Simplicity is not Simple! Five Lessons from “Minimalism: A Documentary about the Important Things”

5 Lessons from “Minimalism: A Documentary about the Important Things”

Minimalism is often seen as a lifestyle that restricts you from the things that give you the most pleasure. The world gave it a connotation that Minimalism is depriving yourself of having material things and indulging yourself of things that catches your attention. In reality, Minimalism is only a guide, something to help you make a decision on what’s really important. It gives you a chance to consciously decide and gives you the freedom; “Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from overwhelm. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from depression. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom.”

In May 2016, a  documentary directed by Matt D’Avella entitled, “Minimalism: A Documentary about the important things” featured several personalities and their journey to a minimalist lifestyle. It shows the hardships and the rewarding feeling that the transition of lifestyle gave them. Not only that, the film gave meaningful messages and lessons to impart to the viewer.

There are a lot of lessons to be learned in this movie so we compiled five lessons that you can practice in a way you design your space and your lifestyles.

Minimalism is not living with nothing.

“Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it.”

Just because you decided to live your life as a minimalist, that you have to live with nothing. The Minimalists, Joshua Fields Millburn, and Ryan Nicodemus traveled across their country to talk about their book, Everything that Remains and through this book and this book tour, they want to change people’s lives and make them see what minimalism is all about. They explained that if something is important to you, it is up to you if you’re going to keep it or dispose of it. There is no requirement. According to Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist, “Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it.”

Anyone can do iT

Sometimes when you ask someone if they will ever venture in a minimalist lifestyle, they can give you so many reasons why they won’t. It’s true, having to live a life that makes you evaluate what really matters to you is terrifying because it means you have to give up the stuff you were taught in society to love. The things that you were taught to be important. It may have crossed your mind about the lifestyle or the circumstance that you are currently in. The house that you’re living in. In the documentary, they featured different types of people in different walks of life and showed how they live their life as a Minimalist. There are news anchors, corporate employees, traveler, husband and pregnant wife, parents with five kids, etc, all of them have their own struggles but somehow they made minimalism a part of their lives. These people also struggled. At first, they never thought they would be able to do it, but you might be surprised yourself.

Don’t confuse your needs and things that you thought you need because of how much you want it.

From the famous word of the legendary Marie Kondo, “Does it spark joy?” Being a minimalist, or even just attempting to de-clutter and organize your house, it is important to know if something really is important to you. You have to realize that buying more stuff you THINK you need, is not necessary to purchase. Media and advertisements have shown products after products of things that you thought you need. And they show it in the most convincing way that you think you have no choice but to buy. Minimalism, on the other hand, teaches us that, yes, you can buy whatever you want as long as it’s something you really need. It teaches to make an informed choice of what items we should keep and what items should be thrown away. On that note, here is what The Minimalists have to say, “Today’s problem seems to be the meaning we assign to our stuff: we tend to give too much meaning to our things, often forsaking our health, our relationships, our passions, our personal growth, and our desire to contribute beyond ourselves. Want to own a car or a house? Great, have at it! Want to raise a family and have a career? If these things are important to you, then that’s wonderful. Minimalism simply allows you to make these decisions more consciously, more deliberately.”

It is believed that people tend to buy a lot of things to feel something. According to Ryan Nicodemus, he spent his life as a corporate slave going through paycheck to paycheck “attempting to buy his way to happiness.” It is also stated in the movie that we humans are “wired to be dissatisfied.” Once we get tired of the material things we own, we get dissatisfied and we forget the reason why we bought it in the first place. That’s why we need to assess what items we need to purchase.


"Does this spark joy?" Learn the Konmari method from the decluttering queen Marie Kondo

“Every possession serves a purpose”


When Joshua Fields Millburn was describing the way he designed his house, he explained that his house contains all the necessary furniture and items that he needs, as little as it is. He made sure that “Every possession serves a purpose.” Same as the thought in no. 3, the takeaway here is that everything you own must serve a purpose in your life. Don’t stock up on appliances you don’t need, old magazines and newspapers or clothes you don’t wear. Despite not using some of our stuff, we tend to think of all the what ifs. What if we need to use it in the future? In some way, it is good to worry about these things but in the process ask yourself also, “if you are not going to use it regularly, what is the point of acquiring it?”

The space you have should accommodate you. Not the other way around.


“We’re living our life depending on the space that we’ve got rather than creating our space to fit our lives,” says Frank Mascia, a minimalist architect featured in the film. One of the most important points in the film is how we use our space. In the movie, they presented a study that 40% of the space is used for more stuff in the house. And there are people who rarely go to several rooms in the house but still, we kept on putting stuff inside those rooms to create an illusion that space is not wasted. We tend to buy more and more stuff to fill the space that we have instead of adjusting the space based on our stuff. We have to learn to manage our space based on our needs. To cater for all the important stuff that we use on a daily basis and like what was said before, “Every possession serves a purpose.”

This film has great advice that you can apply in more ways than one. You can either be looking for ways to cut down your expenses, decluttering your house, looking for a new place or even finding meaning in this life. Minimalism is not easy but it’s not a burden also. All you have to do is decide on what’s important for you and what will look good for you. If you want to learn more about the Minimalism: A Documentary about Important Things, the movie is available on Netflix.

Minimalism comes in all shapes and size. Why not try something new for your place? If you are planning to revamp your place with a more minimalistic look, Tokyo Grand Renovation (TGR) is here to help. TGR is a Japanese home interior design and renovation firm that focuses on designing and building luxury spaces that are stylish, elegant, and also functional using Japanese lifestyle craftsmanship. TGR is located at the heart of Makati Central District. Learn more about us here.

For inquiries, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 832 16 76, or send an e-mail at

TGRはマカティの高級インテリアデザイン、リノベーション、会社です。TGRは 住宅および商業 スペースの為のデザインと建築を提供 し ております。お問い合わせは 、02832 1676 にお電話いただくか、 電子メール へ送信 お願いします。


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