Once I sacredly believed in minimalism. I may have scratched someone’s eyes who misapplied it. I believed that Mr Minimalism would save my ass from anxiety—it would give me peace, so I started following different gurus.
In 2013 (this year was the most painful), while searching for answers, I found two guys named Joshua and Ryan calling themselves The Minimalists.
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Since starting their website, in 2010, they have been fortunate enough to establish an audience of more than 20 million people. The Minimalists have been featured throughout the media and spoken at Harvard Business School, Apple, and Google.
However, the more I became interested in the work of The Minimalists, the deeper I dug, the more doubts arose for me.
The irony is that they opened my eyes. Oh yes, thanks to them, I understood that minimalists are annoying. To be clear, here are thirteen reasons why I don’t believe in them.
Ten reasons why The Minimalists are annoying
1. The meaning of life doesn’t depend on how many things you have and not on how much anxiety you have, but how much compassion you have for other people.
These guys state that they helped over 20 million people live meaningful lives with less. Therefore, they offer people to get rid of stuff, because apparently the fewer things you have, the less anxiety and destruction you can get. That sounds like a clever idea, right? But please answer, isn’t it possible to create a meaningful life “with more?” Oh yes, I have met inspiring personalities who live meaningfully and the way they want, despite having many things.
What an example can I give here… Mhhmmm… You may be surprised, but Keanu Reeves inspires me. Why him? Have you seen an online viral video showing how Keanu Reeves gives up his subway seat for a lady?
Keanu Reeves is a good guy. He is clearly not Christ, but he doesn’t exalt himself (as minimalists), so he doesn’t write on his Instagram account: “I help people live a meaningful life.” Maybe Keanu Reeves is so inspiring because he has only a few things? Let’s look inside and out of Keano Reeves’ house!
What’s more, Keanu Reeves has a motorcycle. And he even has… He is not only starring in movies but shows the world an example of how a successful person should behave and…
Plus, Keanu Reeves experienced a lot of suffering. At a young age, he lost many close people. Despite having a lot of fans, some people blame him for some nonsense. For example, many people don’t like the fact that he has found a life partner older than him. So I’m sure Keanu is experiencing a lot of stress. But this doesn’t prevent him from behaving in a way that inspires me and others. Oh yes, Keanu inspires me more than The Minimalists and…
“Alex, why are you trying to find fault with The Minimalists? Why touch the topic of minimalism at all?” one of their fans will ask. As you ask, let’s continue discussing why minimalism is not an intelligent tool in pursuing goals.
2. Sometimes, minimalists give things more meaning than materialists.
As you know, materialists dream about things. Their mood depends on the number of items they have. But the minimalist’s well-being depends on how many things he doesn’t have. Both a minimalist and a maximalist think about things, and sometimes the minimalist is more stressed than the materialist because when the materialist buys something, he then forgets it after putting it in the attic. And a minimalist not… He will tell others about the things he has thrown away and which he has not… And that will worry him and the people around him…
3. Minimalists write off psychologists, psychological practices.
Oh yes, ask your psychologist to provide a list of ways to discover peace and how to get rid of anxiety. I doubt he will list minimalism (as a tool) on his list. Minimalists, however, believe that minimalism is the best tool for achieving happiness. Minimalists, it seems, have not read books on psychology. After all, not all problems are related to things?
In a word, without delving into human problems, they apply a single pattern of action to everyone: If you feel bad, the problem lies in things!
4. Minimalists steer people in the wrong direction, creating illusions; supposedly getting rid of things resolves problems and brings happiness, solves stress problems.
When I was young and stupid, things seemed to affect my life. That’s why I wanted them. But then I started giving them up. But it didn’t give me happiness; on the contrary, it caused me stress. Why? Let’s look at a victim of minimalism named Daria.
