Can Having Less Stuff Lead to More Happiness?

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can having less give you more

Today I found myself completely and utterly absorbed in a Canadian fellow’s blog post about minimalism. Check it out -here-

John describes his simple life in Japan, after making the move from Calgary, Canada. He comments on culling his possessions as being liberating, as it frees up more time to focus on doing what makes you happy. This shift from consumerism means we stop wasting time shopping, flicking through catalogs and surfing the web for new things to buy. We aren’t washing our cars or constantly searching for cushions to match a new picture in the living room. These regular time consuming chores are eliminated.

The problem is that the more we consume, the more we need to consume. If we buy a bigger house, we need more furniture. If we buy a bigger shelf, we need to buy more books to fill it with.

The minimalistic way of living is certainly going against the grain, as there is a huge societal pressure to conform to materialism and impress peers with our purchases. It’s easy to get caught up in consumerism but you don’t have to be a victim.

I recommend you watch Graham Hill’s Ted talk on Can having less stuff lead to more happiness? 


Hill’s answer is YES. He proposes that we consider the benefits of a simple life and questions whether less equals more. The facts are:

– Americans have 3 times the amount of space we had 50 years ago.
– The personal storage industry is valued at $2.2 billion.
– We are in more debt than ever before

Hill started a project called Life Edited. This entailed sourcing out and buying a 420 by 420 square foot apartment in NYC. It wasn’t big but it was designed to house himself and his favourite things and he was happy to be there. Not to mention, he saved a ton of money on utilities and decreased his carbon footprint.

Hill’s mantra is small is sexy. Why have a six burner stove when you barely ever use three?

Hill suggests that we need to “Clear the arteries of our lives” and donate clothes that haven’t been worn in years.

The dictionary definition of materialism is as follows:

1 a tendency to consider material possessions and physical comfort as more important than spiritual values. they hated the sinful materialism of the wicked city.

2 Philosophy the theory or belief that nothing exists except matter and its movements and modifications.

3 The theory or belief that consciousness and will are wholly due to material agency.

Hill believes that spontaneous, often disposable indulgences won’t bring much happiness and may actually leave you with feelings of emptiness, regret and guilt.

If you have ever experienced living out of a backpack or traveling and staying in a hotel room, you may agree that less equals more. These experiences give you more time and freedom.

About the author

Kim Logan