How to Love People & Use Things, Whether Or Not You’re A “Hoarder,” Minimalist Diets & Workouts & 7 Essential Relationships with Joshua Millburn.

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Joshua Millburn
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I've been interviewed a few times on the outstanding The Minimalists podcast with Joshua Millburn and his partner in crime Ryan Nicodemus, who together founded The Minimalists.

Emmy-nominated Netflix stars, podcasters, and New York Times–bestselling authors, Josh and Ryan help millions of people live meaningfully with less. The Minimalists have been featured in TIME, GQ, ABC, CBS, NBC, BBC, and NPR, and they have spoken at Harvard, Apple, and Google.

Here are links to a few of my previous episodes with them:

But this time it was I who put one of them (Josh) in the hot seat for my podcast, and I was able to speak with him about his journey into the minimalism mindset, how we sometimes go about it the wrong way, the four stages of hoarding, and much more.

At age 30, Josh and Ryan walked away from their six-figure corporate careers, jettisoned most of their material possessions, and started focusing on what's truly important. In their debut book, Minimalism: Live a Meaningful LifeJosh and Ryan explored 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.

After a pair of life-changing events, Joshua and Ryan discovered minimalism, allowing them to eliminate their excess material things so they could focus on life's most important things: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution.

At first glance, people might think the point of minimalism is only to get rid of material possessions: Eliminating. Jettisoning. Extracting. Detaching. Decluttering. Paring down. Letting go. But that’s a mistake. True, removing the excess is an important part of the recipe—but it’s just one ingredient. If we’re concerned solely with the stuff, we’re missing the larger point.

Minimalists don’t focus on having less, less, less. They focus on making room for more: more time, more peace, more creativity, more experiences, more contribution, more contentment, and more freedom. Clearing the clutter frees up the space.

Minimalism is the thing that gets you past the things so you can make room for life’s important things—which aren’t things at all.

In this episode, Josh and I discuss his new book Love People, Use Things (which he also co-wrote with Ryan), in which he moves past simple decluttering, to show how minimalism makes room to reevaluate and heal the seven essential relationships in your life.

In this interview with Joshua Millburn, you'll discover:

-Publishing forays in the realm of minimalism…05:43

  • Documentaries:
  • Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life, by Joshua Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus
  • Ben on the Minimalist Podcast:
  • Josh grew up with hard times in Dayton, OH
  • Achieved material success by age of 30, but was left unfulfilled
  • Adopted a minimalist mindset and lifestyle and began sharing with others
  • Average American home contains 300,000 things (stat from the LA Times)
  • Most people in the west are stage 1 hoarders
  • Those excess things are often getting in the way of what's important

-The four stages of hoarding, and which stage you're likely at…11:15

  • Spartanism: you can't hold on to anything (opposite of hoarding)
  • Level 1 hoarder: light clutter, excess stuff in house, garage, etc.
  • Advanced stages: smells, garbage, dead pets in the freezer, trash all over
  • Intentionality is the line between hoarding and preparing
  • “Just in Case” rule
  • 20/20 rule: items that can be replaced for $20, within 20 minutes of home

-The “lightbulb” moment when Joshua Millburn embraced minimalism…17:24

  • Marriage ended, mom died within the same month
  • Wanting: The Power of Mimetic Desire by Luke Burgis
  • Luke Burgis on The Minimalist Podcast
  • Less stuff makes us value it more
  • Information Age makes it difficult to ascertain what's important, causes us to compare with neighbors and everyone around the world
  • Consumerism: an ideology where we believe “stuff” will make us feel whole and complete
  • Minimalism becomes a pursuit of the “God-shaped hole” without the right motivation
  • Removing excess creates room for what's truly important

-Starting points into the realm of Minimalism…26:00

  • Wear simple things, avoid decision fatigue
  • The bones are the beauty
  • Spiritual Narcissist clothing (use code BEN22 to save 22%)
  • Vuori clothing
  • The most fashionable people are minimalists, because they wear their favorite clothes only

-Ben and Joshua Millburn discuss a minimalist diet…29:24

-Minimalist exercise and workouts…43:44

-Why being busy doesn't make you important, it just makes you busy…49:12

  • We consider busyness as a status symbol
  • Being busy is actually being out of control of your life; everybody is dictating my time
  • Make everything you do a “hell yes”
  • Priority means “the first thing”

-The seven essential relationships in your life to balance before focusing on relationships with other people…52:11

  1. Stuff
  2. Truth
  3. Self
  4. Values
    1. Foundational values
    2. Structural values
    3. Surface values
    4. Imaginary values
  5. Money
    • Going into debt – Giving up a piece of our freedom to acquire things
    • Spending money we don't have to acquire things we don't need to impress people we don't like
    • Spending 1.2 trillion dollars a year on non-essential goods
  6. Creativity
  7. People

-Mindfulness or meditation practices…59:05

  • Silence is interweaved throughout the day
  • A stoic friend of Joshua's: “I speak only when it adds more value than silence”

-How social minimalism promotes a life of productivity and creation…1:00:27

  • Deep Work by Cal Newport
  • Be aware of tiny pieces of time consumed by responding to requests
  • Concern with others opinion of us
  • Letting go is not about the doing; letting go is not something you do, it's something you stop doing
  • Love People, Use Things By Joshua Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus

-And much more…

-Upcoming Events:

Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

– Joshua Milburn:

– Podcasts:

– Books:

– Other Resources:

Episode sponsors:

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-Willo: Willo lets members tailor their experience to suit their taste and wellness preferences. Members can even monitor the progress of their produce each step along the way. Use code BEN20 for 20% off.

BGL Careers: Ben Greenfield Life is hiring! Check out our careers page to see if any of our current openings suit your skill set. 

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Got a question or feedback for Josh Milburn or myself? Leave a comment below, and one of us will reply!

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8 thoughts on “How to Love People & Use Things, Whether Or Not You’re A “Hoarder,” Minimalist Diets & Workouts & 7 Essential Relationships with Joshua Millburn.

  1. Evelyn says:

    Life changing podcast…one of your most eye opening…powerful! Thank you Ben & Joshua!

    1. Ben Greenfield says:

      glad you found it helpful Evelyn

  2. Kyle Irvin says:

    I am inquiring about podcast advertising with Ben, please follow up with rates and insights.

    1. Ben Greenfield says:

      Send an email to [email protected]

  3. Tim Soper says:

    I know it wasn’t on this episode but does anybody remember the company who is taking classic books and condensing them (like Blinkist does) that Ben talked about on a podcast earlier this year. And the entire catalogue is free. I thought it was a sponsor but can’t find the company anywhere in the show notes. Thanks in advance for anybody helping me out!

  4. CARLA SCAGGS says:

    Is there a link for the Willow Farm that you mentioned? I tried typing in the address you gave, but wasn’t able to get to the right place.

    1. nika says:

      Same for me. Found them here:

    2. Ben Greenfield says:

      Try this one:

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