Daria used to think about what to buy, and now she is wondering what to get rid of… Thinking about what to get rid of also causes anxiety. Is this the solution to the problem? Minimalists recommend: Keep looking through your stuff, and by picking them up, think, “Do I need it, do I really need it?” If I had to do this, I’d go crazy! Because thinking about what you don’t need is the same as thinking about what you need. And, of course, many will begin to argue, but two men of The Minimalists themselves said, “Living a simple life is a lot of work.”
So if there’s a lot of work, why choose minimalism? Or is it more important to discover happiness in chaos?
“Alex, you are a fool, you didn’t understand anything,” a fan of Minimalists will be outraged, adding, “Nicodemus from minimalists once said: ‘As a minimalist, it’s not that I don’t have a lot of stuff, it’s that everything I own serves a purpose or brings me joy.’”
Yes, I understand that Nicodemus promotes joy, but I propose reconstructing the given phrase… This is what we would get: “… it’s not about that I have a lot of staff, it’s that everything I own serves a purpose or brings me joy.”
Do you see the words marked in bold? Did you understand my thought?
Proponents of minimalism claim to help alleviate ADHD and anxiety. They state that the less distractions you have, the more productive you can be. But productivity mostly depends not on what surrounds you but on how you reach things that you have.
Time management guru Dick Tracy would agree with me. After all, he knows that if he wants to achieve something, he must learn to delegate work and manage projects. To be fast, you should use the range of tools used by professional project managers.
Although maybe I’m wrong? However, no one encouraged me to throw things into the trash in the project management training. And rightly so, because to the hell, productivity isn’t about minimalism!
On the other hand, I suggest pointing out that Nicodemus somehow talks mostly about himself. Everything must bring him joy, and what about other people, to them not?
He could say yes, “It’s not about that stuff I have or not, it’s about other people.”
The Dalai Lama, who has many things, should be mentioned here. Even in the shadows where he performs processions, there are many candles, flowers, etc.
Count how many flowers and candles you see. Do they interfere with his life?
The Dalai Lama is an emotionally strong person and knows that the amount of right thoughts in his mind, not things, provides peace!
By the way, precious The Minimalists, do you know who the happiest man in the world is?
The happiest man is considered to be Matthieu Ricard, 60, a French monk; his level of mind control is astonishing, and the upbeat impulses in his brain are off the scale.
Look at this picture more attentively!
As you can see, it has pillows, a stack of icons, and so on. But all this doesn’t interfere with the title assigned to him.
5. Minimalism can help, but only at the beginning of the path of self-discovery. Therefore, it will be difficult for you to find older people who promote minimalism.
Imagine leaving home with all your belongings. You are going to live on an island. Your mobile phone, computer stay at home, and you are left alone with yourself. What do you think will happen? You will feel that you need to take one more step. In this case, you will have to take other steps that The Minimalists don’t talk about. Sure, they’ll suggest cleansing your head of thoughts, but what will happen next? After I cleared my head of thoughts, I had to move further. In the next step, I found one more answer, then I dove even deeper, then emerged like a phoenix beyond the standard mindset.
Meanwhile, The Minimalists still focus on things. For 12 years (they created their website in 2010), they have been trying to clean up their rooms from unnecessary stuff. They keep saying, “There will always be something to refuse.” Why don’t they say, “Everything has its limits, and you don’t have to refuse everything?”
“Why to lose clients if you can keep them on the needle for the rest of your life?” the manager of The Minimalists responsible for the sales department will say.
Don’t you believe it? Find out what Jordan Peterson thinks about it. Here’s his phrase: ‘The pursuit of happiness is a pointless goal.’ So it turns out that The Minimalists are stuck in the initial self-education phase. Oh, yeah, a good friend of mine calls minimalism a fetish. Steve Jobs loved this fetish. Take a look at his house, its design. Yes, he was a creative person. It’s a pity he left us, but minimalism didn’t save him from cancer. When we talk about the value of life, it turns out that there are things far more important than minimalism.
6. The Minimalists don’t understand reality.
See how children live in India.
These kids don’t have practically any stuff, and they wouldn’t understand what these guys with bags full of money are saying. Their phrases are not fun for kids or even moms.
