Having Less Creates Happiness

Having less creates happinessWhen I got to Kathmandu, Nepal, I bought a bright yellow book called “Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism” written by Chogyam Trungpa.

I thought the book was okay, but the author’s style didn’t resonate with me.

There was one idea he suggested in the book, however, which was great. It proved very true in my own life, so I’ll share it here.

He told that truth seekers tend to go from one teacher to the next and they accumulate a vast amount of spiritual teachings. So they know a lot, but they’re still unhappy and so search for further truth.

The author suggested to these infinite seekers to intuitively select one teaching and focus on it completely. Chew it, as the author suggests, to get the most of it and understand it fully.

This advice can be applied not only to spiritual matters but to our way of life. Especially in the West people tend to accumulate many nice things yet they don’t appreciate any of them and feel unhappy not knowing why.

How I started living with less

When I left UK for India, I took only a small bag with me. The rest of the stuff I either sold or gave away. As soon as most of my stuff was gone, I felt so happy and free.

The most important things that I still had took on a different and deeper meaning. I fully appreciated each and every item that I took with me to India.

I got rid of so much stuff, but I never missed any of it. I felt content and happy with the few items I still possessed.

This way of life with a very limited number of possessions simplified my life and made me appreciate not only the things I had, but other simple things in life I overlooked before. Simple things like chirping of birds or the sound of leaves moving with the wind took on a more magical meaning.

I gained more clarity. It seems that every single thing you buy takes up some space of your mind, leaving it less clear. So as soon as I got rid of most of my stuff I saw things in a clearer way and made sounder decisions.

All this happened from a simple decision to live with fewer things.

My re-attachment to things and letting them go

Throughout the two years of my life in India I again started to accumulate stuff, little by little. Before coming to Nepal I had to make a decision whether to keep all the stuff by paying for a few months of rent of my studio apartment, or again leave it all and go. I decided that the latter option was healthier.

Some stuff I had was expensive. I noticed that my mind found it harder to let go of the stuff I invested more money in. However it didn’t take long to severe the bonds with items and leave. Again, like the time I left UK for India, I felt freer and happier.

It seems that when you decide to sever the bonds with whatever items you accumulated and with whatever place you lived in, you become fully open to new opportunities. You end up experiencing many wonderful things you never experienced before, simply because of your firm decision to remove these subtle influences from your life.

How we end up accumulating lots of stuff

The comparison the author of the “Cutting Through Material Spiritualism” gave to hoarding stuff and becoming unhappy was this. First, the room has little furniture and one beautiful painting on the wall. The person living there fully appreciates the beautiful stuff he has, especially the painting.

Then a thought arises in him that since the painting is so beautiful, if he buys more, the room will look even more beautiful. So he buys more paintings but suddenly he no longer sees the beauty of any of the paintings, nor does he appreciate them.

His home becomes crowded with beautiful things that he doesn’t pay attention to.

Final advice on having less

To follow the spiritual advice of having less, you should have only the essential things that feel good to you. Appreciate them fully and refrain from getting more of the same stuff.

This should gradually simplify your life and make you happy.

Here’s a reminder you can save (click on the image to view a bigger picture):

Having Less Creates Happiness - Simona Rich Quote

If you experienced the joy of having less, share your story in the comments.

Comments

  1. Just read this article. It helped me realize I have a lot of work ahead to find peace. My past is living in my home and frankly taking up a lot of space. Also brings memories I don’t want to deal with daily. Time to do some throwing out n find a way out of the chaos. Living balled up in a stress knot is not living at all it’s existing. Ty for the tips gonna give it a try.

  2. I have experienced this myself. Moving from one country to another forced me in first place to simplify my living and carry only the essential. then, every time it happened it turned out to be a good thing. Keeping only what makes me happy is key, its good to let go of things we do not need or appreciate, less material attachment equals more freedom.

  3. Tran Phuong says:

    Thanks Simona,
    I think this way help us having a happy life with our present. But if we are content with little things, we are hard to be bigger.
    Good luck,

  4. I partially disagree with this as this may not hold true in some situations – i.e having more decreases unhappiness – for e.g having more money gives one the ability to help others, having more stuff gives us the ability to give them to others, having more food helps to share with others. I guess that the point is that one needs to be positive about more and abundance as this can help to reduce selflessness and share more. One must only focus on the +ve instead of negating abundance and potentially encouraging one not to aspire to be great and more helpful to others

    • In the article I talked about having less stuff, Adnand. Lots of stuff doesn’t constitute abundance – poor people tend to hoard stuff. When you have less stuff, your mind is less cluttered. With this clarity it’s easier to achieve goals, whether you wish for abundance or anything else.

  5. Claudia Noronha says:

    I find this post absolute true to me.
    I used to have a lot of things, then I started moving and I have lived in more than 20 houses.
    As soon as I started living like this I started diminishing my possessions because I didn’t wanted to carry them around.
    Now, I have less things but I value much more each one of them and it’s true that I feel lighter also.
    Nice post Simona.
    Cheers

  6. Dears,
    This is deeply described in Buddhism.
    1.The truth of suffering (dukkha)
    2.The truth of the cause of suffering (samudaya)
    3.The truth of the end of suffering (nirhodha)
    4.The truth of the path that frees us from suffering (magga)

  7. De-cluttering of your living space is actually De-cluttering the mind. A mind that is Uncluttered is a healthier more relaxed mind.

  8. Today philosophy is to HAVE MORE, SPEND MORE.. MORE, MORE… But, the protagonists of that philosophy doesn’t say that in this way you create MORE UNHAPPINESS also…
    Proper mindset is essential for perceiving reality so that we feel happiness instead of unhappiness.
    Very beautiful post.
    Thank you Simona.