I really liked this small book. It has the best qualities of a self-published book – personal stories and relatable experiences, plus no beating around the bush or beating the dead horse. I read the whole book in about an hour and can move forward with my life.
However, it wasn’t perfect, so – as usual – I will start with some
I found a few typos in the book, and English is not even my first language. Also, I can sense one type of editing (developmental? line-editing? I always confuse them) is done poorly or completely missing – the one, which removes redundancies and excessive language ornamentals. I mean, how many times can you read about how many shirts Marc has and how many he got rid of?
The answer, when it comes to “The Happy Minimalist” is “too many.” :/
2. Not so Much of How to.
If you expect a step-by-step, ready-to-use brilliant minimalism framework, you will not find it in this book. There are some basic elements there. However, The Happy Minimalist is more about the mindset and motivation, than techniques.
If you ask me, this is also an advantage of this book. “What” and “how” you can easily find on the internet. Motivation is much harder to obtain.
This is not the usual minimalism book. They are dime a dozen. Marc motivates you to discover your ‘why’ for minimalism cause, which will make all the ‘what’ and ‘how’ an afterthought.
3. A Lot of Habits.
Reklau recommends developing quite a few small habits to have a happier and less cluttered life. But does it fit the philosophy of minimalism?
I don’t know, and I don’t care. I’m not a minimalist. 😛
4. I Was Not Converted.
If motivation is the main benefit of The Happy Minimalist, then I didn’t get enough of it. I’m not going to fit my belongings into 1.5 suitcases.
I’m married with three kids. You have no clue (or, if you have kids, you know it very well) how much stuff kids need. You have no clue how much stuff wife needs. 😉
And I like my clutter. I have a few hundred books in my tiny home office. Most of them, I read just once. But I like to have them.
I have a drawer full of papers from my high school (I graduated over 23 years ago!). I clung to those papers through nine or ten moves, some of them between cities. I looked into them maybe ten times in those 23 years. But I like to have them.
Having said that, I agree with Marc that clutter steals my time and focus. I declare I’ll clean the mess in my home office and keep it in order. So, I guess the motivation angle didn’t completely fail.
Let’s go to the multiple and great PROS of The Happy Minimalist:
1. Written from Experience.
This is not another theoretical treatise about minimalism and its benefits. I’ve been following closely Marc Reklau for the last few years. This guy is minimalism incarnated.
He can store all his material possessions in 1.5 suitcases and move to another country. In fact, he actually has done this three times in the last few years.
This book is written by a true subject expert and practitioner. As annoying as repetitive details about his minimalism disciplines are, they are also totally authentic.
What is more, Marc also instances plenty of stories of his readers and coaching clients, so it is not just his experience. If applied minimalism brought wonderful benefits also to them, it is no longer just a fluke. Minimalism, the way the author preaches it, is not just his way of life – it is something every person can benefit from, big time.
2. Good Read.
Marc uses a simple language, no ornamental wording. The chapters are short and to the point.
It all makes the book extremely digestible. Even if you are in a hurry, you can read a chapter waiting in a queue, commuting or being stuck in traffic.
Plus, the author has some gift of words, which is another PRO in its own right.
3. Great Habits.
In The Happy Minimalist, Marc recommends plenty of different small, daily habits. Which is right down my alley. I’m a champion of good habits.
Sometimes, it’s hard to connect the dots between some of those habits and minimalism – a lot of them belong to the realm of mind.
But frankly, I don’t care. They are great habits nonetheless and I prescribe them to my readers, followers, friends… well, actually to everyone. Thus, I loved this aspect of the book.
Additional advantage: exactly like with the whole minimalism philosophy, the author is actually a practitioner of those habits. And it is four times better to learn habits from a practitioner (Coach.me‘s data collected among millions of users).
4. Wonderful Wisdom.
Among tips and advice about getting rid of the physical and mental clutter, Reklau smuggled some impactful bits of wisdom between the lines.
Self-punishment is strictly forbidden.”
The above line refers to your eventual failures with decluttering, but it is excellent life advice. Self-punishment might have been good only for narcissists… but they are the last on earth to apply it. For everybody else, it is strictly forbidden. Beating yourself will get you nowhere, make you feel miserable, and hurt the only person in the universe that can actually fix your problems – you!
Similarly, Marc’s shopping habits and financial advice are incredibly smart. To the degree that it is, in fact, wise. Go to the mall to shop for the ideas of new purchases, not for shopping. And examine those ideas on your way back. Mind blowing! Simple. Quick. Effective. Money-saving. Sparing you the clutter in your life.
But the concept which was the most impactful for me was saving time. Well, technically, you cannot save time. It flows. You cannot store it for later. But you can spend it on activities you value and appreciate. Minimalism is a way that allows you to do just that. The less time you spend managing your physical and mental clutter, the more time you have for the things you enjoy or which align with your life values.
This is priceless. You can always make more money, but you can never make time or bring back the lost time. Thus, implementing minimalism in your life can truly make you happier.
5. Amazing One-Liners.
I mentioned Reklau’s gift for words. Here you have a sample:
Discard first, store later.
Clutter is caused by failure to return things where they belong.
When something new comes in, something old goes out.
Clutter builds up slowly mostly without you even noticing it so purge regularly.
Unfinished business weighs you down.
If you want to downsize your life, learn from an expert who has been there and done that. That’s Marc Reklau, a guy who can put all his material possessions in 1.5 suitcases.
Good read, solid advice provided in a very digestible form. A truly minimalistic book about minimalism. Recommended!
PS. I’ve just cleaned the stack of papers on my desk in my home office. Hmm, I guess that makes CON #4 invalid? 😉
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