Is Happiness Affected by Materials?

• Korie Gallagher •

Do you have too much stuff? Sorry, let me rephrase that. Do all of the things you own bring you joy or purpose in your life? And I mean all of it. Books, clothes, souvenirs, random items in your junk drawer, etc. If you have said no to this question, you are not the only one. The minority of people who realized  this eventually convert to minimalism.

Minimalism does not exactly have a specific definition, as it has a broad range meaning to different people. To help you understand, “Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from overwhelm. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from depression. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we have built our lives around. Real freedom,” as The Minimalists puts it.

Like everyone else, I also had too many unnecessary items. Anytime a store was having a sale or someone was giving away free stuff, I would have to have/buy at least one object. With each item came with a different purpose for me. For example, I would have a random black dress incase a specific formal event would randomly pop in my agenda. Or an old magazine that is hardly looked through because of a article you can most likely read on the internet.

I had put too much importance into these purposes until I discovered the concept of Minimalism. In the middle of 2017, It was any normal day of me scrolling through Netflix, then I saw a documentary called Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things, in my recommendation. The next hour and 19 minutes changed the way I thought forever.

Since then, I got rid of about three fourths of everything I ever claimed property on. This included almost all my personal keepsakes, clothes which I have never worn, and random things I thought I would use in the future.

The only things I really kept is what I actually used everyday or brought true value into my life.

As this transition began, I felt more happier the more I got rid of unnecessary objects. My mental health and stress strangely started to improve more. Space in my bedroom and bathroom  increased way more so I did not feel cramped.

On the other hand, others around did not feel the same. My family members would freak out on why I randomly thrown away or donated so much items in a few months. Friends would question me why to not just keep it for myself as it might be more valuable later. To them though, it was just a weird concept to live life like I used to think.

Like me, some people convert to Minimalism because of the direction mankind is taking us. No doubt that over the last 50 years, the public started to become more interested in being constant consumers. Consumers of what the new, hottest product is, like the IPhone X. Consumers of cheap objects made in countries that  use forced labor to produce those objects, including China and Malaysia.

One example of this constant consumerism craze is the fast rise in fast fashion. In earlier years, there would a maximum of four clothing seasons. Dressing up in different clothes for change of weather in the different season seems logical. Now guess how many clothing seasons we have in a year. We now have about an average of 52 clothing seasons, according to The Huffpost. That is almost exactly one clothing season for each week of the year.

Another reason minimalism seems appealing can be the realization that most of the stuff you have never really served a true purpose for you. This could be having a closet full of blankets and bedding when you really have only used one or two in a year, or owning millions of jewelry pieces when you have your range of what you really wear.

Now I admit, some people have collections that they really can not get rid of. One person could have a library of books that they love and could never give up. And that is really okay. As long as the object gives you personal joy, what is the harm in keeping it?

If you really want to start living minimally, it is not hard to start. The first step you can take is to simply start going through everything you own. Look at each object and ask yourself, “Does this really benefit my life and give me true happiness?”; “Can I live without it in my life?” and “Would someone be more happy if they owned this than I would?”

If you made the decision to not keep it, then simply make a pile to later donate or give to someone who you know would appreciate it more. On the other hand, it is alright if you want to keep it as it clearly has meaning to you. However, later down the road, it is good to check if it still holds that same sentiment.

Another good step is to just research about minimalism. Now in 2018, there are so many resources to read and watch off on that embraces the minimalist message.

Everyone’s life is different as everyone makes different choices that take them to different paths. Those paths eventually lead to the same destinations, which can be happiness, peace, or other destinations. I feel as minimalism is a path that looks scary to some. But if everyone at least tries to walk down that road, it might not be so bad and some could even enjoy the ride.