Not to mention the people who have served in prison.
Do you remember the man calling himself a Manager?
He’s already served his time. He currently lives in a small apartment with only a kettle for making tea. Even without trying, he could gain the title of the minimalist. However, I doubt if he is happy. It’s difficult for him. Do you know how hard it is to get a job for such a person? But you can find such people not only in Lithuania. There are millions of such people in America!
The question is, what is the audience for minimalist ideas?
I didn’t like their ideas when I was a student; I couldn’t afford it after all. Although I wanted a guitar, I couldn’t buy it. I had nothing. When I lived in England, I didn’t even have a bed! For sleeping, I bought a used mattress for 15 pound-sterling. And I didn’t even have the internet. There wasn’t even a chair! I ate at the restaurant where I worked. Even though I didn’t have any stuff, I still lacked happiness. In other words, you can live in an empty room and still feel bad because you can’t control your emotions.
7. Minimalists are maximalists in disguise.
Check out their Instagram account.
The Minimalists constantly publish new posts, photos. I can’t keep up with them! Sometimes I don’t post a photo for an entire month!
Let’s compare our accounts!
Compared to them, I’m a super minimalist!
Believe me; it’s not easy to get as many fans as they do. The guys put in a lot of work because they see life in a maximalistic way.
I imagine what big photo banks they have. Is it necessary to have so much? Appetites seem to grow not in hours but… I see these men lack moderation…
For example, they could use the same photo multiple times. Or they could use photos in a more subtle way—that’s what I would call minimalism! When I was running a design company (Adf/Adface), I had to create an image for companies with a minimalist image. As a result, we rarely used photos. Because minimalism requires minimalism, and The Minimalists, unfortunately, don’t understand it well.
They are currently preparing for a new photoshoot; they are getting dressed and making great hairstyles. Note that the men are doing very well. Better than me.
And then they’ll take the time to select photos. They will open a photo editing program. Then they will put in one, second, and third social accounts, and… No, I don’t envy them because I also have a lot of photos, but I’m not saying I’m a minimalist. And they state so. That is, they are not sincere, and that is their biggest mistake. And telling the truth is important?
Or are they so blind that they cannot see their mistakes? Maybe… If they can’t see, I’ll share some tips with them.
Dear minimalists, real minimalists don’t need 500,000 followers. You already have enough. Oh yeah, a true minimalist doesn’t need a lot of views and likes. A true minimalist doesn’t have to please his readers. And a true minimalist would never, do you hear me—he would never name a book “16 rules for living with less.”
As you can see, minimalists propose to learn not three, not five, but 16 rules! Hey, The Minimalists, 16 rules, it’s too many! For example, Jordan Peterson has written a book called “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos.” And there are fewer rules in the Bible—damn it, there are only 10!!! But no one calls the Bible minimalism, although the rules are better thought out!
Give one rule, minimalists!
Although not, even one rule is too much. Oh yeah, when someone pushes you one rule, put it into that person’s ass. Because the wisest faith to follow is not to have rules. Anyway, these are not rules we should care about, but values. We are humans, not dogs, obeying orders! Damn it, how old is humanity, and it’s still waiting for the rules!
Because a person can’t be a minimalist in everything. They can be maximalists because they like to eat different fruits. Maybe they like kissing, wanting a hundred kisses every day. What’s wrong with that?
8. The Minimalists claim that they have cleared their surroundings of unnecessary things that don’t correspond to reality.
Let’s take a closer look at The Minimalists’ house.
Here is a tour of one of the houses of minimalists.
Forgive me, my dear, but I have an arrogant question… Why does a person need four pillows? And even more, what is the fur doing under the chair??? I have no fur, much less on the floor! Some kind of fetish. Why does one need carpets that collect dust?
Let’s move further!
But this photo surprised me the most:
So I have a question, Ryan Nicodemus, why do you need two sofas? I never had two sofas in one room!
