Minimalism

Minimalism

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This is everything I own: A MacBook Pro, an iPad, an unlocked iPhone, seven shirts, two pairs of jeans, two jackets, one coat, one sweater, two pairs of shoes, a suitcase, a backpack, some gym shorts, bathroom stuff, socks and underwear. That’s it.
Everything I own can be easily packed into a small suitcase and moved within 30 minutes. There is nothing that I want that I don’t already own. And this is despite owning a six-figure internet business.

In Fight Club, Tyler Durden made the bold claim: “The things you own, end up owning you.” Although I think that’s true, I’m not going to be a zealot here and try to convince you to throw away all of your possessions and go live on a mountain or something. Obviously, you have a life and a home (perhaps a family) and needs, and a radical shift in lifestyle wouldn’t be practical for many of you. I live in a new country every three months, run my entire life from my laptop and rent furnished apartments everywhere I go. I realize that’s not a typical luxury.

But what I am going to try to convince you is that you probably don’t need as much of the stuff you think you do, and that getting rid much of it can be surprisingly liberating as well as make you happier.

Back in 2007 I went broke after graduating university. To deal with this, I sold most of my possessions and moved onto a friend’s couch temporarily. At the time, it was painful. My bed, my desk, a lot of my books and CD’s, pictures, and who knows what else. I remember it felt excruciating. But despite my perception of “selling everything,” I still moved into my friend’s place with two large boxes of crap, a full suitcase of clothes, desktop computer, desk chair, TV stand (don’t ask) and other odds and ends. For the six months I lived on that couch, 75% of everything I owned sat neatly in boxes, untouched.

The next year, with a struggling online business, no money, and nowhere to go, I moved home to live with mom for a while. Since shipping a box full of stuff from Boston to Texas cost $100 at the time, and that was about $100 more than I could afford to spend, I jettisoned even more stuff. On Craigslist everything went: goodbye bicycle, messenger bag, the high end poker chip set I won in a tournament, framed pictures, dumbbell weights, yoga mat, basketball, Playstation 2 and games. It hurt. It’s funny now, but looking back I really felt like a failure because I was selling all of my possessions to keep my business afloat. Like it was this massive sacrifice. Aside from my clothes and suitcase, all I kept was my guitar and a small box of books.

Six months later, I began my foray into the mobile Tim Ferriss-inspired lifestyle. I visited Brazil and moved to Buenos Aires. I took one large suitcase with me and spent hours the days before I left deliberating over how I was going to fit everything I “needed” into one single suitcase for 3-6 months abroad. Which tools do I bring? Which raincoat should I bring? Fitness supplements, external hard drives, extra pair of running shoes, clothes iron and cooking spices all seemed like necessities at the time.

Needless to say, I didn’t use half of the stuff I brought to Argentina and I’ve since rid myself of literally everything I don’t use semi-regularly. These days I live out of a suitcase smaller than most people take on a 4-day beach vacation and a small backpack for my laptop. Most of what I own is expensive, but it was purchased with the purpose of efficiency and utility, not for entertainment, status or whim.

That may sound a little extreme to some of you. And it is. But… and this is a big “but,” so I’m going to bust the italics out: Every step along the way, getting rid of what I didn’t absolutely need was painful, but at no point did I ever miss anything once it was gone. Ever.

The only exception is my guitar, which I left at my mom’s because I didn’t want to travel with it. Aside from that, I don’t remember most of the crap I owned, much less miss it. I couldn’t tell you what hung on my wall, what the color of my couch was, where I bought my television, which video games I owned without thinking very, very hard.

In fact, not only do I not miss anything I got rid of, but the thought of spending money on more of the same possessions instead of life experiences and relationships with others sounds absolutely insane to me now.

Identity Investment and Loss Aversion

There are two psychological factors at play in owning a bunch of stuff and I think both lower the overall quality of life: identity investment and loss aversion.

Identity investment is what Fight Club ribs at when it makes fun of the need to own a bunch of nice stuff, particularly in American culture. Americans are incredibly materialistic, often without even realizing it. A friend of mine recently told me when he was a young professional he spent endless amounts of time crafting his apartment to be the perfect place to bring people — buying the right furniture to represent his identity, decorating and re-decorating. The irony is that he put all of his time and effort into making his apartment perfect to bring people to instead of actually, you know, going out and meeting people to bring to his apartment. He described this as a depressing and miserable period of his life.

