Living with Less…

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In a recent Op Ed article in The New York Times, Graham Hill tells the story of how he accumulated so much stuff after he sold his start-up company that he came to feel that he did not own the things he bought but they ended up owning him. Although he’s unusual in getting a windfall from the sale of a tech start-up, he’s like many of us whose life is cluttered with excess belongings.

Hill went on to create TreeHugger.com, an environmental design blog, and LifeEdited.com, a design blog for minimalist living, and now lives in 420-foot studio where his bed folds down from the wall.

“Does all this endless consumption result in measurably increased happiness?” he asks in the Op Ed piece. Studies have shown that things do not, in fact, add to our happiness.

“Intuitively, we know that the best stuff in life isn’t stuff at all,” Hill continues, “and that relationships, experiences and meaningful work are the staples of a happy life.”

He ends his piece with “My space is small. My life is big.”

Laura Bloom is also a believer in living with less. In a post on her blog Finding Walden, Bloom writes that she is a big fan of throwing away stuff because she wants her house to be a space where things can happen. “I want to walk into a room and feel a sense of possibility, and spaciousness,” she says. “I don’t want to be reminded in countless ways of the past.”

Bloom was inspired by To Have or To Be, whose author Erich Fromm says there are two essential ways of being – having or being. Although our society encourages “having” Bloom follows Fromm’s idea that by not having, you create more space for real being.

“Throwing stuff away, even precious, valuable stuff, can be lightening and liberating” she states. In a comment to the post, a reader called this “a mental spring cleaning.”

We’ve just talked about about two people who made the choice to live with less.

According to a post by Patricia Redsicker, blogs outrank social networks in influencing consumer purchasing decisions.

Perhaps blogs can influence readers NOT to make purchases, too. What do you think? Did reading this post help you to not buy something or to get rid of something you already have? If so, what was the item and why? We would love to hear your story.

Linda Hetzer is an editor and author of books on home design, crafts, and food, and author of  Moving On: A Practical Guide to Downsizing the Family Home

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2 Responses

  1. Reblogged this on Harvest and commented:
    In our work at Harvest, we see daily the fast growing demographic shift of people really (I mean really) wanting to simplify their lives, let the “stuff” that fills their large homes go, and create more space for themselves.

    It’s a fun topic, and there are places we can look for stories on how it’s done.

    Take Graham Hill, for example. In the “Living with Less” piece that the wonderful people at Downsizing The Home blogged here, his story of excess belongings is shared. It’s a great piece, read it. The buzz-sentences caught me, because my eyes are open for the language that tells us “he didn’t own the things he bought, but they ended up owning him.

    He downsized aggressively. “Intuitively, we know that the best stuff in life isn’t stuff at all”, he said.

    In Laura Bloom’s blog Finding Walden, she tells of being a big fan of throwing stuff away. She has one of my favorite quotes on the topic “Throwing stuff away, even precious, valuable stuff, can be lightening and liberating”

    My grandmother had a wonderful word for things that make you feel good. “Delicious”.

    Everywhere we look, we’re seeing delicious release. Letting go of the things that we don’t even know are holding us back from the clarity and simplicity that our cluttered minds ask us for.

    Last week a close friend shared his insights on why he and his wife had spent the last two years going through a lifetime of accumulated stuff in their storage room. “We realized that what we owned, owned us”. “The more we get rid of, the better we feel”.

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