Stories from Dr. Yukari, Story #23, Minimalists

[ Stories from Dr. Yukari ]

Guided by the hope of St. Nichiren, we continue to work towards a peaceful society. Honolulu Myohoji Mission collaborates with Psychologist Dr. Yukari Kunisue, a trained and experienced therapeutic life coach, to offer a safe online space: Stories from Dr. Yukari



Highschool classmates Ryan and Josh both grew up in households receiving welfare in Ohio. Josh’s mom was a drug addict and Ryan frequently witnessed domestic violence at an early age before his parents got divorced. 


Growing up, they had the ultimate goal of making money. They determined that with money comes happiness, or so they thought. In order to bring their American dreams to fruition, they began working at a high-tech phone company receiving generous salaries. Once they received their paychecks and commission payments, they purchased everything from houses, cars, computers, sporting goods, clothing, and furniture. In reality, they ended up spending more than they had earned. Despite their new lavish lifestyles, they never felt fully content. They also noticed a strain on relationships with loved ones. 


According to a survey, an average American family owns up to 300,000 things. Everything including a large TV screen, an untouched dining room table, or even gifts kept in its original box. So many of these objects take up a lot of physical space in our lives. Yet, many continue to rush to the mall whenever a sale begins. We also tend to buy gifts whether or not the receiver wants or needs the item. It has become natural to feel uneasy without buying and accumulating goods, we often feel that something is not quite right. 


Ryan recalled, “I realized my life then was not that different from my parents’ lives.” During this time, his weight had increased as a result of his excessive drinking and recreational drug use. Despite having material wealth, he was constantly irritated and felt depressed. 


Around the same time, Josh had lost his marriage and his mother passed away from lung cancer. This moment in time became a turning point for Josh where he stopped and looked within himself. He set out to seek the real purpose in life. He asked himself, “what is real happiness?”


First, Josh took a step back and set out to start his new life by cutting off access to TV, cable, and internet. For a while, he lived without a cellphone. He also donated his clothes unless he wore it within the last 90 days. All of his keepsake photos were digitalized. He also disciplined himself to only purchase groceries that were on his list. He even sold his two houses cutting down on a lot of his possessions. After embracing this new minimalistic lifestyle, he shared the concept with his best friend Ryan. 


Ryan followed suit and began his minimalistic lifestyle as well. Once they made this lifestyle change, they began to meet different types of people including a freedom traveler with only a small backpack, young people living out of a tiny house, and meditators who focus on building wealth within. Giving up can often mean gaining more. Conceptually, minimalism is derived from modern architecture and art. Simplified designs and patterns were originally from various parts of Asia and it is even seen in the Ryoanji Temple in Japan. Minimalism attracts both old and new generations who were growing tired of excessive materialism and consumerism. 


Joshua Millburn and Ryan Niodemus call themselves minimalists. They now have over 200,000 subscribers to their podcast. Many of us were struck by their slogan which is often repeated:


Love People, Use Things.

Because the Opposite Never Works.