This sort of identity investment in possessions is pushed onto us by advertising and it works well. People become attached to the companies that make their car or truck, their computers, their clothing, their appliances, etc. They spent months saving up for an item, spent a lot of mental energy choosing which item “represents” them best, therefore they begin identifying themselves as a “Ford guy,” or a “Mac user,” or whatever.

This becomes part of your identity, no matter how small, that you portray to others in your life. And if you’ve learned anything from this blog, it should be that investing your identity in factors outside of yourself (sexual interactions, what people think of you, how much money you make, stuff you own) isn’t healthy and lowers one’s self-esteem.

The second factor, loss aversion, is a sad fact of life. Psychology has shown that humans perceive the pain of losing something to be much greater than the pleasure of having it. This is true for everything — relationships, possessions, competition — and it’s hard-wired into us. All of us. So that poker chip set I won and swore I had to keep, that crushed me to get rid of, is actually something I haven’t thought about or missed once since discarding it.

The problem with loss aversion is that it motivates us to expend more time and energy maintaining what we already have than the actual pleasure having it gives us merits. To think of it in numerical terms, something may give us 5 points of pleasure, but loss aversion will cause us to perceive losing it to cause us 15 points of pain. So instead of investing 5 points worth of effort to maintain it, we invest 15 points of effort into something that gives us 5 points of pleasure.

Such is the curse of loss aversion. And such is the benefit of being attached to as few things as possible.

Happiness studies consistently bring back a couple of findings: 1) that we derive far more happiness from experiences than we do from possessions, and 2) that we’re better off investing our energy in our relationships than the things we own.

Getting rid of unnecessary possessions can therefore indirectly improve our quality of life through the following ways:

  1. Frees up more time and money to spend on experiences and with people.
  2. Forces one to invest more of their identity in their behavior and attitude and less in objects around them.
  3. Removes the stress of loss aversion and trying to hold on to what one already has.
  4. Saves money (always a stress reducer).

I’m sure one day I will own property and need to furnish a small apartment or house or something, but when I do go back to having permanent possessions, I’m sure that I won’t be invested in them in the way I used to be and the way most people are.

What Can You Get Rid of Today?

Now comes the fun part. Let’s talk about the useless crap YOU have that you can get rid of today. I’m going to start with the easiest objects to trash and move to the most difficult.

  1. 90% of what’s in your storage closet, attic or garage. This is the easy part, the spring-cleaning part. Those old golf clubs you never play with, the rusty toolbox, the beaten up board games, the bicycle pump for the bike you don’t have anymore, the old pool toys, the posters from college, on and on and on. This is the stuff you would have thrown out ages ago except you told yourself, “Well, you never know,” or you stopped because they brought back a really good memory or two. Look, if you haven’t used it in the past three months and don’t think it’s likely you’ll use it in the next three months, toss it. Don’t think about it. Don’t reminisce. Just toss it. You won’t miss it. I promise.
     
  2. CD’s. It’s 2012. Get with the times and put all of your music on your computer. A few years ago I sold my collection of 400+ CD’s for $500. That paid for a plane ticket to Panama. No-brainer.
  3. Video games. About half of my readers just gasped when they saw this. Yes, video games are fun, and they’re nice to blow off some steam every now and then. But most men, particularly young men, play them way too much. Not only are they a massive time-sink, but they waste a lot of money and all but kill your social life. Ask yourself, if you spent half the amount of time you spend playing video games out socializing the past five years or reading books, what would your life be like? Chances are you stomach dropped as soon as you thought about that. If it did, then it’s time to put the Xbox and PS3 on Craigslist. Delete Diablo 3 off your hard drive. Get living.
     
  4. Television. Yeah, there are some good TV shows, but you can watch them on your computer for free whenever you’d like. Forget the television. Having it around only encourages you to get sucked into pointless crap. Like sports? Go watch your favorite games at a sports bar. Watching sports with other people is ten times better, even if they’re total strangers.
     
  5. Books. I’m a bookworm and love the good ole glue and paper as much as anybody. But buy a Kindle or iPad and start downloading your books. This one hurt me a lot and I resisted it for a long time. But I’m glad I did it.
     
