Have you ever heard about someone who gave away all of their stuff and felt like they could go anywhere and be anything because they didn’t have anything holding them down? Every so often I go through a period where I feel like maybe I would experience more freedom and my space would feel cleaner if I didn’t have so much. If my walls were more blank, if I had fewer things on my shelves, if I had less furniture or fewer books… maybe I’d be happier? I’ve come to a few realizations both through my own experiences and reading Gretchen Rubin’s Happier at Home.
Gretchen says that while some people may feel happier with less, possessions actually have a role to play in happiness. “Many possessions are valuable not because of their cost or prestige, but because of the meanings they contain.” Collecting things is a way to engage with the world and it’s how we express our interest in something. You can walk down to the library and check out a book for free, but there’s something about having it on your shelf and making it a part of your home – something I can relate to! Other people might collect cooking tools, sports equipment, or shoes. It’s not all about consumption or materialism – the things that we collect contribute to and reflect our sense of identity.
“Plainness is not necessarily simplicity. Elimination may be just as meaningless as elaboration.” – Frank Lloyd Wright
When I was moving out of my university apartment, I began early and moved most of my things back home until I only had the necessities. Living with none of my things around me didn’t feel freeing – it felt plain and lonely. Moving into a blank space, the first thing I do is put up my pictures, DIY projects, plants, pillows, books… that is what makes it home.
Game Plan: I think that this quote, “everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler,” means that everyone has to find their own sweet spot, whether that’s having blank walls or filled walls, an SLR camera or an iPhone, a collection of books on your e-reader or a library full of them. Make the decision that works for you in any and every area of your life. What makes other people happy will not necessarily make you happy, and vice versa.
Quote source: Albert Einstein
Gretchen Rubin, Happier at Home