Minimalism: Love people. Use things.

Last summer my wife and I were partially successful at simplifying our lives.

We moved from a 3000 sf home in suburbia to a 1700 sf condo in the middle of town, cut out 40 minutes of drive time and replaced it with a 10 minute walk to work along a fitness trail surrounded by a park that crosses a river. Instead of hearing cars on a busy street we hear the honks of geese along with a variety of bird calls, all “twitter-pated” that it is Spring once again.

I say “partially successful” because one of our goals was to get rid of all the “extra stuff” around us that had somehow accumulated after 23 years in the same house. We had a garage sale, got rid of a couch, sold the lawnmower, packed the cars and made countless trips to Goodwill, and still ended up with more boxes than we could fit into 1700 square feet.

Actually, we still aren’t sure how much will fit into our condo. One room is full of stacked boxes, and I usually avert my eyes whenever I walk past so I don’t get depressed thinking about how much work it will take to sort through it all. Thank goodness we had a basement / extra room available at the office, or we would have been paying monthly rent just to store our “extra stuff” in a warehouse somewhere.

Simply put, simplifying is hard work.

So when I saw a Netflix show titled “Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things,” I was intrigued.

The main storyline was about Joshua and Ryan, two 30-something friends from Dayton Ohio that call themselves The Minimalists. They had made it in the corporate world — six figure incomes, luxury cars, and enough junk to stuff every corner of their oversized houses — but still felt unsatisfied. So they quit their jobs, wrote a book together, then promoted it on a cross-country publicity tour for most of a year. Moving from small bookshops to TEDx, various workshops to Apple headquarters, podcasts and a second book to another film, these two seem to have made the most out of minimalism.

Meanwhile, their philosophy of life seems to be gaining an audience.

That’s because, while most people think minimalism is about getting rid of material possessions, removing excess is how you make “room for more: more time, more passion, more experiences, more growth, more contribution, more contentment. More freedom. Clearing the clutter from life’s path helps us make that room.”

It’s an interesting concept that I can relate to, and likely many of your members can appreciate it as well.

So what happens to our consumerism society if minimalism becomes the norm? What will it do to retail stores if people stop buying things just to have more things? What will it do to a financial institution’s loan numbers and credit card account balances if Black Friday becomes a non-event and overdraft fees a thing of the past?

Banks may have a problem, since they count on interest and fee income. For credit unions, probably not much will change.  CUs have always been “for people, not for profit”, so it may actually allow everyone to focus on what is important.

Then maybe we can all live by my favorite line of the documentary:

“Love people. Use things. The opposite never works.”





Kent Dicken

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