Tips for How to be Satisfied with Less
Dr. Dale V. Atkins, April 2013
Many of us accumulate objects over our lifetime, often stuffing them into closets, shelves, attics or basements. We have so much stuff that we don't even remember what we have and if we do remember, and go hunting for a missing item, we can't find it. Ask yourself, Am I holding onto too many possessions?
How much is enough? We will each answer this according to our own background, habits, values, and life. At different points of our lives we will likely respond differently. There are times in our lives when material possessions may be more important than other times. There will be times when we want to free ourselves of some of our "stuff." Worrying or thinking about material things is no longer appealing. There is significant psychological and sociological research in support of the idea that what contributes to sustained happiness is NOT investing in "stuff" but investing in experiences. We can consciously devote focused time, energy, and resources to having experiences that carry significance when we engage as well as after we engage. Our remembering the experience, talking about it, sharing it with others, can have a significantly positive effect on our mood, contributing to a rise in positive feeling. Interestingly, people thrive when they have a network of close, nurturing relationships, meaningful work and take part in enjoyable and or challenging experiences. Often these experiences reinforce a person's sense of their purpose. Possessions just don't do that.
It is unrealistic to expect that we will stop wanting things. But, it may be worthwhile to consider how our lives would be different (better) if we did not acquiring so much stuff. We may very well find that we get more pleasure from doing than having and in the process, we feel lighter; less encumbered; freer. Often, when people reflect on the past, they are happier when they recall experiences rather than things.
Here are some tips to consider:
Organize Your Space. - "Organize from the inside out" so you can rid yourself of the "emotional and physical weight" of possessions. You may want to read Julie Morgenstern's wonderful book, Organizing from the Inside Out: The Foolproof System For Organizing Your Home, Your Office and Your Life.
Give People the Gift of Time. - Share time engaged in something special with someone you care about.
Purchasing: Need vs Want. - Think seriously about what you purchase and what your expectations are if and when you "have" this thing.
Photograph Your Experiences. - When you review them you may be able to recreate the positive feeling you had when you were involved originally.
Learn Something New. - Delve into a process of discovering something about which you know little or nothing. Get lost in the knowledge and allow yourself to become intrigued.