Minimalism: Summary Review & Takeaways

This is a summary review of Minimalism containing key details about the book.

What is Minimalism About?

In Minimalism, the authors explore their troubled pasts and descent into depression. Though they had achieved the American Dream, they worked ridiculous hours, wastefully spent money, and lived paycheck to paycheck. Instead of discovering their passions, they pacified themselves with ephemeral indulgences—which only led to more debt, depression, and discontent.

Who is the author of Minimalism?

Joshua Fields Millburn is a New York Times–bestselling author, Emmy-nominated Netflix filmmaker, writing instructor, podcaster, and international speaker. Best known as one half of The Minimalists, he is the author of five books, including a critically acclaimed memoir, Everything That Remains.

Ryan Nicodemus, along with his life-long friend, Joshua Fields Millburn, is one-half of the simple-living duo, The Minimalists. The two help their 20 million readers live more intentional lives with less through their website, books, podcast, and documentary film.

Book details

  • Print length: 138 pages
  • Genre: Nonfiction, Self Help, Personal Development

What are key takeaways from Minimalism?

Takeaway #1: There is no correlation between money and happiness.

After a promotion and skyrocketing anxiety, Ryan Nicodemus quit his job. Nowadays, Nicodemus believes there is no amount of money that justifies a stressful job. He and his co-author Millburn experienced the phenomenon of "hedonic adaptation," where their happiness would only last for a short period of time before they wanted more. The book discusses the idea that money can often lead to larger financial commitments and that adopting a minimalist lifestyle can lead to a happier life.

Takeaway #2: To start minimizing, pay off your debts, and declutter your surroundings.

Joshua Milburn spent two years saving up to pay off his debts. He discovered that while decluttering finances is important, so is decluttering the items in his life. He describes a story of his mother when every scrap of work from elementary school was brought home, the mother stored it in a box without opening it. She wanted to hold onto her loved child, but memories and cherished things are not physical objects. It took time but eventually, his mother realized that she has been collecting these objects just to hold onto her son, but these things are not what make his life special. Decluttering creates a physical and mental space to be more open, and free from internal stress.

Takeaway #3: Minimalism is also about putting less junk you put into your body.

From now on, think of your body as a machine if you want it to stay healthy and happy, feed it high-quality fuel. What you eat might taste good at the moment, but it can have long-term consequences for your body. Dairy and bread should be avoided in any regimen. Wheat and milk were only introduced to the human diet after agriculture was created, so our bodies are not designed to metabolize these substances as much as other foods. Cutting back on gluten and lactose-containing foods can also help some people have more energy.

Takeaway #4: Improving your relationships can lead to a better you.

Friendships and relationships are important. If you're feeling isolated or unhappy with your friends, it may be time to reprogram yourself. The first step to change is being willing to change yourself. For example, try being more accepting of those who are different from your own opinion. If more people were willing to befriend those they are less accustomed to, there would be far fewer lonely people in the world. The TARA method introduced in the book is a 4-step process in which one person learns to better Tolerate, Accept, Respect, and Appreciate the other.

Takeaway #5: Don't let work define you.

Your job is not the most important thing in your life. Yet it is constantly pushed on us by the society around us. The question of "what do you do?" is often asked to ask someone's income and not just what they are doing with their life. So to change this, next time your talking with someone, begin by asking them about what they like to do and care about.

Takeaway #6: For more freedom, reduce your dependency on a big paycheck.

Aim to spend less time at a job and become less dependent on a big paycheck. This takes a few steps to achieve. First, create a monthly budget and stick to it. Next, make a list of wants. After that, every month you can divide all your extra money into categories like clothes and entertainment. If you use one budget for a different thing, the latter won't be able to be used. Get the entire household on board with budget planning so everyone feels equally responsible for what is happening. But one should also set up a safety net before completely relinquishing the need for a big paycheck.

Takeaway #7: Make life more purposeful by taking on work that contributes to society.

What are you going to do with your newfound freedom? True purpose comes from a meaningful life that allows for the contribution to society. Activities that are challenging, such as raising children or running a marathon, can make you feel uncomfortable during the activity but may provide more reward and significance. Doing difficult work with a strong sense of purpose can lead to a meaningful life.

What are the chapters in Minimalism?

About The Minimalists
What Is Minimalism?
Be On the Mountain
Clear Your Damn Plate
On Happiness
Letting Go of Sentimental Items
Jealousy Is a Wasted Emotion
Dealing with Overwhelm (Unpublished)
Motion Creates Emotion
Growth Through Minimalism
Minimalism Scares the Shit Out of Me
Minimalism Is Healthy: How I Lost 70 Pounds
30 Is Not the New 20
30 Life Lessons From 30 Years
Giving Is Living
Establishing Deeper Connections with People
Adding Value
Minimalist Family: Start with Yourself
I Quit My Six-Figure Job to Pursue My Passions
Stop Living the Lie; Start Living the Life
Screw You, I Quit!
Minimalist Finances and Budgeting
How To Make a Damn Decision
Never Leave the Scene of a Good Idea without Taking Action
Packing Party
Stop Trying
Minimalist New Year Resolution
You Are Not Your Khakis
Why I Don’t Own a TV
Killing the Internet Is the Most Productive Thing I’ve Ever Done
Killing Time: Over Time I Got Rid of Time
Focus on What’s Important (Unpublished)

What are good quotes from Minimalism?

“Unless you contribute beyond yourself, your life will feel perpetually self-serving. It’s okay to operate in your own self-interest, but doing so exclusively creates an empty existence. A life without contribution is a life without meaning. The truth is that giving is living. We only feel truly alive when we are growing as individuals and contributing beyond ourselves. That’s what a real life is all about.”

“Minimalism is a tool we use to live a meaningful life. There are no rules. Rather, minimalism is simply about stripping away the unnecessary things in your life so you can focus on what’s important”

“Success = Happiness + Constant Improvement”

“We only have a finite amount of time on this earth. It can be spent accumulating monetary wealth, or it can be spent in a meaningful way—the latter of which doesn’t necessarily preclude someone from the former, but the relentless pursuit of riches doesn’t lead to a meaningful life.”

“We weren’t downsizing, we were uprising.”

“Five Values that allow us to live a meaningful life: 1. Health 2. Relationships 3. Passions 4. Growth 5. Contribution”

― Joshua Fields Millburn, Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life

* The summary points above have been concluded from the book and other public sources. The editor of this summary review made every effort to maintain information accuracy, including any published quotes, chapters, or takeaways

Chief Editor

Tal Gur is an author, founder, and impact-driven entrepreneur at heart. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His journey and most recent book, The Art of Fully Living, has led him to found Elevate Society.

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