Why less stuff = more happiness

September 26, 2016

I don’t know about you but I really don’t like “stuff”. You know, the type of stuff and things and bits and bobs that clutter up spaces or are stored away never to be seen for a year…but you know they’re there, lurking.

We live in a modern world where travel and experience are valued over material objects. We expect the most from our technology, packing as many functions into one source as possible. Portability is essential and so the items we own are getting smaller and smaller. So why is it that our homes are still bursting with items we don’t need or even like?

When I travel, I desire a capsule wardrobe that will fit into a carry on so that I can hop off the plane and begin my trip, and not be confused by having to choose between outfits.

What would our lives be like if we only lived with what we actually needed? A bit like just having a carry on suitcase.

Should we be tied to property? Invest all our hard earned cash into what is essentially a roof over our heads? (with lots of potential for broken boilers, damp and debt)

I don’t foresee being able to afford to buy a house, like many other 30 somethings who are having to move back in with their parents or live in cramped flats. So in the meantime what is the practical alternative?

Elizabeth Danon Interior Therapy EDIT - plants and candles

I’ve spent what feels like all of 2016 clearing out years of stuff, and yes it has taken me that long and I’m still going! It honestly sometimes feels as though this stuff is growing in size and I’m battling against it.

All of my possessions just about fit in a large van when I moved house. Now I have my furniture in the garage and various other bags and boxes.

At the moment my room is my bedroom and also my office #smallspaceliving :/

So I have my desk, laptop, screen, printer, minimal paper files, camera equipment, interiors books and magazines for reference and my art materials. Even that can sometimes feel like a lot in a small space, but I’ve even reduced down what’s in that area so that I only have what I actually use. Each week I do a clear out mainly of papers that I no longer need.

For the bedroom part of it I have a bed (luckily) 2 sets of bed linen and some decorative cushions, to turn it into a sort of mini sofa during the day.

When it comes to my clothes I have gotten rid of roughly 10 bin bags of clothes in the last 8 months. I now only have 40 items hanging, 8 pairs of shoes and a bag of coats in the garage for when it gets colder. I’m sure I’ll reduce down my coats too, I’m embarrassed to say that I had over 30 coats.

Elizabeth Danon Interior Therapy EDIT - my office

When I talk to my clients I ask them a set of questions, one of which is “what are the 5 items you would take from your home if you could take nothing else?”

The resulting answers are always interesting. Most people will answer with items such as old photographs, maybe their laptop for work purposes and sentimental handmade items or things that have been passed down for years through their families.

People no longer value objects as much as they used to. Value is instead found in travel, meeting new people and seeking healthy outdoor lifestyles.

What’s key here is making the best of our lives, finding out what makes us happy and potentially what might be blocking us from leading a fulfilling life each day. Sometimes the source of unhappiness is our own homes, which can be difficult to realise. This is where a mindful approach comes in.

Being aware of our physical surroundings and the effect they have on us individually, gives us insight into what triggers a feeling of happiness and unhappiness. This is individual to each and every one of us.

As an example if you were to print out a large image of a beautiful landscape from a holiday you went on, whenever you look at that image you are likely to feel nostalgic, happy and content. Whereas if you have an object in your home which has come with you from a bad time, the emotional significance attached to that object could indirectly be having a negative effect on you, and therefore tainting a lot of what surrounds it in your home.

Enjoying a home and having a base can feel very comforting indeed, especially if you have everything you desire and need. But think for a moment about what your home really means to you – are there particular items you value above all else? If so, why? Are there any items you’re unsure of, possibly even clothing that you hold on to but never wear? Why is that?

 

There’s no real conclusion to this blog post, but I wanted to get you questioning what you have in your home in order to figure out how you might adapt it to help you lead a happy life. Buying all sorts of things because we think we need them actually ends up with us feeling worse. The initial peak of satisfaction we might get from a new item of clothing or a fancy TV rapidly declines soon after we purchase it. Items that provide a function and are beautiful at the same time will keep us satisfied. Tiny example below – candle and ornament in one!

 

Elizabeth Danon Interior Therapy EDIT - details


If you’re concerned that you have too much stuff, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do you really need it?
  2. Does it make you happy?
  3. Would someone else benefit from it instead?

Replacement is also a wonderful thing. If you’re able to sell some of your furniture or clothing, bunch that money together to buy something really worthwhile and treat it as an investment for your future. A good example is a really decent mattress.

If you’re not yet convinced on minimising, let this chap talk first. I came across this Ted Talk by Graham Hill which talks about the edited life, basically what I believe in and what my business is all about! 

As well as having less stuff, Graham Hill says that living in a smaller space is better for the environment and will save you money. His main tips are:

  1. Edit ruthlessly
  2. Think small
  3. Make multi-functional

Since clearing out what I no longer need, I’m not worrying about all the hoarded items that are stagnant in the garage or sitting around my living space unused.

Items that I now have feel as though they actually have greater value. Less is more!