Does Stuff Really Make Us Happy?
Does Stuff Really Make Us Happy?
I recently read an amazing book called Sustainable Minimalism by Stephanie Marie Seferian, and I have to say I was blown away.
I'm not trying to be a minimalist, but....
Firstly, I want to stress that I am not trying to be a minimalist. I like stuff and I enjoy collecting things that fascinate me. But, what I don't like is waste, excess plastic, unnecessary packaging, and the disposable single use lifestyle we have become part of.
Why I bought the book
My reason for buying the book was to learn how to live a less cluttered life where I don't feel guilty about my impact on the environment.
- I want space to think and breathe, while not giving up what's important to me.
- I want to find comfort and joy in the purchases I make and the things I own.
- I want to repair, re-purpose and reuse as much as possible before recycling and throwing away.
I don't want to look around at white walls and even whiter furniture hosting a single book and a pot plant. I like my shelves to be full of potential. But, I am aware that not all of my purchases are necessary, worth the money or justified, and that's the issue I want to resolve.
Does stuff make us happy?
As I scroll through Instagram, I am faced with marketing from businesses demonstrating how their products can make me happier. And, as a sales person's dream, I fall for it often. We live in a world where we are conditioned to believe that happiness lies in stuff, and it's quite a challenge to see it any other way.
But what if the accumulation of stuff leads to buyers remorse, debt, clutter and more rubbish going to the landfill? Then surely not all purchases of stuff are making us happy.
We then really have to ask ourselves, "if we are not happy, then why are we doing it?"
What is minimalism?
Minimalism is the intentional choice to live with less. Some of the reasons for this choice is to:
- Free up your time
- Provide mental clarity
- Improve financial stability
- & Save the planet
Minimalism doesn't have to be extreme, where everything you own can fit into one overnight bag. Instead, it can be as simple as making sensible choices about what you purchase.
What is decluttering?
Minimalism and decluttering are different things. While transitioning to a minimalist lifestyle often requires a good declutter, decluttering is often wasteful and cyclic. What I mean is that people who declutter tend to do it regularly after periods of buying more and more stuff. They're trapped in a cycle of purchase and throw away, which is bad for the planet and the pocket.
What is overbuying?
The thing that needs to be addressed is the purchasing process. The root cause of why we have too much stuff in the first place.
Overbuying is the act of purchasing things you don't really need or want just because you can. Perhaps something looked like a good deal, you fell for the marketing (we all do BTW), or you use shopping as form of therapy. Whatever the reason, most of us buy way more than we should.
Try to focus on reduction
As I mentioned at the start, I want to spend less money, make better purchasing decisions, and live a more sustainable and eco-friendly life. To do this, I plan to focus on reduction.
Reduction is about:
- Owning less
- Needing less
- Desiring less
I want to explore my relationship with spending money, buying things on a whim, and all the reasons behind it.
Why does this topic trigger people?
I shared a post on social media about how much I enjoyed the book Sustainable Minimalism, and I was surprised by the reactions in the comments.
It appears that any talk of living with less triggers a fear of things being taken away. Perhaps we link self-worth into the items we own. Or maybe because we have to work hard for the money we spend we feel personally connected to each item. Or is it as simple as feeling guilty and a little ashamed about our habits, money wasted, and impact on the planet?
Whatever the reason, I know this isn't always an easy subject to raise. This is why I plan to talk openly about my journey and share my insights along the way.
My sustainability plans
I will go into more details in future articles, but here's an outline of what I'm planning to work with
- Learn to take my time with purchase decisions and avoid places like Amazon, where often more items end up in my basket.
- Be more discerning about what I buy, and wait to save up for something that will last longer or is more eco-friendly, rather than buy something cheaper and less robust
- Use refillable products where possible, and choose items with less packaging where I can.
- Shop local and choose handmade locally sourced items when available
- And for larger items, such as electricals, do my research and look for energy efficient items made by companies with good eco-policies, even if it means I have to wait and save up, as I will save money in the long run through my energy bills.
If this is resonating with you, and you would like to gradually make some small changes over time that will make a big difference to the planet and your purse, then check out the book Sustainable Minimalism, as it's a great place to get some initial ideas.
Also, sign up for my newsletter, where I will share regular updates on my sustainable journey.
Tell me your thoughts
- How do you feel about living with less, saving money and helping the planet?
- Does it feel doable or impossible in your life?
- Let me know in the comments below.
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