Video Review: Less Is More?
North Texans have been lucky that real estate costs haven’t been too astronomical compared with national trends, and generous-sized houses are the norm scattered throughout our suburban sprawl. But while this is great for ensuring that everything has its place, it also means that we are holding onto things that we don’t necessarily need…or purchasing more stuff just because we have the space for it!
In this TedED video, Graham Hill explains how ditching extra stuff in your home can actually lead to increased happiness. But before you go throwing out all your children’s “stuff” (especially after you step barefoot on a Lego in the middle of the night), keep reading to hear more about the social science behind minimalistic living.
Today, on average, houses have three times more space than houses did 50 years ago. Due to that, you’d have to assume that families have more than enough room for all their prized possessions!
Well, guess again. The personal storage industry is a $22,000,000,000 industry today. That means that, although we have more space, we also have an excess of possessions that require offsite storage.
So, in the grand scheme of lifestyle and metal health, what does this mean? While we may have more stuff, we also have more debt, an increased carbon dioxide footprint, and more stress. These effects are why Mr. Hill has concluded that less might equal more.
The basis for Hill’s hypothesis is that less stuff—combined with less space—results in less of an environmental impact, more money in your pocket, and more overall happiness. He gives an example of living in New York City where he moved to an apartment that was 200 square feet less than his previous. He calculated that he would be able to save $200,000 by saving money on rent, utilities and the inability to impulse-buy products that only take up room.
Next, Hill gives practical steps on how you can “live little” and increase your happiness. The first thing that you must do is edit ruthlessly. This means cutting extraneous stuff out of your life and slowing the inflow of what comes through the door. Experts on minimalism have varying forms of advice of how to purge items. For clothes, many agree that if you haven’t worn it in the last year then it can go. If you are an avid chef and have a kitchen overflowing with gadgets and gizmos, then one piece of advice to get rid of “single use items.” So…the avocado peeler that sits in the back of the drawer should get the boot since it can’t be used for other tasks. This also means you need to think before you buy.
The next step is to think small. While this runs counter to our unofficial mantra that everything is bigger in Texas, it doesn’t have to mean that you need to trade your spacious home for the tiny apartments featured at Ikea. Instead, it means making smart purchases that nest (think measuring cups) or stack, or digitizing photos and documents, or shredding unneeded paperwork.
Finally, Mr. Hill’s last piece of advice is to make things multifunctional. Look for pieces of furniture that can be used for several purposes or articles of clothing that can bridge seasons. This will cut down on the amount of stuff you actually need.
Hill believes that by cutting out the stuff in your life, it can actually make you richer and happier. Editing down the things in your life will look different for every person. Take small steps to try out his ideas, be sure to watch the video, and see if you feel a burden lift!
Also published on Medium.