  6. Clothes. All you need: 3-4 dress shirts, 3-4 T-Shirts, two pairs of jeans, a nice pair of pants, some shorts, exercise shoes, dress shoes, a coat, a jacket, a sweater, maybe a sweatshirt, socks and underwear. Chances are you own a lot more than that, and chances are you don’t actually wear much more than that. Most people don’t wear 75% of what’s in their closet more than once a month. Why not toss it and simplify? Or even better, donate it.
     
  7. Furniture. Now we’re getting serious: that nice chair you never sit in, the dining room set you touch once a year, the extra table in the office, the bookshelf that held the books you just sold. When you toss your unneeded furniture, you’re likely to find you are able in a house/apartment half the size of your current one. That may be a traumatic realization for some of you, but if you can handle it, then you can use the money you make now to live in a smaller place in a far better location. Remember, experiences bring happiness, not stuff. So what’s going to make you happier, the futon grandma gave you for a graduation present, or living down the street from your favorite concert venue?
     
  8. Car. And if you live in a better location, and live in a city with good public transportation, chances are you don’t need a car anymore. I haven’t owned a car in 9 years and I think it’s very unlikely I’ll ever own one again. My friends think I’m crazy, but they’ve never lived in a city with quality mass transit. If you don’t own much stuff, you can live in the best location in the city and then use buses or metros to get where you need to go. Not only is it far cheaper, far more convenient, and far more enjoyable, but it leaves a much smaller carbon footprint. The only situation I can even fathom wanting a car again is if I one day end up with four little kids and need to shuttle them back and forth to football practice and dance recitals. But let’s cut this article off right there before I start envisioning my soccer mom future a little bit too clearly.

Update: I’d just like to note how amusing some of the reactions to this article were. Get rid of TV and movies? Sure. Get rid of clothes? OK. Car? Soon as I can. Video games? Oh my god Mark, you’ve gone way too far. Sure tells me something about my readership.

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231 Comments

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  • Reply

    Richi

    28 weeks ago

    In your defense, Mark.
    Some of your readers, not all, get very anal(ytical) over this and other articles.

    Like saying your article is wrong because they can’t get rid of everything since they’ve got hobbies…couldnt people be a bit more synthetical and abstract that you mean to keep what is really important, wheter these are objects or relationships, and discard what is only important in an illusory manner? it could all be stated as “quality over quantity”. Is it so hard, people?

    • Reply

      Wayne

      25 weeks ago

      Hello Mark,
      Thanks to a friend who shared one of your other articles I am now a fan. This post rings so many bells for me. I “was” just like your professor friend who created the perfect place, suited to my identity to bring all the new friends I didn’t have (and ladies) I would never meet. Then one day I woke up. Over the course of a couple of years I went from a safely nested, freelance graphic/web designer struggling to make ends meet and keep myself in my “box” for one more month to a guy who’d sold almost everything off to live out of an SUV while road tripping for the one thing that truly gets my blood pumping… photography. I went for as long as I could then had to come back to what some call “reality”. Mainly because I still have some debts etc.

      That said, I’m sharing an apartment with a friend while working a day job for awhile, everything I own fits in my small bedroom with the exception of my truck. I still find I have too much. The desk and chair are cheap finds from craigslist, the bed, is an $80 inflatable, (quite comfy too). As soon as I’m able to get back on the road, these “things” will be gone. They currently feel like weight.

      Kudos to you to living a lifestyle I dream of and am working towards. I’m looking at doing things a little different but one day hope to be a self sustaining traveling photographer with minimal possessions and a heart full of friends, relationships and adventures. Be well and thanks for what you give back to us all. Hope, and knowledge that we’re not all crazy.
      W.

  • Reply

    Deborah

    28 weeks ago

    The timing of my discovery of this article couldn’t be better. I moved a year ago in to an apartment 60% the size of the home I had before my divorce. My stuff has been in storage for the past 16 months. I recently decided to get rid of whatever wouldn’t fit in my 800 sqf foot place. This is the weekend I decided to go over and pitch things and donate what I don’t need/want. I feel energized about tossing things and a part of me is even thinking about the things I’ve brought into my house that I could rid myself of. Oddly, I can’t wait to clean out the storage unit.

