INSIDE: Twenty discussion questions from “Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things” for parents to talk about with their tween or teen.

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Want to talk to your tween or teen about minimalism, but not sure where to start? Pop on over to Netflix and watch Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things together.

Currently, there are two documentaries by The Minimalist on Netflix, but I’d stick with the original 2016 film. The most recent addition is a filmed theatrical rendition of the live show they had been touring. Definitely start with Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things first!

If you don’t think your tween or teen will be willing to sit through the entire documentary, have them commit to the first five minutes of the film. The twenty powerful questions below focus on the first few minutes of the movie!

Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things (Official Trailer)

Documentary Summary

How might your life be better with less? Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things examines the many flavors of minimalism by taking the audience inside the lives of minimalists from all walks of life — families, entrepreneurs, architects, artists, journalists, scientists, and even a former Wall Street broker — all of whom are striving to live a meaningful life with less.

Parent Discussion Guide for Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things

  1. What do you think about the idea of people being always “on the hunt” for stuff?
  2. Do you know what the word “habitual” means when he explains this is an “automatic habitual behavior” we do each day without thinking? 
  3. Do you think being aware of this instinctual behavior can help change our behavior?
  4. Black Friday is a uniquely American tradition. Why do you think crowds of people act this way at a store?
  5. What do YOU think it means to be “successful” as an adult?
  6. Have you ever felt like, “If only I had this, I’d be happy” (a toy, a piece of clothing, a phone, a video game, etc)? How did you feel after you got that item? Where is that item now?
  7. Do you think you can buy happiness? Why or why not?
  8. Have you ever heard the term “living from paycheck to paycheck”? What do you think it means?
  9. What do you think the narrator means when he says, “I was living for stuff, but I wasn’t living at all”?
  10. At a time in history when the people around us have such nice homes and so much stuff, why do you think people are continually longing to buy more?
  11. Why do you think early humans were programmed to automatically “crave more”? What do you think it means to be driven by a “biologically-based delusional craving”?
  12. How could this constant “longing for more” have helped early cavemen stay alive? Is this longing for more or biological craving still relevant to us today? 
  13. Why do you think lottery winners end up being so unhappy?
  14. Can you think of an item you have two (or more) of, even though you really only need one? 
  15. Did you feel a rush and joy with the first purchase and then get a second one because you tired of the first, even though it was still in good condition?
  16. What do you think it means to “be wired to be dissatisfied”? Have you noticed this in yourself?
  17. Do you believe our society is addicted to buying stuff? Why or why not? Have you noticed this in our family?
  18. How does technology play a role in encouraging addiction to stuff?
  19. Do any of your friends have Instagram accounts? What kind of photos do they share?
  20. Does it matter if people on Instagram or Snapchat share an “illusion of a perfect life” rather than sharing the true ups-and-downs of real life?


Have you ever noticed brand or ad placement in movies, TV shows, and books?

“Advertising has polluted and infiltrated culture. It’s in our movies, it’s in our television shows, it’s in our books, it’s in our doctor’s offices.”

— Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things

Moving forward, make a game of finding these hidden messages with your kids when you’re watching TV shoes and movies. Seeing the subconscious ads marketer place is first step to being a conscious consumer.

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