i) more stuff doesn't mean more happiness,
ii) consumerism is contributing to global warming,
iii) having too much stuff begins to run our lives
iv) stuff creates malaise rather than happiness
v)waste is epidemic in America and greed has no boundaries
vi) Mr. Hill invites us to live with less in smallewr spaces designed by his latest start-up
This state of affairs is symptomatic of a society based on consumerism that has lost site of greater values, where people live lives of quiet desperation while wearing a happy face, and occasionally someone goes off the rails and decides to shoot up a primary school or a movie theater.... or a Bernie Madoff can pull off a spectacular financial fraud by convincing sophisticated investors that he holds the secret to unparalleled stock market investment performance... Bernie preyed on the greed of people who believed they were being 'invited' into a select group of insiders earning high returns with no apparent risk - the proverbial sure thing.
One other aspect of consumerism is the engine that drives it all - the Advertising business that has the task of creating "wants" for products that are not needed by promising a happier you, if only you drink the right beverage, smoke the right brand and wear the right label...
Living With Less. A Lot Less.
I LIVE in a 420-square-foot studio. I sleep in a bed that folds down from the wall. I have six dress shirts....
I have come a long way from the life I had in the late ’90s, when, flush with cash from an Internet start-up sale, I had a giant house crammed with stuff — electronics and cars and appliances and gadgets.
Somehow this stuff ended up running my life, or a lot of it; the things I consumed ended up consuming me.
My circumstances are unusual (not everyone gets an Internet windfall before turning 30), but my relationship with material things isn’t.
We live in a world of surfeit stuff, of big-box stores and 24-hour online shopping opportunities. Members of every socioeconomic bracket can and do deluge themselves with products.
There isn’t any indication that any of these things makes anyone any happier; in fact it seems the reverse may be true.
For me, it took 15 years, a great love and a lot of travel to get rid of all the inessential things I had collected and live a bigger, better, richer life with less.
My success and the things it bought quickly changed from novel to normal. Soon I was numb to it all.
It didn’t take long before I started to wonder why my theoretically upgraded life didn’t feel any better and why I felt more anxious than before.
My life was unnecessarily complicated.
Who had I become? My house and my things were my new employers for a job I had never applied for.
It got worse. Soon after we sold our company, I moved east to work in Bowne’s office in New York, where I rented a 1,900-square-foot SoHo loft that befit my station as a tech entrepreneur. The new pad needed furniture, housewares, electronics, etc. — which took more time and energy to manage........
I’m not the only one whose life is cluttered with excess belongings.
In a study published last year titled “Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century,” researchers at U.C.L.A. observed 32 middle-class Los Angeles families and found that all of the mothers’ stress hormones spiked during the time they spent dealing with their belongings. Seventy-five percent of the families involved in the study couldn’t park their cars in their garages because they were too jammed with things.
Our fondness for stuff affects almost every aspect of our lives. Housing size, for example, has ballooned in the last 60 years. The average size of a new American home in 1950 was 983 square feet; by 2011, the average new home was 2,480 square feet. And those figures don’t provide a full picture. In 1950, an average of 3.37 people lived in each American home; in 2011, that number had shrunk to 2.6 people.
This means that we take up more than three times the amount of space per capita than we did 60 years ago.
Apparently our supersize homes don’t provide space enough for all our possessions, as is evidenced by our country’s $22 billion personal storage industry.
What exactly are we storing away in the boxes we cart from place to place? Much of what Americans consume doesn’t even find its way into boxes or storage spaces, but winds up in the garbage.
The Natural Resources Defense Council reports, for example, that--
40 percent of the food Americans buy finds goes into the trash.
Enormous consumption has global, environmental and social consequences.
For at least 335 consecutive months, the average temperature of the globe has exceeded the average for the 20th century. As a recent report for Congress explained, this temperature increase, as well as acidifying oceans, melting glaciers and Arctic Sea ice are “primarily driven by human activity.”
Many experts believe consumerism and all that it entails — from the extraction of resources to manufacturing to waste disposal — plays a big part in pushing our planet to the brink. And as we saw with Foxconn and the recent Beijing smog scare, many of the affordable products we buy depend on cheap, often exploitive overseas labor and lax environmental regulations.
Does all this endless consumption result in measurably increased happiness?
In a recent study, the Northwestern University psychologist Galen V. Bodenhausen linked consumption with aberrant, antisocial behavior. Professor Bodenhausen found that “Irrespective of personality, in situations that activate a consumer mind-set, people show the same sorts of problematic patterns in well-being, including negative affect and social disengagement.” Though American consumer activity has increased substantially since the 1950s, happiness levels have flat-lined.
A compulsive entrepreneur, I worked all the time(while traveling) and started new companies from an office that fit in my solar backpack.
My life was full of love and adventure and work I cared about. I felt free and I didn’t miss the car and gadgets and house; instead I felt as if I had quit a dead-end job.
Intuitively, we know that the best stuff in life isn’t stuff at all, and that relationships, experiences and meaningful work are the staples of a happy life.
I like material things as much as anyone. I studied product design in school. I’m into gadgets, clothing and all kinds of things. But my experiences show that after a certain point, material objects have a tendency to crowd out the emotional needs they are meant to support.
Often, material objects take up mental as well as physical space.
Graham Hill is the founder of LifeEdited.com and TreeHugger.com.
Source: March 9, 2013
Living With Less. A Lot Less.
By GRAHAM HILL
Living With Less. A Lot Less. - NYTimes.com