In his blog post https://www.petershallard.com/why-minimalism-is-toxic-for-you-and-your-business/ Peter Shallard makes a case for the idea that miminalism is just trendy counter-culture practiced by bored and wealthy wannabes and that materialism is not only more enjoyable but more practical, particularly for new entrepreneurs.
In this video I review the post and debunk his views on minimalism. For more on minimalism, get the CORRECT info from the experts here: https://www.theminimalists.com/
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Full transcript (unedited)
what’s up everyone got something slightly different for you today i’ll keep the person anonymous somebody put me on to a coach for coaches type guy peter sharla and it’s a blog post about minimalism and the idea that minimalism is actually toxic specifically to entrepreneurs i had to read through the article and what i’d like to do is challenge it because i don’t believe minimalism is toxic i in fact think it’s a cure to a toxicity so i’m going to try and challenge this blog post and we’re going to go through it i’ll share the screen so you can see the bits i’m reading and this is just going to be a rant with my opinions i’m not exactly a minimalism expert but i am a devotee of it you could say and so i’m going to try and defend the thing that i love and we’ll see how that goes and you guys can make up your own minds
all right so here we are peter schaller the shrink for entrepreneurs and their blog post is entitled why minimalism is toxic for you and your business toxic all right so we’re gonna go through i’m not gonna read the whole thing probably and pick out points and just kind of defend the minimalism philosophy from this a ruthless attack so he starts out pretty strong minimalism is dumb downright harmful to you your ambition and your business i actually like writing like this i love it when zombie just makes the main point straight out of the gate with no suspense so i’ve got to give him credit for that if nothing else he writes in the way that i like
so and he’s also made it clear that he’s just ranting so i’m not gonna treat him like he’s some sort of doctor of philosophy or anything like that he’s just a dude ranting about a thing and i respect that now i’m gonna start with his definition because i think he’s a little bit off but not too far he’s uh talking about minimalism being a philosophy of having less and radically reducing the amount of stuff that you own i would agree that on the surface this is what it appears to be though that is very much an oversimplification and this is more a manifestation of how it plays out rather than the actual underlying point uh he talks about freeing yourself from possession mania and he thinks what it comes down to most often as he says in practice is a live from a suitcase lifestyle that prioritizes experience over objects now this bit prioritizes experience of objects i think is the most accurate thing he’s got in this definition uh as the minimalists as they call themselves these two experts who put out that minimalism documentary uh their latest book i think is love people use things and what they’re really talking about is minimalism is about detaching from your love of things to treat inanimate objects with personification to fall in love with objects that’s what they’re saying is the real issue with uh minimalism or the or it’s opposite and that life is the quality of life is through experience and connection with people it’s not through owning stuff he also doesn’t add here that one of the main concepts or precepts of minimalism is the idea that stuff takes up space in your mind it takes up psychological bandwidth and i don’t need to go into all the studies you can look these up yourself but essentially the more you own the more space it takes up in your head you have to remember it you have to keep track of where it is you actually get a sense of hoarding in your mind it burdens you psychologically to own stuff that you don’t need or use and that’s what minimalism is all about it’s not about who can compete to have the least amount of stuff it’s about the pointlessness of having stuff that takes up mental bandwidth and reduces your confidence and your ability to focus and uh your ability to prioritize what’s important because you’ve just got too much [ __ ] in your head and that’s kind of bit that’s missing here but i’ll agree with peter here that this is what most people think minimalism is it’s just getting rid of stuff and focusing on experiences right so he thinks the core tenant of minimalism is the also only stuff as i’ve just said that’s actually not really the core tenant but it is how a lot of people perceive minimalism so i’ll give them that so yes why do we own stuff in the first place he says owning stuff rocks