  • Reply

    Alba

    27 weeks ago

    Thank you, Mark, for this great article!

    I will be moving within the next year and in order to prevent packing 1000 boxes (I exaggerate ;-)), I really have to get rid of some stuff.

    Books? I will only keep a handfull of books that have a special meaning for me (like children’s books with pictures, I want to read them to my kids one day). Clothes? I already donated some stuff. Car? I don’t own one. And so on.

    Posessions can weigh us down and I prefer spending my money on vacations and other special experiences like learning Spanish and Portuguese, I’m convinced that “life long learning” is a great concept.

    Generally I love your articles, they are witty and thoughtful (nice combination, isn’t it?)

    Greetings from Cologne, Germany!

    Alba

    • Reply

      Rui

      4 weeks ago

      Great call on learning Portuguese :) hehehe, the best way is to come here and spend some time enjoying the scenery, food, drinks and people.

  • Reply

    David

    26 weeks ago

    I just found this article again. You might remember I have a TON of stuff, and it’s weighed me down. I came to Prague with a suitcase, and for the last few years have expanded my stuff to the hallway area.

    Now making the move to a new city, I was proud to take a whole suitcase full of books this afternoon and leave them on the shelves of a local cafe : )

  • Reply

    Randy

    25 weeks ago

    Articles like this make me crazy. The only people who can afford to live like this are people who have the money to buy or replace anything that they throw out or don’t have.

    If you don’t own a “six-figure internet business” then you CAN’T do this and still have a minimally comfortable life.

    He jets around the world and rents FURNISHED luxury apartments in the best part of major cities and tells us how we can live with less, when he can afford to rent or buy anything he needs at any given time. The only way you can live this lifestyle is if you are very rich or homeless. For the other 99 percent of us it is pure unadulterated bullshit fantasy.

    • Reply

      Mark Manson

      25 weeks ago

      I actually started living this way out of necessity in 2009 when I was broke and needed every last dollar I could get.

      So yes, it’s actually quite easy. Believe it or not, you don’t need to be rich to NOT own a car or television.

      Stop making excuses.

      • Reply

        Randy

        25 weeks ago

        Not having a car is NOT an option in many parts of the country, only a very small percentage of the USA has a public transport network that is practical in any sense. If I tried to take one to get to work and school then I would be on the bus for half the day, instead it is a half hour commute each way, plus if you drive a beater it really isn’t very expensive. It seems like you gloss over the majority of Americans that don’t live in the downtown of a major city. Not everyone can make a living producing nothing but hot air and dating advice, some of us need to make actual things that people need to live, and we need tools, work space, and a home to do it from.

    • Reply

      Arthur

      14 weeks ago

      But I do this at making $2,000/month. Of course I’m single, but it’s really not that hard, and it is very freeing on your mind to let you be more effective in life.

    • Reply

      Romo

      4 weeks ago

      Maybe you need to be a little more openminded buddy. You’re response ironically supports the focal point of his blog & articles… You, me or anyone can get rid of a ton of useless $h|t they have & you’d never even know it was gone. It’s a psychological issue.

      If you disagree that’s one thing, but nothing he wrote about is BS, it’s the truth. I by no means have been able to practice what he’s preaching, but I openly admit he’s right & I could survive just fine without most of belongings. I can tell you for a fact that getting rid of 2 flatscreen tvs cuz I refused to pay the $120 per month cable bill, was not only liberating but within 2 wks I honestly barely noticed I didn’t have cable or a tv anymore.

      Sorry dude, but I think you’re in denial.

  • Reply

    Johnny Traunt

    24 weeks ago

    You validate me! Every time I close one of your articles I open two up..feels like this website is saving my life thank you

  • Reply

    Sebastian Finé

    24 weeks ago

    Hi Mark,

    I found your website over an old PU article of yours which is about people quitting too early because of the pain of rejection. I do not like the PU scene but it is a very good pool for self development when it comes to Innergame and sometimes also for life.

    So that is why I really like your attitude towards life.

    @all:

    Regarding this post I am currently thinking about my TV. (Everything else is okay since I am deciding against many stuff for myself lately).

