Monday, May 1, 2017

Soul Sustenance: Less is More: Three Reasons People Who Have Less “Stuff” are Happier

            Our world is like a large wall of neon signs that read “buy me”, “you must have me”, “I’m the answer,” etc. There are so many tempting things everywhere that we cannot help but be curious about. Shiny trinkets for our wrists and fingers; fun toys that will let us feel like we’re moving as fast as lightning; and let’s not forget the gismos, gadgets, and adventures that everyone is having. We want in on all these things, but rarely consider if we can afford the buy-in.

            “Stuff” costs money, and not just dollars and credit card bills. It can also cost us emotional currency, because we may start to see what we own as more valuable than the people in our lives. There is also a potential to begin to associate our own value with what we have, compared to what’s inside.

            It’s time to slow down the desire to buy, buy, buy, and begin to invest in something that will never lose value—you. There are a million things to experience in this world, and they don’t have to clutter your closet, occupy your garage, or be stacked up on your end table with a ring of dust around them.
 Here are three reasons people who have less “stuff” are happier.

1.     There is less obligation to “stuff”, which leaves more time to experience life
For the most part, everything we own needs some sort of attention at one time or another. Cars and luxury purchases need maintenance, maybe even insurance and other protections. Small little things create clutter that makes us feel cramped in our own space. And when we look in our closet and find twenty shirts that we have yet to wear (and they’re already out of style), it’s safe to say we have a problem. Happy people prefer to not invest in temporary pleasures that don’t offer long term happiness. There’s too much to do—like connecting with people and pursuing their passions.

2.     They remove the stress of affording all that “stuff”
Few things can zap happiness away like knowing that all the money you earn is going toward all these purchases you made yesterday, or even long ago. Financial woes are a serious problem for many people, and the cause of personally distressing situations. By finding the happiness that exists in life that is not attached to “stuff”, happy people manage to have many amazing adventures. Better yet, if they decide something is worth saving up for and buying, they find a way to enjoy the journey to the purchase.
3.     They are self-aware that it’s what is inside them that generates true happiness
Once you experience what it is like to live a life that is fueled by happiness generated from within you, you’ll never want to go back to the artificial happiness that comes from “stuff”. Through a lens of appreciation for what you have in your life you’ll better be able to assess if any physical object is really a good addition to a happier life for you. This will become intuitive over time.
            Are you still not convinced that happiness isn’t tied to “stuff”? Think of how children can be so happy to run around and use their imaginations to make for a happy, fun-filled day. The hint is right there. Children never ask for a lot of things to make them happy, unless they are seeing how the adults in their lives do that. They learn from us, and we can learn inside happiness and appreciation for the moment from them.
            Next time you’re tempted to buy something just because it gives you goosebumps of delight when you see it, think twice. If it’s worth having, it’ll be worth going back to get. Overall, more often than not, you may want it, but you seldom need it to be happy.


Lisa Cypers Kamen, MA is an internationally recognized applied positive psychology coach, author, speaker, documentary filmmaker and host of the popular radio show Harvesting Happiness, where she has helped millions of people around the world generate more joy and fulfilment in their life. Her new book Are We Happy Yet: Eight Keys to Unlocking a Joyful Life released in March, 2017. For more information, visit

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