and he goes into some very sort of oversimplified um evolutionary psychology here about how we start using tools and keeping them in that this is good to equate keeping tools with having three cars when you only drive one is a sort of false equivalency owning stuff rocks isn’t actually an accurate statement what you’ll find if you look into the research around this is that owning stuff only has a brief high period at the beginning when you acquire it and then you go into a kind of monotone where the thing ends up basically costing more than it earns psychologically speaking you don’t enjoy stuff that you own for very long and you’ll know it anybody watching this will know it the initial purchase feels good but the continued ownership really does in fact it just becomes a new uh sort of baseline expectation you might have got by on very little when you are a uni student for example but now you couldn’t get by without a fridge full of food so your your baseline expectation your entitlement has come up with the more stuff you own which actually makes you more fragile so the more stuff you own the easier it is to disappoint you and upset you by reducing the amount of stuff whereas if you have very little amount of stuff it’s kind of hard to hurt your feelings by removing it makes a point here owning the superior thing rather than finding a new thing every day is more efficient now that is quite possibly true but this is not what minimalism about is about minimalism is actually all about efficiency if keeping something is more efficient than acquiring a new thing every day minimalism will tell you to keep it minimalism doesn’t say get rid of all stuff it says keep the things that are important and that you use a lot it even says you can keep things that you like like if you’re a shoe collector then keep your shoe collection but if you’ve got 50 shoes in your cupboard that you never wear and you’re not a shoe collector it says get rid of them so holding on to those shoes is actually less efficient than just buying new shoes as you need them because not only does not only do those shoes take up closet space they take up mental space it’s a waste of space he then goes on to acknowledge that material without function as a problem that we’ve just got so much crap stocked up and that’s everything’s cheap and disposable now because we behave with this kind of acquire mentality rather than keep for a long term mentality so he does acknowledge that let’s see how he challenges why that is still better than minimalism see here he makes an interesting comparison he says minimalism says we should clean our garages of junk and we’ll have a cleaner mind that is basically what minimalism says but then he says that minimalism is airbnb and zipcar instead of owning a house and owning a car and instead of long-term savvy decisions about dwellings of vehicles this is an oversimplification and a misunderstanding of minimalism minimalism does say keep the stuff that matters it’s all about efficiency if it’s better to own a house than to keep uh bouncing between airbnbs and minimalism will say own a house what it’s saying is what you should what you own should be important and used often that’s what it says something like airbnb is something you use if you’re not going to stay in one place for very long if for example you travel for a living let’s say you’re a travel blogger it makes no sense to own a house okay you’re never in it it’s just space not being used or if you’re somebody who lives in a massive house all by yourself most of your house is going unused minimalism will say that’s a waste right so get a smaller house or if you’re bouncing around all the time it’s better to rent and financially speaking in certain situations it is more financially uh secure and makes better financial sense then to rent rather than owning there’s a little calculation you can do i’ll include a link below that tells you whether the house you’re buying is better off being bought or rented because of the hidden costs of owning a house and that’s what minimalism is saying is make your decisions wisely about what you’re going to keep it should be better than using sort of frequent new things if you’re going to keep it if using frequent new things is more wastage and kind of as he says here uh just instant gratification minimalism doesn’t support that what peter i think is attacking is a kind of straw man of what you might call i don’t know trendy minimalism the people who don’t really get it who are just doing it to be cool you know like the people who just want to call themselves minimalists and they haven’t even read the books peter seems to be attacking those types of people here where the true minimalists probably would own a house if that made sense says here minimalism encourages short-term thinking and investing actually does the very opposite of that it encourages thinking long-term quality of life now the next point is really easy to debunk you says minimalists don’t own art [ __ ] yes they do you are allowed to own whatever you want as a minimalist you can keep anything that has substantial value to you and that value does not need to be practical that value could be emotional so if you read any real sort of minimalism text they’ll say hey if you’re really into art then keep your art just get rid of the extra car that you don’t drive they talk about keeping things that are valuable so art is an experience right if you have art on the wall and looking at it improves your quality of life a minimalist will say keep that art up on the wall peter again is attacking the straw man of these people who live out of suitcases they are a very rare type of minimalist these extremists who only have like 37 possessions they do not represent the vast majority of people who follow this philosophy not by a long shot minimalists say materials looking for meaning in the wrong objects that people shouldn’t find fulfillment in a new car but there are tons of people who do really the research does not say that what they’ll say is they find instant gratification in buying a new car and then they get over it quickly that’s what the research says and he even goes on to say this i’ve got a friend in new york who gets a huge kick out of buying and racing the latest ridiculous rocket made by ducati buying and racing so he gets over it so he has to get a new one he has about seven of them and is one happy dude i don’t doubt that he’s a happy dude but he needs seven