Everything That Remains: A Review by Ken Melendez

The smell of the pages as they bristle through your emphatic fingers. The weight of the 9 ounce paperback binding on your wrist as you lift it up to explore the many letters that combine to form a string of brilliant words and phrases. Reading all of a sudden becomes an exhilarating adventure, one that gives you breath yet also takes your breath away. What a fascinating experience to embark upon as you drive from the beginning to the end of a work of art, a message that cannot be expressed as effectively in any other format.

Everything That Remains: A Memoir by the Minimalists, is a story that encapsulates the journey towards living a minimalistic lifestyle. Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus were two gentleman in their upper 20's who had both climbed the corporate ladder in search of happiness, only to find the exact opposite. Joshua and Ryan were working countless hours per week, as they thought they should, to reach the pinnacle of their careers as well as their peak levels of fulfillment only to discover feelings of anxiety, stress, and an overarching stain of dissatisfaction.

Without giving too much of the story away, Joshua lost his mother to cancer and his marriage fell apart within a month's time, causing him to take a deep dive within himself to find what was truly important in life. Surely the corporate ladder, you know, the one we all hope to reach the top of, would prove as the ultimate victory crown worn proudly upon one's cranium. The more he searched the more he found that his things were tying him down like an anchor tightly ties down a ship, causing it to stay in one measly spot for extended periods of time.


Joshua's material possessions that he has purchased with exuberance and glee quickly felt like a prison cell where the warden had swallowed the key, never to be seen again. It wasn't until he decided to let go and rid himself of his possessions that ironically possessed him, that his life began to shift down a path of meaning, of connection, of purpose, of passion. Reading Everything That Remains is like taking one's journal and diving into a sea of genuine rawness that only comes from the depths of their soul.

The book beautifully illustrates the discontent in Joshua's life that transformed into a life that is simple, joyful, exciting, and fulfilling. Even though it is a life far from perfect, it is a life that is much more manageable and meaningful. It is living with less stuff so that you actually end up with more of the things that truly matter. Forming deeper connections with other humans and pursuing your calling far outweigh the stress and associated burdens that come with climbing the corporate ladder or pursuing work that doesn't add value to yours or others' lives.

Many people spend their entire lives searching for meaning, for purpose, for fulfillment, for contentment, for happiness, but they are searching in all the wrong places. Nothing from the extrinsic world is going to satisfy that longing deep down in your soul which can only be found in pursuing what lights you up inside and in contributing to the lives of others. One of the main messages inside the book is this... You can decide to be happy today. Not tomorrow, not next week, but today is the day you can make that decision for yourself.


Joshua faces many challenges along his journey, and it was a joy to discover how he faced those challenges head on in search of his ideal life. A culmination of events and introductions to other minimalists paved the way for theminimalists.com to be born alongside Ryan Nicodemus. The creation of this blog caused an avalanche of success to fall upon Joshua's and Ryan's lives after multiple months of time and energy focused on spreading their message to as many people as possible.

Ryan and Joshua have completed shifted my perspective on material possessions and the consumerism mindset as a whole. I am now, as a result, more focused on creating and contributing instead of being bogged down by things I don't need and more importantly, never wanted in the first place. One of the biggest shifts for me was realizing that it wasn't really me that wanted the fancy cars or the designer clothing, instead it was the slimy, culminating effect of clever advertising over the last 34 years of my existence.

Quick takeaways from

the book as a fellow author:

Expanded vocabulary and deliberate sentence structure

Joshua, being the talented writer that he is, writes in an intricate, intimate manner that boldly captures each scene he illustrates throughout the book. One sentence in particular was the longest sentence I have ever read. While enjoying its structure, I couldn't help but wonder, “Will this sentence ever end”? My mind has been opened to a vocabulary full of descriptive, meaningful words that will enhance my ability to vividly articulate each moment.

A strong resistance against materialism

Seeing advertisements on television, the internet, or on billboards driving down the highway, didn't seem to bother me too much in the past. Ever since reading Everything That Remains, I view advertisements in a negative light because they are showing me things that I don't want to own. I now am more deliberate in my spending, only purchasing items that add value to my life, oftentimes getting rid of one or more items I already own to make room in my home.

A deeper longing for simple living

Life is more simple with less stuff to bog you down. When focus is put towards the important parts of life, everything else falls into place. Letting go of unneeded possessions is an ongoing process, but is one well-worth the journey. The truth of the matter is, we have limited time on this earth, so why waste that time on frivolous trinkets and toys that will end up collecting dust on a shelf somewhere? The longing for simple living has increased in my mind and in my heart since reading this book.

Peace of mind

With my mindset shifted away from accumulating unnecessary things, it allows me as a writer to have a clear head when I dive into each creative session knowing I am managing less possessions. Peace of mind is extremely important, especially being a father and a husband who needs to remain calm in many, if not all situations. Keeping a clear head allows for a rush of positive emotions to flow through me while keeping negative emotions at bay. The result is a life filled with passionate, productive, meaningful moments to cherish long into the future.

Everything That Remains is a book that was not only read feverishly cover to cover, but it also gave me a much needed inspirational boost that transcends multiple facets of my life. Now that I have completed this book, I am going to start applying the lessons to my own habits and also start looking at the other books The Minimalists have published. Not only do they write books, but new podcasts are also available for listen on Spotify and YouTube for free.

A huge aspect of The Minimalists that speaks volumes to me is the fact that they practice what they preach. Joshua and Ryan demonstrate what it looks like to live a meaningful life with less by setting the example and minimizing their spaces first, then showing the world how to do it second. That fact is admirable and proves that genuine, transparent people on the internet do indeed exist.

Thank you for reading. ✦

*No compensation has been paid by The Minimalists for publishing this article. Everything was written out of pure gratitude for a message that changed me from the inside out.*

Additional articles you may be interested in...

Minimalism: Get Rid of Stress by Living with Less

Living with Freedom of Choice

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