    So I am not watching TV but when it comes down to cold and rainy autumn days, like today, I really like to watch a movie with some of my friends. And I am not coming to a clear solution to this. Maybe you have some further thoughts I may have missed.

    Many greetings from Germany,

    Sebastian.

    • Reply

      Clau

      8 weeks ago

      Toss it and buy a projector (or an iMac).

      I moved to Sweden as student in 2006. I lived in a “corridor” where you have own room and shared kitchen (among 10 people).
      I could not really understand Swedish (at the beginning) so gradually, I focused more on other things (and spent 0 time watching TV).

      When my boyfriend came to Stockholm, we moved to an apartment “without TV”. It´s been 6 years since then, but as Mark says, we never really missed it.
      Get a projector and enjoy the movies (or an iMac that can be multipurpose TV & PC) :)

      Wishes from Tokyo.

      Claudia

      • Reply

        Clau

        8 weeks ago

        Or just go to the cinema :)

  • Reply

    Chippy

    24 weeks ago

    Great article, thanks Mark : )
    Love the Tyler Durden quote- it is my favourite quote from Fight Club. It really is true too, the attachment to stuff can really hold you back.

  • Reply

    Junrel B. Sumagang

    23 weeks ago

    Thank you for posting this blog Mark. I am a nurse at the spinal cord injury unit here in California. No lie, I have a patient right now from Oregon. He owned a nice house, nice cars, nice everything. After his other half passed away, he didn’t think there was any other purpose of keeping everything. He left his home, left his cars, left his nice clothes still in the closet, left everything to come to California. The funny thing is, he enjoyed it! No regrets… He said, he is living LIFE! AMAZING….

  • Reply

    Saurav Keshan

    22 weeks ago

    I came across your blog for the first time, gives me a hope that I bring some change in my life. Great article, will start chopping right away!

  • Reply

    Merlin Sandy

    20 weeks ago

    Great article. I have done this and realize, especially from moving from place to place with my family, that I, meaning me, own too much stuff (everything you can think of) that I don’t really use or even look at, until I move again. As for the family, they own a lot too and it’s a b*tch to move from place to place. And now Christmas is coming, another new Ipad to replace last year’s Ipad for the daughter, a new game console to replace last years model (not broken and works fine) for the boys . . it never ends. Time to clean house . . Thanks!

  • Reply

    Matthew Hernacki

    20 weeks ago

    I totally understand selling of videogames. I’ve been ditching 3 decades worth of gaming consoles and whole collections of games, that I never played anyways. All to pay for the tattoos that I’ve been getting in the last year or so. I’m getting close to being inked from neck to toe and it’s only been a year and 3 months since I started. But I can say that the pain from losing those games and other possessions in no way compares to the feeling of being happy about your body. Do I still play games, yes, single player campaigns for the narrative. I don’t sit in front of the screen for hours playing online. I start whatever game I buy, play it for about a couple hours a day for the weekend. And that’s it. I play them for the story, just like some people will spend 26 hours watching whole seasons of TV shows like 24 or Lost or whatever just for the story. Only I spend about 4-5 and then that’s it until the next cool narrative comes out in 3-4 months.

  • Reply

    Mar Howl

    20 weeks ago

    I’m just planning to get rid of most of my stuff and reading through this article helped me to rationalise why I need to do so and also gave me extra suggestion about what I can get rid of. Such as the dumbells and furniture.

    I think the hardest part will be getting rid of my car, but I don’t plan to do so until July as well. But then, it will only be a burden. I paid about roughly 10k for it 2 and half years ago and I’ll be lucky to get 6K for it now

  • Reply

    Kat

    19 weeks ago

    Hey Mark,
    What about stuff like art supplies? I am constantly experimenting with all types of art supplies, I have built up a fairly large collection. I try to use them all, but they do take up a mass amount of space.
    Kat

    • Reply

      Mark Manson

      19 weeks ago

      No clue. Impossible for me to know how important to you they are. Throw some out and see what happens. :)

