Is less really more? Actually the surprising answer is yes. At least it can be if you have the right attitude and outlook. So many people spend a great deal of time and energy trying to acquire “stuff”. They think that having more stuff somehow makes them more. They think that acquiring wealth or the things that it buys will bring them happiness and they spend most of their lives chasing that carrot when in actuality happiness is more of a choice than a destination.
My decision to stop accumulating so much stuff was based in environmental ideals. As a society we Americans use and waste way too much, more than our fair share. I decided to try and better myself by reducing the amount of waste and excess in my life. One small change lead to another, and another, and another. Soon my life was nothing at all like it had been and yet I was happier than ever. Having less brought us more happiness than tons of stuff ever did. When you have fewer items, you appreciate them more and, ultimately, those items are used more fully and add more to your life. This is the essence of the “less is more” principle.
When you have less stuff in your life, you have the potential to have more of the following:
1. Meaningful relationships – When you are not distracted by clutter and things and the latest demands being made on you, you have more time for people. Relationships are more fulfilling than inanimate objects and by choosing to live simply you find that you work harder to develop and maintain relationships.
2. Simplicity – Gadgets and toys require responsibility. First you have to trade in time (aka years of your life spent working) to be able to afford them. You also have to clean, maintain, and store all of these things – cars have to be washed and taken in for oil changes and other maintenance, electronic gadgets need to be upgraded, and toys take up space in your home. Things complicate your life.
3. Gratitude – When you can’t just throw something away and replace it with the latest, greatest thing, you develop a sense of appreciation for what you do have. You are more likely to take care of your possessions and be more selective about what you buy.
4. A clutter-free and tidy home – Your home should be your refuge, the place where you invite people or spend time alone, where you reconnect with family and relax. It can also be your workplace. If it’s messy, you may find yourself distracted and frustrated and unable to relax. Your life may resemble the chaos that it is your home. Sound familiar? Less stuff equals more inner peace, basically, since you have fewer stressors surrounding you.
5. Contentment – It gives you a sense of relief and great liberation to know you are not trying to keep up with anyone or spend too much money on things you don’t really need. It is great feeling to be able to step back from the materialistic world around you and think “I am not buying into that”. A good book to read to explore this further is Love Your Life, Not Theirs.
6. Closeness to nature – Having a bigger television, video games, an awesome laptop, and the latest version of the iPhone or Samsung Galaxy (even though there was nothing wrong with your old one) means you are spending large amounts of time indoors or connected to a screen. Without those distractions you actually live life instead of watching it.
7. Better health – Stress affects our health, and stress can be greatly exacerbated by excessive stuff. Letting go of those sources of stress is good for your physical and mental health. Peace, contentment, gratitude, simplicity, and health all go hand in hand. And then there is the practical health issue – many items can be toxic to our health directly. Plastics for instance, can be cause for concern, possibly causing illness and disorders. New products and furnishings also off-gas for a time. The less plastic and new stuff in your life, the healthier you’ll be.
8. Financial security – One of the most compelling arguments against consumerism is that it promotes debt. Debt equals big time unhappiness. Think carefully about your wants and needs BEFORE you buy. You can also save money by making gifts yourself or employing other creative gift-giving ideas. The drive to have more and more – either for yourself or for giving to others – can set you up for financial difficulties and even financial ruin.
Our peace, contentment, and satisfaction with our lives can all be undermined by the pursuit and accumulation of “things”. Hopefully you will consider these eight reasons to change all that.