Minimalists Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus share thoughts on how less is more, even during the holidays

Courtesy PhotoStarting anew: Joshua Fields Millburn

When Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus visit San Francisco this week, they will be spreading a slightly different yuletide message: Don’t let buying gifts drive you this holiday season.

The self-proclaimed minimalists will speak about the topic at A Temporary Offering on Market Street on Thursday evening.

Minimalism may conjure up images of spartan living with bare walls and scarce physical possessions, or other monastic behavior, but Nicodemus says that isn’t what the two are advocating on their nationwide “Holiday Happiness” tour.

“Really, minimalism for us is about living more meaningfully and questioning what things we bring into our lives and if it adds value,” he says.

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One question they often hear pertains to holiday gift-giving. Nicodemus says he  recommends giving gifts that are experiences, such as a dinner with a loved one, rather than physical objects.

Nicodemus and Fields, who have known each other since childhood, came to minimalism through paths that included six-figure jobs, large houses and lots of possessions.

Both say they were deeply unhappy despite the material possessions they amassed. Through a process that included unloading many of their belongings, and in one case ending a close relationship, they began adhering to a minimalist lifestyle and writing about it in best-selling books, including “Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life,” and on their website.

While their philosophy condones limiting possessions, Nicodemus adds that it doesn’t necessarily mean going without.

Nicodemus, who has an iPhone, considers whether he needs a new version, or whether he wants to buy it just to keep up with everyone else.

“We have unfortunately gotten wrapped up in the culture of mass culture,” he says.

While he acknowledges the minimalists’ message might not be for everyone, Nicodemus specifically invites people interested in getting a new perspective about mass consumption to attend Thursday’s event.

mbillings@sfexaminer.com

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