  • Reply

    Jorgia

    18 weeks ago

    You’re article can inspire both fear and life changing plans, for someone to value unnessacery objects that most of the population fear they cannot live without, sure you can have a couch to sit on, a car to drive, a tv to watch, but I would like to propose that all these items that you use to cure bordem, or that you fear you cannot live without, were made by people who will never get to sit on a couch, or even see the six clock news on television, but I can tell you they dont need money to seek happiness, nor objects that are used to show other people your wealth or how “in” your new redecorated living room looks. It is easy to turn a blind eye, carry on with the life you live, because you dont understand why you should give up something you have worked hard for or achieved just because someone on the other side of the world doesn’t get to experience it, instead they get to have an unbreakable family bond, trusted friendships because they can see the bigger picture, they understand the need for human contact, happiness is not in the beholder of someone that has everything, but someone that has nothing, that is the true way to experience every breath you take, it lets you learn to savour every moment, because you know you are making true memories, not something you watch on television through someone else’s eyes but through your own.
    Share your hobbies with your friends and families, if books are what entertain you then share the gift of what someone else had been inspired to write to someone you love, let them have the same memories as you did as you read those lines that caught your breath or made you unable to put the book down, not everything has to be seen as being “discarded”, but shared to bring other people happyness. In my opinion I think to indulge yourself is to indulge others, giving is the secret, if you have experienced something great then you will always hold that memory, give it to another to spread what you have been witness to.
    The world should not be wasted by watching something in television or your phone, it should be experienced, you should be able to witness beautiful and unforgettable sunrises in different parts of the world, share a greeting in a different language to a complete stranger, feel the first falling of snow melt between your fingers.
    As a nineteen year old I have witnessed much, and I know alot of people will shrug and comment that u am not old enough have lived, to have experienced what they have, but every life’s different, I was on the verge of taking my own life, yet I possessed so many object that I had thought had meaning, when I realised they didnt, the only person that can witness their own dreams come true is yourself, I do what I love, and I live with the handful of belongings I own which I know can bring and share memories, emotion and total love for the life I now live. The realisation that I needed to change where I was heading was not a shock to the system, it did not ignite fear in me, it was just a deep knowing that I needed to rid myself of things I did not need, and rejoice in the things that matter the most.
    I love this article, it makes me think there is hope in the world for others to do the same as I did, and I sincerely hope people can see what I can, its something that truly lifts a weight off your shoulders, even if you disbelieve it does, just remember, every breath you take you are dying, so why not make the road to death worth living?

  • Reply

    John Cooper

    18 weeks ago

    You only need something when you fear of losing it. If you think about it, you don’t need much to live (especially when you’re lucky to be born in the west). I used to be very materialistic and I feared losing a lot, but now I think differently. I’m pro life experiences. Life experiences over materials.

    Actually, you don’t need much. Think about it. You can own not much and still be good looking and trendy. For example, you can buy a ’96 BMW 3-series convertible for €3500. A cool looking car for a cheap price. And if you have patience, you can find a good one for €2500. Never buy new cars. Within the first 3 years, a new car will lose 50% of its value.

    An other example: instead of buying a house for €250.000 – €350.000 and pay a mortgage for 30 years, buy a studio for €70.000. Live with your parents for a few years and you can easily have your own property within 5 – 10 years.

    Instead of buying watches for €250. Go online and buy same looking watches for €15. I do club game at least 3 times a week and it doesn’t have to cost much. I go there to pick up women, not to drink alcohol. So I just DON’T drink. I only dance and that’s free.

    If you like to travel, ignore hotels and stay in hostels. It’s cheaper and more fun.

    You can easily have an interesting fun lifestyle without paying much for it. You just need a shift in mental thinking and you should also give less shit about what other people might think of you. Do you really need a €50.000 car? You would be surprised how many people actually have nothing, but everything is from the bank. They pay everything on loans. Even for refrigerators…

  • Reply

    Pol S

    18 weeks ago

    I am ashamed to admit that what is keeping me holding onto to my wardrobe (and it doesn’t even have all the essentials you mentioned anyway) is not that I am particularly fond of clothing.

    No. It is that I am really, really, terribly lazy about doing laundry.

    Great article though!

  • Reply

    Dan

    16 weeks ago

    Mark, I’m with you 100%. The happiest I’ve ever been was living out of a backpack, traveling the world. You don’t need stuff. And F the joneses. I stopped watching TV years ago. This year I gave up watching sports online & following it altogether. Man, I wish I was living in different countries every 3 months. Sounds like an amazing experience. Fortunately or unfortunately I’ve already made it to Soccer Dad status. Have 2 beautiful kids and wouldn’t trade it, but some day…. I’ll get back out on the open road. Actually working on a business that is mobile right now. Yes, a real business. ;) Safe travels & Keep up the good work!