of them to be happy is that really the most efficient path to satisfaction is that really the most life fulfilling quality of life what happens if this guy goes broke and he can’t afford motorcycles anymore is he still gonna be happy it’s a high-risk kind of position to be in where your stuff makes you happy because stuff can be taken away he talks here about minimalist living in the white world nothingness of possession freedom he’s thinking about minimalism as an architecture and art form not minimalism the philosophy when you go into a minimalist house and it’s all white and like chrome steel and there’s nothing on the walls that’s not the philosophy of minimalism they just happen to use the same words that is a design style called minimalism minimalists don’t necessarily have minimalism houses right i’m a minimalist and they’re still out on the walls and we’ve got [ __ ] that we like everywhere okay he’s he’s again there’s a straw man here have of this person who owns no stuff this person who happily live in a box and have no possessions i don’t know who he’s referring to but he’s not referring to the average minimalist here he butchers victor franco he says the quest of meaning is finding it through creation ours or someone else’s actually what victor frankl says is that the quest for meaning is living for something all right this is what got him through uh auschwitz and the other camps that he was involved in and the quest to find meaningful objects is not what victor franco was talking about at all i think viktor frankl was talking about logotherapy he’s talking about finding your connection to the universe that is not done through stuff but it’s done through the way you behave living with integrity having a set of principles that you live by that you’re proud of very stoic philosophy type thinking and stoics are definitely much further down the spectrum of minimalism than peter shallot so this is really a misrepresentation of viktor frankl by a long shot he says here there’s a ton of evidence that humans thrive in a materialistic abundance i’d like to see some citations because i’ve seen plenty of evidence that they don’t and then he goes on to say kids constantly get better grades when their parents own a home what the hell’s that got to do with materialism materialism isn’t owning a home materialism is buying heaps of crap you don’t need it’s consumerism it’s buying just so you can buy rather than buying what you need if you need a house to protect your kids that’s not materialism and it could easily be minimalism if you’re trying to do something bold and risky in the world it pays to have a really comfortable nest actually it pays to be really frugal if you’re an entrepreneur who wants to do well it’s best that you don’t spend your money on worthless crap you’re going to need cash flow you’re going to need some nest egg financially to get through the tougher times buying heaps of stuff is actually going to make you worse off if you can be a minimalist when you start your business you’re going to be much more financially secure than a person who keeps spending as if they’re an employee it goes on minimalists compete unless some even go on digital purges deleting of old photos erasing their digital pass yes some of them do but again i think this is the straw man of the kind of trendy wannabe minimalist who doesn’t get the principles if you just go around deleting photos to prove that you can delete old [ __ ] you don’t get it if you delete photos of your ex because you’re trying to get her out of your mind because it no longer serves any value that’s minimalism but if you enjoy going through your past and looking at photos and that’s valuable and a meaningful experience for you a minimalist will tell you keep those photos really this is a real strawman argument happening here and here’s his coup de grace minimalist minimalism makes us complacent at the core of the desire to own less is the philosophy of doing less no it’s not it’s the philosophy of doing more instead of owning [ __ ] you go out and have experiences and he goes finding happiness with what you have and with even less than that as if that’s a bad thing and yet every major philosophy ever since ancient greece has talked about this concept that if you want to make yourself happier you just simply reduce your expectations to meet reality the less you require reality to fill the hole inside you the easier it is to enjoy your life if you need lots of stuff to enjoy your life you’re incredibly vulnerable to attack so if i see a rich guy he needs his money to enjoy life i know that all i need to do to make him unhappy is take his money away and if i’m the right kind of person that’s very easy to do but what do you do to a minimalist what can you take away from a minimalist to make their life worse pretty much nothing says minimalism actually encourages you to reduce your ambition the the ultimate teenage expression of trying isn’t cool straw man that’s not what minimalism is about at all minimalism is about getting out in life and having real experiences rather than sitting around hoarding stuff and hugging things that don’t hug you back the minimalist has less stuff so less reason to certainly comfortable little nest doing nothing you’ll find that minimalist entrepreneurs are actually quite ambitious and quite active and they get out there and they meet people and they do stuff rather than trying to stockpile money so they can buy [ __ ] they don’t need minimalism and minimal ambition can’t be separated yes i can you if you need to want stuff to be ambitious then your ambition is very kind of brittle it’s