Sitting in Ernest Bar Café waiting to address a room full of minimalists from across the North East, Melissa Cain wonders how she ended up here.
As co-creator of the Mind Palace podcast, Sunderland-born Melissa now inspires tens of thousands of people across the world to live intentionally and embrace what really matters, but her journey started three years ago, working in retail and hating it.
“Something wasn’t right. I wanted to do something I really enjoyed, not a 9-5 job I hated. I stumbled across The Minimalists on Pinterest and devoured their work. It was perfect.”
The Minimalists are US-based Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, who help 20 million followers live meaningful lives with less. Their popularity has exploded over the past year, propelled by their documentary on Netflix.
“Their message really resonated. I realised none of us has to do what everyone else does; we don’t have to be constantly on the treadmill. It changed everything.”
She quickly saw the benefits of her new lifestyle. “I’d held onto so much stuff – things that were broken, forgotten, things I didn’t even like – and realised how much it was holding me back. I got rid of loads, and it was the freest I’d felt in my whole life.”
Reaching out online, she got talking to Jessica Lynn Williams from Chicago. “She was the same age, a woman attempting to live the same lifestyle. One day she said ‘this is crazy but do you want to do a podcast with me?’ I said yes immediately.”
by letting go of stuff, you regain so much peace of mind
Melissa flew to Los Angeles to meet Jess. It turned out that she had recently met The Minimalists, and they loved the show. “I was terrified they were listening! But we asked them to sponsor the Mind Palace, and they said yes.”
Now entering its third season, the show has evolved from a focus on minimalism to an eclectic mix of topics, recently including free-speech, beauty, language and artificial intelligence. “People enjoy how candid our conversations are, so we opened it up hugely to see what we could talk about that still linked back to living a well-curated life.”
While the Mind Palace goes from strength to strength, thousands of people are connecting at hundreds of local meetup groups – globe-wide ‘branches’ of The Minimalists overseen by Jess. The Newcastle minimalists meet monthly at Ernest, and as the room fills with an eclectic mix of regulars and new faces Melissa is readying herself to talk about her journey, empowering people to not only live well-curated lives and be happier with less, but to help reshape the world.
together we have a really big voice
“This has been without a doubt one of the most empowering things I’ve ever done. By letting go of stuff, you regain so much peace of mind, so we should ask questions of everyone who is selling us things. Who made this? What are their ethical practices? Together we have a really big voice, and if enough people ask they’ll listen. It’s just a question of asking.”