  • Reply

    Jordan

    14 weeks ago

    At one point in my life, this article was my homepage for over a year.

    I was a semi-hoarder and would keep a bunch of crap around the house “just in case” I needed it one day.

    I now live a clutter-free, light weight existence and I have you to thank for that. Everything that I own can fit into the back of a small car and it feels fantastic.

    I’m still holding off on getting rid of my favourite books (I’ve got my physical collection down to about ten) but I can tell that a Kindle is likely in my near future. The technology on those suckers has improved a lot and I know that it’s drastically more space conscious than lugging around a dedicated bag of books every time I move to a different country.

    Thank you for the inspiration, and for writing content that deserves to act as my browser’s makeshift background for hundreds of days.

  • Reply

    Jonathan

    11 weeks ago

    I’ve given away the TV long ago, and I can likely get rid of all of the books, and I’ve never played video games. While I ride mass transit to and from work every day, I can’t imagine going to Costco to buy 2 weeks of groceries without having a car to haul it home again, or taking my snowboard up to a ski area for a day of recreation without a car, at least where I live now, so I’m thinking I will likely continue to want to have a car. That said, I think there are many good points about this article I can apply to my own life. I think his point about worrying more about having a nice place to entertain guests can take more energy than actually pursuing relationships–I could likely use and apply that point to my life. Thanks for the article, I think I will think about it with the intent of figuring out what is essential to my life, and how *things* may be contributing to being out of balance for my higher goals and objectives.

    • Reply

      Rui

      4 weeks ago

      Yeah, i do think like you, but i also started thinking that maybe it would actually be cheaper to rent a car for those occasions instead of owning one just in case. Where i live, and for my car, i have a 700€ expense for insurance, 250€ for taxes each year, plus whatever maintenance the car needs. At the present time, i do need a car as i do more than 2000kms per month, but as soon as that stops i’m considering at least trading for a cheaper car… My point is that sometimes it’s not a black or white decision, there are a few gray options that might suit the specifics of each one’s life’s :)

  • Reply

    GK

    10 weeks ago

    Hi Mark,

    I am so glad I found your web site. It was a pure accident. As I read most of the articles I realize that I have never read such honest and to the point writing in such a long time. You are doing a great job and I would be following to your blog.

    Enlightening indeed.

    GK

  • Reply

    F. C.

    7 weeks ago

    Bit late to the party, but thought I’d leave a comment, since this is the article that has had the most impact on me, so far.

    I actually had a pretty negative reaction when I first read it; I felt really upset, and thought “This is BS!”. Then I started reading the comments, and one of them made remember a period of my life, around 5~6 years ago. We’re 4 in our family (parents and a brother), and at that time, we had some construction going on at our apartment, so we rented a small furnished apartment (~500 sqft) for a month

    I packed only the essentials (clothes, toiletry, laptop, 2 books and my favorite mug), thinking “whatever else I need, I’ll just go back and get it”. Turns out, not only did I not visit the house during that month, I actually felt pretty happy with not having a lot of personal stuff. Of course, I also felt quite happy when I got back to my stuff a month late, but I guess there’s a middle ground somewhere. I’m moving out in a couple of months, to an even smaller apartment, so I probably really needed this advice.

  • Reply

    Bastiaan

    5 weeks ago

    Hello Mark,

    This is a great article. I just discovered your blog and I am pleased to hear that you live a minimalistic lifestyle. 3 years ago I owned a house and a lot of material possessions. One day I decided to quit my job, sell my house & stuff and buy a one way ticket to Bangkok. This is 3 years ago and I am still traveling the world and I met the love of my life along the way. Now we travel together and we are starting up online businesses.

    If I see people taking loans to buy a new car, a new TV of something similar It always makes me feel that I don’t have that desire. Owning hardly anything has made me much more happy and it taught me my true values in life. My girlfriend and I are now sponsoring 2 little kids in Al Salvador and we are going to volunteer in South East Asia next year. We are able to do this because of our minimalistic lifestyle. Being minimalistic gives you so much freedom.

