The Freedom of the Underdog: 5-Minute Simplifying


By Josh Rueff on June 05, 2013

The classic underdog story of Rudy moves just anyone with a soul to tears. Braveheart is even better (or worse if you hate showing your emotions).

Rags to riches stories never fail to inspire, and for me personally, it’s just not possible to watch an underdog without hoping they can muster the willpower to overcome the odds.

Why do we have such an appreciation for the underdog?

My first instinct to say that it’s because we can identify with them – everyone’s been an underdog at some point or another, and most of us probably feel like an underdog right now.

In this study psychologist Joseph Vandello shows how people will always root for the underdog by observing how people took sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. When Israel was portrayed as the underdog, people expressed sympathy and support for them. When Palestine was portrayed as the underdog, they supported them.

Whether our support is rational or irrational, underdogs always have one thing in common; one trait that moves us all to empathize and cheer them on.

The common trait is freedom.

They always have a “bigger” oppressor, and that antagonist is usually symbolic of a more important internal conflict with a more abstract enemy like fear, social status, or some kind of emotional, mental, or physical weakness. 

When the underdog overcomes, he hasn’t simply beaten a better football team, or out boxed a superior fighter; he’s earned some form of freedom from the oppressors he fights against.

And that’s precisely what we relate with.

We all have our own deeply personal enemies: Fear, social boundaries, poverty, debt, addiction to safety, invisible ceilings, lack of appreciation, emotional scars from the past – we have so many enemies to conquer. And it’s time to do just that!

The Challenge

Take 5 minutes out of your day to define – define – define:

1. Define Freedom.

2. Define your enemies.

3. Define what Minimalism is to you.

The first steps to winning any fight are:

1. Knowing your opponent.

2. Having the motivation to fight and overcome that enemy.

3. Developing a strategy to win.

There are many paths a Minimalist can take to overcome, and for me this has been the most effective route to victory.

Good luck and I hope you win your fight! 



  1. greenminimalism June 5, 2013 at 5:01 pm #

    Great post. I think that my enemy is myself – that voice always urging me towards the easy path. Fortunately I have the willpower to avoid it, and am still quite young – too bad about most people who might like our lifestyles but are too locked in to ever get here!



    • Josh June 12, 2013 at 7:11 am #

      Thanks Eric, I appreciate it! Yeah, I hear ya – It’s strange how life is a constant internal struggle against oneself, especially where discipline of lifestyle is concerned. I wonder if there’s ever a point where the battle is completely won? I kind of doubt it.


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