Get me right; I’m not going to demean The Minimalists. However, I want their readers to understand how they can have two sofas in a small room and call themselves minimalist. If Ryan Nikodem is lying to himself that he is a minimalist and if two sofas in one room help him find happiness, then I suggest creating a new philosophy called “Two Sofas.” Sign up for the “Two Sofas” event to reduce stress! “Two sofas” will reduce anxiety, bring happiness, and so on.
On the other hand, there are not enough reasons to cling to the photos I showed above. Everything is okay there. But minimalists hide their recording studio. Why don’t they show it? In their article called: “How to start a podcast,” they showed us this photo:
The paradox is that minimalists have not been able to fit into 6,000 words when talking about the beginning of a podcast! After all, it’s about the beginning of the podcast, not the secrets of professional studio gear! Damn it; I just needed a mobile phone to record my voice and share it with my fans! Over 100,000 people on TikTok watch my videos, but I don’t use expensive equipment! I only use the Galaxy and the basic recording app I got with the Android system. All this is enough to get you started! So who needs two monitors? So if I were to write an article about the beginning of my podcast, I would only need five sentences!
I suggest you read their article on podcasts—you will break your legs!
9. The Minimalists asked me to leave an e-mail to receive their book on financial independence.
The Minimalists want my e-mail… Because the ones they have are enough for them. When I left them my e-mail address, they sent me a book on financial independence:
Pay attention to their logo, which I made bigger because it was two times smaller. Apparently, they were ashamed to put their logo on the book’s cover?
In this book, they state, “While we all need to make money to live—and there’s certainly nothing wrong with earning a great salary—”
I agree with this idea. This is probably the only sentence that has logic.
And put me on the cross for honesty, but I don’t think The Minimalists can teach financial independence. If they were financially independent, they wouldn’t offer to buy their concerts?
“You don’t understand it, Alex, being on stage is not a job for us,” Joshua will say, who for some reason posted a section on their page “Hire us to speak.” This section is not available on my site! I don’t offer: “Buy Alex Monaco to speak.” Hell, if you’re asking to be paid for your performances, it is a job, right? It’s completely confusing… But I really believe that The Minimalists are capitalists who managed to jump into minimalist sheepskin to sell more products.
Personally, I’m not looking for financial independence, so I have no purpose in proving to others that it’s achievable. I won’t want to retire when I’m old. My father is still working, and I will follow in his footsteps. However, I will work a little because I know what to do to work little but earn a lot.
10. Minimalists behave cowardly. They encourage you to run away from your natural emotions, which is not wise.
I used to think that if I wasn’t feeling well, it meant I had problems. However, after delving into human physiology, psychology, emotions, I realized that nothing is embarrassing about emotions. We are human, so we experience different emotions periodically, which is worth admiring. This means that the more emotions you experience in your daily life, the more alive you are. A person’s “vitality and confidence” should be above the desire to escape from emotions or to hide them under their four pillows. But The Minimalists avoid emotions and challenges… They are afraid to take on challenges and to admit that minimalism has not solved stress problems. But again, it’s normal to feel stress, and it’s stupid to prove to others that you got rid of the stress permanently, and I would say it leads to hypocrisy.
11. Minimalism is toxic; it spreads negativity.
Who do you think exactly advertised the devil and his image? Who conceived the concept of hell and envisioned that we would all be afraid of entering it? Where is your answer?
You know the answer…
If it were not for the Bible and the people who created it, if it were not for Christianity, we would not be afraid of hell. If not for them, we wouldn’t be thinking about it, and we wouldn’t be seeing these horrible pictures. We simply wouldn’t know about the devil with horns if the “advertisers of God and the devil at the same time had not told us about it.” In other words, “The riders, prophets of God” spread anxiety. Although it seems that popularizing God was a good thing, it brought doom, stress, and fear with it.
Minimalists do precisely the same thing.
The problem with minimalism is that by advertising the downsides of things, they also spread anxiety. When they talk about happiness without things, they are forced to talk about evil in order to motivate people to act.
