Can having less make you more happy?

What this documentary reveals about finding happiness

By: Megan Christopher

Minimalism seems to be all the craze lately and coming from an American consumerist culture, it's quite refreshing. The film, Minimalism: A Documentary about the Important Things, brings attention to our obsessive culture that constantly bombards us with messages that we are not enough and must continue to acquire more in order to feel fulfilled. Watching this film opens the viewer's eyes to the opposite side of that pendulum and argues the importance of having less.

This documentary follows various people from businessmen to creatives who felt that there was more to life than trying to chase freedom and buy happiness through material objects.

According to their website, "Minimalists don't focus on having less, less, less; rather, we focus on making room for more: more time, more passion, more experiences, more growth, more contribution, more contentment. More freedom [...] so we can make room for life's important things—which actually aren't things at all."

The duo behind this mini-movement are Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Millburn who star in and produce the film. These two friends turned to Minimalism nearly a decade ago during intense struggles and loss their lives. They had both spent years working their way up the corporate ladder, acquiring more things and appeared to be successful and happy. So why wasn't their supposed success making them happy? This was the question they set out to answer.

The documentary is just one avenue among many others to spread the word about Minimalism. The duo has a website with more information, a podcast about applying these minimalist lessons to your daily life, and a couple of books geared towards "living more deliberately."

This documentary may offer new and revolutionary ideas for some, but more likely, it presents truths we all have buried deep inside ourselves. "Money can't buy happiness," and I'd be rich if I had a dollar every time I heard that expression, yet we like to deny that it's true. This documentary peels away the layers of lies we grew to accept somewhere along the way about success and happiness. It reminds us of the important things like human connections and being present in this fleeting moment.

We seem to be trapped in this cycle of striving for more things and more success rather than being content with what we have and present during the process. In the film, this idea is highlighted by Sam Harris, PhD, neuroscientist: "You have this thing that you were obsessed about but then the new version comes out, and now you no longer care about the one you have. In fact, the one you have is a source of dissatisfaction."

While there are extremes to Minimalism that may not appeal to everyone, there are aspects of the movement that can be beneficial to all. "When I heard about Minimalism it wasn't about just getting rid of my stuff. It was about taking control of my life and stop being told what to do and actually deciding what I wanted to do." This, said by Ryan Nicodemus in the film, can most likely resonate with any viewer. Minimalism is about living deliberately and with intention and this film illustrates exactly that.

To find out more about this documentary and Minimalism, check out their website here.