Saturday, January 24, 2015

Less Stuff; More Happiness?

From TED

Graham Hill tells us how to scale down our material selves.

Why you should listen

Graham Hill is the founder of LifeEdited, dedicated to helping people design their lives for more happiness with less stuff. When he started the company in 2010, it brought the ideas of his previous project, the eco-blog and vlog, into design and architecture. (The TreeHugger team joined the Discovery Communications network as a part of their Planet Green initiative, and Hill now makes appearances on the green-oriented cable channel.)

Before Treehugger, Hill studied architecture and design (his side business is making those cool ceramic Greek coffee cups). His other company, ExceptionLab, is devoted to creating sustainable prototypes -- think lamps made from recycled blinds and ultra-mod planters that are also air filters.

Hill is the author of Weekday Vegetarian, available as a TED Book on Amazon and Apple's iBooks

I could have used this when we lived in Manhattan. No doubt, we did a good job of scaling our life down on our own. Living in 400 square feet with two children does that to you. Why 400 square feet you ask? We bought  our little one-bedroom apartment at the height of the 1980s market, which precipitously dropped several months after we bought. We were basically stuck in that apartment until our oldest was 5 years old simply because we couldn't even rent the apartment out at a functionable price so we could afford another place to live that had two bedrooms.

Of course that eventually changed and we rented out our little albatross, moved, moved again and then moved again. Eventually sold the apartment, at a loss by the way. However were able to take it a a business loss since we had rented it out for more than two years. Not certain if that is still the tax law, but at least we did get some help with our little debacle of a foray into Manhattan real estate. Believe me when I tell you being a landlord is not for the faint of heart. That last tenant (an Ivy League lawyer) we had was a trip in and of herself. Never met a woman who was so filthy in my life. She had not cleaned that apartment in a year, including all the kitchen appliances, and the bathroom.. In fact the bathroom had blackmold all across the ceiling. The bathtub had so much scum in it, I don't know how she felt clean after taking a shower in it. We told her she had to buy it or pay for renovations she had damaged the apartment so badly.

Meanwhile, along the way we have accumulated alot of stuff. I go through the closets every now and again to rid ourselves of the superfluous. But in the end, the reality is that attached to the things we have are important memories that we are not willing to give up. I can understand why the elderly have a very hard time moving from their homes as they age. Their lives are in their houses. No its not always about the things they have, but about the memories associated with the objects that holds a person to a place or makes it too hard to give up their belongings.

That is one part of the narrative that Mr. Hill doesn't seem to recognize. But then again, it appears that Mr. Hill has no children and at the point of this video above, had noone of any significance withwhom he shared his life. These two points make a huge difference as to what you would get rid of and what you choose to keep.

Now in truth, there is no reason any one person needs 30 pairs of jeans. I have seen closets in people's homes that were bigger than my house. But then again if you paid money for an item and you want to keep it, that is your right. Of course, there is a fine line between being a hoarder and hanging on to your belongings. I think that line has to do with cleanliness and order. But don't quote me on that.

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