fragile if your ambition if your motivation is to get more stuff that’s the best you can do then you haven’t found a real mission you haven’t found a purpose i have almost no interest in getting stuff when people ask me what i want for my birthday i say nothing because i’m fine unless i’m out of food i’m good but i’m very driven and very motivated because my mission is to serve people and have an impact on their lives and teach certain philosophies none of that acquires stuff but it gets me out of bed in the morning so actually i’m very [ __ ] ambitious but it’s not about getting stuff and i think what happens here is peter shellard is ambitious about getting stuff that is his driving motivator and he assumes other people think like him no they don’t and they don’t need to then he does what’s called an appeal to emotion style of argument which is a very weak way of making an argument but this is a blog post he can do what he wants says try explaining minimalism to a starving kid third world country i was born first world with every opportunity i could ever want for i never wanted for food education or anything at all really when i see something i want i can have it because of living this way life has become kind of meaningless and i’m going to actively commit to shunning all of it having less than doing less well actually a lot of minimalism philosophy comes derived from tribes and what would be known as third world countries i’m not talking about people living in poverty but simple civilizations people who don’t retain a lot of stuff who don’t buy stuff at shops they just go and hunt and they make their own houses and they have their rituals and their music and everything is about experience and connection keeping stuff doesn’t really appeal to them it doesn’t even make sense to them everything is pick it up use it put it down again so the very people that he’s explaining this to would actually get it because the thing is a starving kid in a third world country probably isn’t the person to be having a philosophical debate with but maybe their community leader would be because tell you what if you’re starving in a third world country you’ve got to find meaning elsewhere other than having stuff and they often do in fact that’s what victor franco was talking about he found meaning in a [ __ ] concentration camp where you had to fight for [ __ ] potato scraps to feed yourself right if he can find meaning there then you don’t need stuff to find meaning he goes on to say that people from these countries when they you know refugee or go over to another place they pull themselves up by their bootstraps and achieve levels of success i’m assuming he means lots of stuff far beyond what the normal population does and that’s because they’ve arrived in paradise and they’re grateful for it he’s making assumption that they want lots of stuff i don’t see the evidence for that and i very much doubt that he rubs shoulders with many of these people says to these people minimalism is a [ __ ] joke how many of these people has he actually spoken to because i’m gonna go ahead and guess [ __ ] zero i on the other hand have spoken to many of them they come and join us in the brojo community we’ve had many immigrants from countries that were doing very badly and have come over for better opportunities you know what their top priorities have been relationships they don’t care that much about stuff i’m sure there are the ones who do care about stuff but the idea that peter knows these people inside and out and that they shed on minimalism i’m gonna go ahead and call [ __ ] on that i don’t think he knows these people at all at its dark heart minimalism is a hobby of disaffected wealthy people playing at philosophy and hip counter culture this is who he’s attacking but this is a tiny niche of the minimalism community probably quite a vocal niche and maybe that’s why they caught his attention but a true minimalist isn’t this they aren’t a disaffected wealthy person though they might be what they really are is somebody who realizes that experience and connections are more valuable to your long-term quality of life than stuff unless you’re a [ __ ] psychopath he thinks it’s toxic to focus only on having what you need that kind of says it all if you think it’s poisonous to only focus on what you need rather than going beyond that rejecting other p any opportunities to help other people with their knees what how does that mean that in fact if you’re only focused on getting what you need you get your needs met very quickly because you don’t need much now you’ve got heaps of time to focus on helping other people if you’re constantly focused on getting heaps of stuff you probably don’t have much time to help other people unless helping them gets you more stuff which isn’t really helping them he then finally finishes up with saying the wealthy one percent the top one percent they should reject this imitation step into their power he doesn’t describe what that means they have the potential to transform the planet with the resources available to them sound good sure does do they do it no because they’re obsessed with keeping their stuff all right so that wealthy 1 could do wonders for the world but because they’re not minimalists they keep their billions they keep their helicopters they keep their islands and they don’t put back into the world anywhere near what they could the people who started unlucky at the bottom don’t get any support from them and usually get stuff taken away from them so those are my thoughts on peter shellard’s attack on a straw man of minimalism thank you for watching catch you all later