How Much Stuff Is Too Much Stuff? The Art of Downsizing
In the 80s comedian George Carlin went on a tirade, making fun of western society's almost knee jerk reaction to obtaining—and hoarding—stuff. "The whole meaning of life is trying to find a place for your stuff," he said. Though his rant happened over three decades ago, people are increasingly sounding alarm bells over our dependence on material items: gadgets, clothes, and technology and the affect it's all having on our well being, not to mention the planet. The discussion points towards the value of weening ourselves off of the collection of stuff to bring about happiness.
This month at a GreenBiz Forum, Patagonia's inspiring founder Yvon Chouinard urged the audience to buy less, warning, "We're no longer citizens, we're called consumers." Similarly, author Graham Hill recently talked about his struggle with consumption for the New York Times, "Somehow this stuff ended up running my life, or a lot of it; the things I consumed ended up consuming me," he wrote, before describing how he was able to simplify his life by getting rid of the bulk of his belongings. His site Life Edited—which offers ways to be happy with less stuff, space and energy—is just one of many online platforms popping up to creatively address this theme.
The trend indicates that people are realizing (what Buddhists knew all along) that material wealth doesn't lead to contentment, but rather suffering—for ourselves, and the Earth. The Dalai Lama wrote in The Path to Enlightenment, "A materialistic mind is an unstable mind, for its happiness is built on transient, physical circumstances." His Holiness was spot on with that sentiment, but humans are creatures of habit, and we've been conditioned to consume, so the process of letting go will be a slow one. In the meantime the more people who speak up about the drawbacks of padding ourselves with things, the more it will be in our collective unconscious. And of course, the more that individuals—like George Carlin—use humor to tackle the subject, the more fun it will to stop stockpiling "stuff."
Are you ready to simplify your life? Learn about five creative ways to "upsize your life by downsizing," and add this to your to-do list here.