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Opinion

Lifestyle improves by downsizing material possessions

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November 11, 2011

American society is based on owning objects. Women are portrayed as “shopaholics” who love sales because then they can buy even more. Men are known to always want more video games and faster vehicles. Families often wish for larger houses and for more things to fill them. With material objects as the focus of many desires, America must awaken and see the non-necessity of these wishes. People in the United States want to own considerably more than they need, which results in forgetting to focus on the truly important facts of life. However, with examination of these values and by reprioritizing, lives can gain more meaning.

While the American mentality embraces the belief that money equals happiness, several studies show the strict limitations to that theory. Depending on the study, the dollar amount varies (about $60,000 is a fair estimate), but all conclude the same thing: happiness and income increase together until the income hits the specified amount. Then, happiness plateaus despite income continuing to rise. The theory holds that happiness increases as an individual’s ability to pay for necessities increases, but once they can afford all the basics, along with a small indulgence or two, happiness ceases to increase.

Furthermore, downsizing the amount of objects owned increases life quality. Without thousands of items to keep track of and dozens of rooms to upkeep, life becomes simpler and easier to manage. Obtaining multitudes of things costs a significant amount of money; by limiting unnecessary purchases, money can be used to purchase high-quality, needed items in which the owner can take pride. By owning less, the focus of life shifts from objects and their superficial distractions to forming close relationships and spending time carrying out meaningful pastimes. Many families who choose to purchase a smaller home than their current residence find that their families become closer and more cohesive since they no longer spend all their time in separate rooms completing pointless activities.

To progress toward a less materialistic and more profound lifestyle, the following simple steps are of great help. Begin by downsizing what you currently own. Any objects, which have not been used for over a year, can be donated. Even if it is difficult to part with beloved objects at first, the main idea is to continually assess what is truly needed and to quit purchasing more objects. Decide what time uses bring the most genuine fulfillment to your life, what uses detract from your life and then how to indulge without purchasing items. For example, libraries or rental stores are great options for movies, books and game lovers and allow hundreds of people to share items. Through downsizing, reducing purchases, and sharing goods, household clutter can be greatly reduced.

To improve our lives, we must change our mentalities surrounding material items. America constantly falls prey to the push of advertisers, who constantly, and wrongly, insist that we need more things to be happy. However, fulfillment is actually reached through closeness to others and well- spent time versus owning more objects than another person. By recognizing our false cognitions and actively working to reduce our ownership of superfluous items, our life quality will increase drastically.

Jaime Haines is an exuberant puppy-lover and “House” addict and plans to use her psychology degree to encourage activism and well-being through counseling, workshops, speeches, and the written word.