    Thanks for this article and I will keep following your site. My girlfriend and I recently started our own self development website. If you’re interested you can check it out.

    Cheers, Bastiaan

  • Reply

    Stephanie

    5 weeks ago

    Written like a true privileged white male.

    • Reply

      Mark Manson

      5 weeks ago

      Commented like a true bigot.

    • Reply

      Sheri Nichols

      4 weeks ago

      Ooh….the author did not like your comment. I did not read all of the article so I don’t really have an opinion, but that hit him hard…interesting.

      • Reply

        Mark Manson

        4 weeks ago

        Not really. I get comments like that periodically and I make sure to call it out for what it is: bigotry. When men comment on my dating articles with derogatory comments about women — singling them out because of their gender or race — I call them out on it. When Stephanie claims that my views are only my views because I’m a white male, I call her out for the exact same reason: bigotry.

        I am close with quite a number of women and minorities who live the exact same lifestyle as I do and prescribe to the same beliefs expounded upon in this article. A comment such as Stephanie’s is demeaning to not only me — by limiting my views to my skin color and my gender — but it’s also demeaning to all of the amazing women and minority friends I have who live like this as well.

        Feminism has truly reached a sad state when some of its proponents feel justified in writing off any idea they don’t like as “white male privilege.” They’re practicing the exact same bigotry that they claim to be fighting against.

  • Reply

    Michelle

    4 weeks ago

    All I can say is that this article has given me the push I needed to sell my crap that I have been contemplating doing for a couple months now to actually start my online business. Thank you!

  • Reply

    Antia Cano-Malpelli

    4 weeks ago

    It is a great idea!.. Thank you for sharing… It will help me a lot on giving away many things that I have kept because of sentimental reasons.

  • Reply

    BV

    3 weeks ago

    Mark,

    Thank you for the article. I do understand that I cannot live your life and have a lifestyle like yours (not sure if want to) but this article has motivated me to get rid of a lot of stuff at home. Book Shelves, old furniture and kitchen stuff and basic junk that I dont need. One rule that I adopted a few years ago was, when I buy a new shirt, pant or shoe, I get rid of one of what I have. That has helped me keep my closet small and forces me to be in shape, cause I dont like buying new clothes unless I want it.

    Happy travels and happy writing. I look forward to more articles.

  • Reply

    Nicole

    2 weeks ago

    First off … I only just discovered your articles and I am reading through them each day, finding them very inspirational!
    Now to this article. I love it! I don’t think it’s extreme at all, a lot of people live with a lot of crap they just don’t need!

    We had our belongings in storage for over a year when we went overseas and when we came back, I thought, I have no idea what’s in the storage room, other than obvious things such as our fridge, couch, etc. I thought, I could throw out the two dozen boxes in there and I would never know what was in there. If I could live without all these things for over a year, I can live without them forever!

    I threw out so much, one day I will throw out the TV, but I’m not ready for that yet, but you have inspired me with such true words – they are a time waster.
    We do have computers now where we can select what we want to watch rather than getting sucked in by a lot of crap on TV!

    Thanks!

  • Reply

    Marianne

    2 weeks ago

    This seems a bit radical, but the overall premise is sound. We surely can do without much of what we have, and enjoy greater peace of mind without the baggage to babysit.

    This resonates with me for two reasons. First, we know we can’t take our stuff with us when we die. The bible teaches that we can’t return to heaven if we love our possessions more than God.

    Secondly, with 4 children I’ve realized that spoiling them with “things” does not do them (or you) any favors. What they really need is more of a parent’s time. Spending money on shared experiences is more lasting and meaningful.

    Makes me want to rethink my shopping habits and not buy things that aren’t absolutely necessary!

  • Reply

    Thomas

    2 days ago

    Great Article!
    I can’t imagine going to Costco to buy 2 weeks of groceries without having a car to haul it home again, or taking my snowboard up to a ski area for a day of recreation without a car, at least where I live now, so I’m thinking I will likely continue to want to have a car. That said, I think there are many good points about this article I can apply to my own life. I think his point about worrying more about having a nice place to entertain guests can take more energy than actually pursuing relationships–I could likely use and apply that point to my life. Thanks for the article

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