What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the words “Spring Cleaning”? Piles of unwanted clothes, kitchen appliances, and things you “might need at some point in the future”? …and then getting rid of them and getting an overwhelming feeling of relief and freedom?
Yes, minimalism. Everyone knows it.
Some despise it, some admire it and some take it as one of life’s mantras. But one thing is clear – one cannot ignore it.
Spring cleaning is not a new trend, it has been growing for some years now and it has taken various forms; from minimalism in architecture to living habits, wardrobes, cooking… the list goes on. There are numerous posts daily on ”how to minimize your wardrobe” or “get rid of the things you don’t need”.
This trend has arisen due to many factors: environmental concerns, financial turmoil, aesthetics, and high levels of personal debt.
But the real question is, does this ‘stuff’ actually make us happy and fulfill real needs? And what kind of effect does “getting rid of stuff” have on our feelings?
Nowadays, Americans have 3 times more space than 50 years ago. This means 3 times more space for possessions. But interestingly, on the top of that, a 22 billion dollar industry for additional “storage space” has also emerged. So having more space and more possessions has also led to needing even more space.
Isn’t that crazy? And moreover, how economical is this? Given this setup, do people nowadays feel happier than 50 years ago?
According to Graham Hill, increasing our space and maximizing our possessions actually has the opposite effect.
In other words: living smart by limiting our possessions has a very positive effect on our happiness levels. This does not come as a huge surprise if one thinks of the amount of positive feelings connected with the thoughts of “living simply in a student dorm room”, travelling light (only hand-luggage for more and more people nowadays), camping, staying in a simple hotel room and so on.
People have started to write books and create manuals on how to live a minimalist lifestyle (remember the “capsule wardrobe” trend??) but this might be going a little bit too far.
In his speech, Graham Hill lays it out clearly and bluntly:
- EDIT ruthlessly: “Is that really going to make me happier? Truly?”
- THINK small: Small is sexy. We want things that stack and can be multifunctional.
I have been moved by his speech not because it is groundbreaking, but rather because in our daily consumerism-blindness we often forget about the fact that the motto “less is more” truly holds.
Let us all be reminded of this and when our next shopping instinct arises, ask ourselves: :”Do I really love and need this…”?