Less stuff as a key to happiness
How much stuff is enough?
As everyone’s heard and no one quite believes, money can’t buy happiness. Conspicuously missing from this comforting adage is a model of someone who could afford everything but preferred to live with very little.
We don’t mean a person who struck it rich and was still miserable — there’s a long list of lottery winners to cite for that. We’re talking about being able to buy virtually anything that can be purchased but just plain not wanting to. If there are wealthy people like that out there, it seems they’re all hiding away on their private islands.
Then along comes Graham Hill. Writing in The New York Times ("Living With Less. A Lot Less"), this self-described “compulsive entrepreneur” cashed in big on his Internet company, TreeHugger.com, and went on to make millions more with new businesses of his own invention. Initially he indulged as so many others fantasize, buying a huge house and stuffing it with classy furniture, high-end appliances, great gadgets and a sharp car. When work took him across the country from Seattle to New York, he took on a second dwelling and filled his huge downtown loft with another set of stuff.
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But soon Hill found that excess belongings added stress instead of satisfaction. And his conviction is that he’s not alone in feeling that excess material possessions can complicate and add anxiety to a life unnecessarily.
He cites the work of U.C.L.A. researchers who found that all the mothers in a group of middle-class families experienced a spike in stress hormones during the time they spent dealing with their belongings. Three out of every four of the families couldn’t even park their cars in their garages because they were so full of things.
Hill has since pared down his belongings to lead an austere but, by his account, immeasurably happier life. He now lives in a 420-square-foot studio apartment — and still has the space to host dinner for 12 and have 4 friends stay overnight (the NYT article serves his new venture, LifeEdited.com, quite well). He has no car, and runs his businesses from anywhere in the world with just the laptop he fits in his solar backpack.
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Most of us have a basement, bedroom or at least a closet that would give Mr. Hill a twitch in his eye. We relate more easily to the subjects on “Hoarders,” A&E’s sad series about people buried in their own possessions. The clear message on that show is that material things can clutter not only a home, but a mind.
As Hill concludes, “after a certain point, material objects have a tendency to crowd out the emotional needs they are meant to support.”
Photo: Jana Leon/Getty Images
I'm so glad that millionare found happiness. Now back to work so I can feed my kid.
After years of relatively hard work, frugal life choices and some lucky investments, my wife and I found ourselves in a financial position to buy just about anything we want.
We are both in agreement, that knowing we can buy or aquire "things" is just as rewarding as having them. Waking every morning not worrying if the car conks out or the frig quits running is gratifying.
I say,less is more, but then I look and find those old memories,again. I really feel like this stuff owns me! Each year I pack my car several times for charity,the rest just holds me hostage for another season. I will try, again soon. The junk mail is getting out of hand,too. Gonna clean,like there"s no tomorrow. Soon...The thought was good though!
That lifestyle isn't uniquely Buddhist. Although I respect Buddhism, it was Jesus Christ whom stated, "It is easier for a rich man to pass through the eye of a needle, than to enter the Kingdom of Heaven." And he was correct in that.
But wealth has been the embarrassment of over-achievers for millennia. And we cannot all subsist on government aid. Who'll pay our bills? So, be sure to leave a nice sum to a charity of your choice when you pass. And do not die without a will.
There. No more problem.
420 roughly equals a 20.5 x 20.5 room (off the top of my head), or a configuration about the size of a large RV. Have you ever spent the night in a travel trailer with 4 people - and one bathroom? My dining room is 11x10 and I can barely fit a modest dining table to seat six people with enough room to stand up and move around the table. I read in another article about this that he only owns four plates, cups, glasses, etc. So are these 12 comfortable dinner guests eating off the floor? No, because he undoubtedly either has these dinner parties catered or he rents the necessary servingware. You can do that when you're rich. This is such B.S.
I'm guessing at some point he's going to ge claustrophobic and move into a 5-star hotel. Those who live this reality out of necessity don't have that option.
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