“But, Alex, you do the same! You say that one needs to strive for something more, it’s you who scares me!” someone will say. Well, I’m constantly accused of it by those who have not read my works. Because my position is different. In my articles, I propose to get along with fear. When I propose to learn to manage emotions, I mean to take fear by the hand and go together. I’m not offering to run away from fear. I also suggest experiencing the full spectrum of emotions daily.
Nevertheless, I propose to pursue both money and peace. I think a person needs everything. Every day they should spend time with themselves, friends, things, money, meditation, children and a loved one, and even be able to watch TV, but shortly. The more they manage to experience every day, the better. But to keep up with it all…
12. They wanted to make more money in the past, but today they want more likes.
The 2021 movie “The Minimalists: Less Is Now” tells how they once served money when they were young. They still couldn’t get enough, so they worked, worked, worked. In the past, they worked to buy new items they didn’t need, and today they’re working on a number of followers they don’t need. But it seems that they are working no less today. It’s not easy to shoot a movie, supervise a Patreon account, and drive around concert halls. Although the goal has changed, our heroes’ hunger has not waned. So they made another movie that is about what the first movie was about. It seems people are starting to understand what’s going on, so the feedback is negative:
13. Ryan and Joshua are incredibly negative people.
Positive people see good things in everything. But Joshua and Ryan only focus on the dark side of consumerism. But consumerism is related not only to things but also to watching movies. Since millions of people are addicted to Netflix, they pay their monthly subscription. As long as people pay for entertainment, Netflix has grown so big it can distribute minimalism documentaries. So is it bad? After all, Netflix released their own movie, “The Minimalists: Les Is Now!” So consumerism is not only related to bad things! So why talk only about the dark side?
Or maybe I also should talk about the minuses? Let’s try! Minimalists say that you should only devote your time to what is necessary. I will encourage you not to watch “The Minimalists: Less Is Now.” Because without this movie, humanity can survive. This movie is bad, bad, bad! Ironically, The Minimalists who help people get rid of what they don’t need are creating products themselves that take people’s time…
… It’s tough to understand where Ryan and Joshua got so much negativity from… But I will not follow their example… Although I criticized them, I will also tell you about the white side. For example, I admire Ryan and Joshua for their ability to sell themselves. They are talented marketers. And also, I’m glad they found their other halves, and one of them has a daughter. It’s wonderful. My words are sincere.
It’s important to emphasize: This article is not intended to humiliate someone. So I wrote a letter to them.
A letter to The Minimalists’ team
The Minimalists don’t stop and continue their work, but I suggest you think about new directions. I look forward to your new work that makes more sense. In the next movie, I propose to talk not only about minimalism; after all, there are many other tools for achieving happiness. Because it looks like you are crossing out all the other methods. Don’t be conservative! Your minimalism doesn’t suit everyone, so give different ideas for those who don’t. And finally, try them yourself. Don’t be stubborn and experiment.
I remind you that sometimes I use minimalism. Therefore, for those who think I hate minimalism, I can say, “You are wrong!” Oh yeah, I’m not against minimalism, but I’m against using it 24/7. For example, I currently live in Nice, renting a minimalistic apartment with few items. In other words, this time can be called a break from what I have in my hometown. This means you don’t have to throw things away, but you can leave them for a while and blend in with minimalism. And then you can go back and enjoy things if you like. Or you can throw them away. And if you want, then buy as much as you want, so let it be. The most important thing is to go easy with it. Oh yes, I propose to bridge the gap between materialism and minimalism. Because wise people say: The most important thing is balance!
This is my opinion!
If you have a different opinion—go ahead! Write me a letter, invite me to a podcast, or an interview. If I receive a letter be sure that I will read it and really won’t get angry for your truth! I’m not here to lie that I’m perfect; I can laugh at myself and think it’s one of my most outstanding achievements.
More to read:
New Yorker: “The pitfalls and the potential of the new minimalism”
Quora: “Minimalism is bad or not?”
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