
        The AADF book ends well: a happy end and all that. I’d the say that the most important messages it has are about figuring out one’s life and relationships, and being able to get up after a fall. So yeah, I think some messages are quite similar. You won’t find any decluttering stuff in it though :)

        • Adele Barlow

          Yeah that’s the one. Ah – inspired to read the AADF one now. Thanks for sharing.