We live in a consumption society. Our entire economic model depends on mass consumption. The more we consume, the better off the economy is. But the more we consume, the worse off we are financially. Quite a conundrum.
My philosophy is to minimize things and maximize experiences. Too often we long for material goods. But when you think back to the best moments in your life, it probably wasn’t standing in line waiting to buy something. It might have been a great vacation, the birth a child, a day in the park with a significant other, a wedding, etc.
Modern marketing techniques try to convince you that wants are actually needs that will fix all your problems. But step back and challenge this. Do you really need all the stuff you have? Do you really need the things on your wishlist? If not, what else could you do with the money you are allocating for these wants? And what more could you accomplish with the time you would spend chasing these wants and then using them?
In my opinion, there is something liberating in minimizing the amount of things you are surrounded by. I like to feel light and open, and my apartment is definitely light and open. If you are hoarding things from years ago, consider donating them. If you have things around the house you never use, give them to friends, sell them on Ebay, or throw them away if they can’t be recycled or reused.
In some ways we are slaves to our things. We go to work and need to make as much money as possible so that we can afford as big a house as possible filled with as much stuff as possible. This is an exaggeration, but not far off the mark in many cases. One of the biggest secrets to happiness is being happy with what you have, whether material or non-material.
With a minimized wish list, you can pay down debt and/or buy more experiences. You could sign up for skydiving sessions, take courses at the community college, eat out at a restaurant (this goes against my get out of debt post, but if it’s food you can’t make yourself or food from another country, then it’s definitely an experience you can indulge in), go on vacation somewhere, buy more books, see a play, etc. The list is infinite. And chances are, a vacation or a class on a topic you are interested or passionate about will be infinitely more enriching than whatever is at the top of your wishlist.
In some ways, this might mean changing the value you place on things, the value of experiences being higher than the value of things. Like I said, just think about the best moments of your life and try to create more such moments in the future. The rest will fall into place. But that means making the decision to prioritize spending time or money on experiences instead of things. For you, this could be an integral part of your Happiness Plunge!
Below are two videos I think demonstrate this minimize/maximize philosophy.
A woman in Washington drastically downsizes her housing and is more satisfied with life:
A family that dropped everything and spent seven years sailing around the world.
What about you? Do you have an example of forgoing wants to experience something? Share your story or advice below in the comments!