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Less is More: Live with less and be happier

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“A great piece of art is composed not just of what is in the final piece, but equally important, what is not. It is the discipline to discard what does not fit—to cut out what might have already cost days or even years of effort—that distinguishes the truly exceptional artist and marks the ideal piece of work, be it a symphony, a novel, a painting, a company or, most important of all, a life.”

— Jim Collins, Business Author

Life in the 21st century is often described as “fast-paced”. There’s this common perception that somehow our generation has more things to do, more demands on our time, and life generally moves faster.

We are endlessly plugged in to our devices with instant access to everything that is happening everywhere, creating the illusion that a lot more things are happening. Having access to this constant stream of updates makes us feel involved with whatever is going on – it makes us feel included and maybe even productive.

But strip away that illusion and the basic essentials of life have not changed much at all. We still need to eat, to play, to love. We still go about the same ways of doing the above – work, entertainment, and building personal relationships.

Unfortunately, in the midst of all our “busyness”, the important things tend to get pushed aside. We think we “need” more work to get more money, more tools to get more work done, more things to entertain us when we get stressed out doing the above.

The only “more” that kind of approach really leads to is more debt, more stress, a bigger environmental footprint, and more tension in relationships.

Think about some of the most pleasurable moments in your life. Weren’t they the simple, ordinary things? The first taste of independence, a first kiss, a great time with friends – those are things people have been enjoying long before technology pervaded our lives.

We don’t need “more” stuff to be happy.But the key to more life – a fuller, richer life – is to ruthlessly cut away the distractions so you can focus on what truly matters to you.

Graham Hill, TED speaker and founder of TreeHugger.com, shares three approaches to live larger by eliminating the unnecessary:

1. Edit ruthlessly. Think before you buy. Ask yourself, “Is that really going to make me happier? Truly?” Stuff is not bad, but you want stuff that you will love for years, not just stuff in itself.

2. Small is sexy. Space should be efficient – designed for how it’s used most of the time, not that rare event. Find things that nest, things that stack, things that can be digitised.

3. Harness multifunctional spaces and housewares. More space and more stuff equal more maintenance, and more time consumed. Ask yourself, “What can I edit out that would give me a little more freedom?”

Remember, getting rid of stuff doesn’t leave you with less – it makes room for more of what really matters.

For more on minimalist living, read zenhabits.net and Matthew E. May.

Image credit:   Some rights reserved by antanask

 

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