The Importance of Minimalism: Why does more stuff means more happiness?

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Watching The Minimalists: Less is Now on Netflix made me think a lot about the amount of things I have at home. We are in a world that constantly teaches us that we need more things to be happy. The reasons for working are to buy more things, but is that really all we are living for? Does having more stuff mean more happiness?

The answer to that is no. Having more things does not make you happy. Perhaps temporarily you will be very ecstatic about getting a new item, but over time you begin to focus on something new and forget about the older item. It’s very similar to the mentality of getting new clothes. Have you ever bought something new and began to wear it a lot, but then over time it loses value, and the feeling of “wow it looks so good” begins to fade away? It’s the same thing with everything else that we purchase. Rather than purchasing so many unnecessary items, it is better to stick with what you already have. Or perhaps if you feel that you have too much stuff, start donating items or selling them on online platforms such as Mercari or eBay.

I have lived in my home with my parents, sister, and grandma for two decades. We never moved and so we accumulated a lot of things. And when I say a lot I mean “over 300,000 items for an average American.” Ever since I was a child, I was given many things whether they are toys or clothes. Thinking back to it, I never really needed all those things, but at the moment I wanted to be like everyone else and have a certain item or thought I needed this item. When I was in fourth grade, everyone became obsessed with something called “Silly Bandz.” Perhaps you have heard of this or maybe not. I remember walking with my parents in Chinatown and seeing it being sold at a dollar store and began to collect them. These are one of the many things that I did not need but I thought it was “cool” at the moment.

When I look around my home, there are so many items that we have but we do not use. Such as a pancake maker, which we barely use since we rarely have time in the morning to make them. The pandemic has also increased the hoarding mentality of stocking up on toilet papers, disposable masks, gloves, lysol, etc. Perhaps we do need these items, but we really do not need ten boxes piling up in the basement of those things. The funny thing is even before the pandemic my family has always been hoarders. With their Costco membership, they have the ability to buy a bunch of things on sale. And so it has led to my basement turning into what I call my very own “Costco”. Literally, if there was an apocalypse I can probably live in my basement and survive for quite a while.

We did not always have this many items. Our home was once very organized and neat, but after my grandfather passed away our items began to accumulate. My grandfather has always told us not to purchase so many things, so without him there the things began to pile up. Perhaps I subconsciously filled up that missing spot by buying physical materials that gave me temporary happiness.

Watching The Minimalist made me realize the number of things in my home does not make me happy. Rather they are hindering me from feeling happy. Perhaps in the moment of buying something new felt nice, but the amount of things purchased versus the amount of things donated or thrown out has an enormous gap.

I am currently in the process of trying to eliminate one item per day and trying to organize my home better, but I find it really difficult. I share a room with my sister and so I cannot just get rid of something without her permission. Additionally, with five people in this home, we all have a bunch of things that we need to get rid of, but it’s very difficult when there is sentimental value in a lot of items. It will take time, but I hope to achieve my goal of eliminating all the items that do not give me happiness.

If you’re in the same situation as me, go challenge yourself and try the 30-day challenge! Every single day for 30 days get rid of one item. It can be anything, but the most important thing is to realize that this item is something that does not give you happiness.

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