Like its austere doppelgänger minimalism, essentialism dislikes excess. But you don’t have to wear only black, drink coffee without cream or purge your secondhand books to hone life to a fine point. Although living sparely has its virtues, the grand task of essential living is to uncover the elements that bring us rapture. The thing that encumbers one person is often the buoyant must-have of another. If you search online for “things people can’t live without, ” you’ll find lists including anything from a morning cup of coffee to punctuation and a good cry every now and then. We’ve all witnessed the caprices of another: A friend of mine can’t go a day without drinking a shot of melting chocolate, and another never travels without his pillow, stuffing the goose-down rectangle into This story is from Kinfolk Issue Sixteen Buy Now Related Stories Arts & Culture Issue 45 The Whole Story The power of cradle-to-grave novels. Arts & Culture Issue 43 Signal Boost How status anxiety drives culture. Arts & Culture Issue 41 Mixed Emoji Is a picture worth a thousand words? Arts & Culture Issue 38 Social Work Hettie O’Brien considers the cost of never logging off. Arts & Culture Issue 38 Memes of Communication A conversation about digital folklore. Arts & Culture Issue 36 Designated Drudgery How to take a load off.