The 7 Most Influential Posts During My Early Journey to Minimalism

What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us. What we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.” -Albert Pine

As I have been preparing for Becoming Minimalist’s Fall Speaking Tour (if I can consider 4 speaking engagements a “tour”), I have been taking many trips down memory lane. In order to accomplish the task of inspiring others to pursue minimalism/simplicity in their lives, I wanted to remember what my life was like beforehand and what information was helpful for me to hear.

To accomplish that task, I have been reviewing the archives. And it has been interesting to see how my life and blog has evolved over the past 30 months. But more on that in a future post…

As I was reviewing the archives, it occurred to me that I have never given proper credit to the people who spoke into my life during those early weeks and months. So, on a whim, I would like to do that today. Here then, is a list of the 7 Most Influential Posts that I read during my early journey towards minimalism.

Please note: Many of these posts are old. That’s the point. There was not much being written about minimalism back then… but what I found was life-changing.

Also note: It is against my template to open links into a new window. However, each of these links do open into a new window – so be warned. The intention is to make it easy to read the post, close the window, and quickly pick up where you left off.

1. How to Become a Minimalist / Nicole LaMarco / eHow. A simple Google search for “How to Become a Minimalist” led me to this article on eHow. And it will forever stand as my first online introduction to the lifestyle. Looking back, I don’t recall the practical steps being all that helpful to my journey. But I do distinctly recall the first paragraph further inspiring me to pursue it.

2. A Guide to Creating a Minimalist Home / Leo Babauta / Zen Habits. Thank you, Leo. You were the second article I read about minimalism and gave me all the framework that I needed to begin the journey. Your steps were practical, yet relaxing. You thoroughly explained the benefits of minimalism and put it completely within my grasp. Because of that, I will always refer to your post as the most important article ever written on the subject.

3. The Story of Stuff / Annie Leonard. I don’t recall how I stumbled upon this video one afternoon sitting in my office at work, but I can remember the time of day, my surroundings… even the weather outside… the first time I watched it. It was the section on “consumption” that I watched first and she had me hooked within the first 2 minutes when she said, “We have become a nation of consumers.” Suddenly, I began to understand how society has raised us and trained us to become consumers for their own selfish motives. It is a must-watch… but you probably already knew that.

4. Learning to Let Go / Jennifer Skinner / The Very Small Closet. Although her site is no longer active and I don’t know how to find her, I will never forget the name of Jennifer Skinner. She was one of the first to comment on this blog. More importantly, her post on letting go of clothes set my journey inward. In her three-part series, she lists three common reasons why people struggle to release clothing (associations, fear, imagination for the future). I identified with most of what she mentioned. And quickly realized that the external belongings in my life represent internal thoughts, motivations, and emotions. It turned me on to seek them out… and eventually became the motivation behind my second e-book: Inside-Out Simplicity.

5. The 100-Thing Challenge / Dave Bruno / Guy Named Dave. Living with only 100 things has never really appealed to me personally, but Dave’s example of accomplishing it has given me motivation each step along the way. A friend of mine passed along the original Time magazine article and I have followed Dave ever since. His story continues to inspire me today.

6. Minimalism Our Way / via Mandi Ehman / Organizing Your Way. I feel bad including a post that I wrote, but let me share the story and you’ll understand. Mandi was the first person to approach me about writing a guest post. I accepted her request with no hesitation (“A real live blog was asking me to write…“). At the time, I had no idea how it would change my own path towards minimalism. I began researching her blog and discovered that the narrative she was writing was that “organizing” must be done your way or it will never last. That principle soon became an important piece of my journey towards minimalism and a running theme on this blog. Rational minimalism must be applied to your unique lifestyle and value system… or it will never last.

7. A No-Frills Kitchen Still Cooks / Mark Bittman / The New York Times. Mark Bittman took my greatest obstacle (our kitchen) and made it completely doable. His article in the NYT gave me a simple, comprehensive guide on what to keep and what to remove. I referred to it often during “kitchen week” and have referred to it again and again since then. I have even sent it to friends and relatives as a great place to begin when organizing their own kitchen. Thanks Mark. You made my toughest obstacle easier.

Along those lines, I would be thrilled to hear what posts were most influential in your life. You can share them in the comments below.

Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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  1. says

    You know, when I started Organizing Your Way, I had no idea how the principle of doing things “your way” would begin to affect my whole world view. I find myself being less judgmental towards other parents, bloggers, professionals, etc. as I embrace this idea. I don’t want to come across as someone who doesn’t believe in any absolutes — because I do — but so much of life is subjective, and I think we’d all get along much better if we accepted other people for where they’re at instead of judging. //end of soapbox speech

    It’s exciting to read how that concept played into your own minimalist journey, and I’m proud to be part of it in that small way!

  2. says

    What a fantastic list of resources! The whole process can be overwhelming so this gives people a short list to begin with. I started with clearing out books, next is to begin with one horizontal surface at a time. My mother was a packrat, bordering on hoarder, and flat surfaces have always been as issue for me as well as my family.
    I have been spending a great deal of time at home lately, recuperating, and looking at all my cluttered surfaces is giving me a motivation to get moving. So, off I go!

  3. says

    Hey good idea with going back to the posts that were really influential in setting your minimalist foundation.

    Sometimes one really well written post can turn on a whole new perspective and a different way at doing things better, healthier, and more efficiently.

  4. says

    I found your site recently and I’ve been reading back through all the archives myself. I’m almost through with 2009.

    The most influential to me have been the posts about minimalism and children. I was drawn to minimalism but even though some great blogs are popping up about it, so many of them are written by young, single people with no kids.

    Your blog and your first book, Simplify (that I read in one day!), have been very inspirational to me in showing me how you can practically apply minimalism to family life. Thanks so much!

    – Faith

  5. says

    Love it! You are totally getting me fired up. I talked to my neighbors and we are having a neigborhood yard sale in a few weeks!
    Don’t know if you got my email but could you be a guest post for me?

  6. says

    That’s one of my all-time favorite Mark Bittman articles, but he is just a dreamboat otherwise as well! His “How to Cook Everything” books are a must-have, and his “The Minimalist” online video series shows lots of great things to make that don’t require a degree from Le Cordon Bleu to make. Plus, he’s got a great sense of humor. Love him!

  7. Lisa says

    I have found this site to be the most influential to me in making my very recent decision to become a minimalist. I have been trying to read everything about minimalism and I return again and again to this blog. In particular, the concept of rational minimalism resonates with me. My journey’s beginning baby step was getting rid of all our suitcases (except for one) and all garment bags/carryon bags etc. and purchasing one really good carryon bag. This was spurred by a summer vacation trip to Yosemite where we were hit with all the baggage charges. When we returned, we knew there had to be a better way to travel and through researching traveling lightly, I discovered minimalism. My next step was minimalizing my clothes ( a big area for me). It’s working out beautifully but the process was more difficult than I thought it would be. Later this morning, I plan to spend some time taking the next step — minimalizing my shoes. Wish me luck! Thank you for the inspiration to begin and to continue this journey of minimalism. I am looking forward to a much simpler, richer life in hopefully about a year from now.

  8. says

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