How Minimalism Makes You Happier by Graham Hill

“Real happiness is cheap enough, yet how dearly we pay for its counterfeit.” -Hosea Ballou

Minimalism has been one of the most impactful and important things in my happiness and life journey. Here’s a short video to open your eyes to the world of minimalism.

If you haven’t already read my guide to minimalism and why minimalism makes you happier, click here!

The Written Version:

What’s in the Box?

Whatever it is, must be pretty important because I’ve traveled with it, moved it from apartment to apartment to apartment. Sound familiar?

Did you know that we Americans have about three times the amount of space we did 50 years ago? Three times.

So you think with all this extra space, we’d have plenty of room for all our stuff, right? Nope.

There’s a new industry in town a $22 billion, 2.2 billion square foot industry, that of personal storage. So we’ve got triple space, so we become such good shoppers that we need even more space.

So where does this lead?
Lots of credit card debt.
Huge environmental footprints.
And perhaps not coincidentally, our happiness levels flatline over the same 50 years.

Well, I’m here to suggest there’s a better way that less might actually equal more.

I bet most of us have experienced at some point the joys of less. College, your dorm. Traveling in a hotel room. Camping where you’ve got basically nothing, maybe a boat.

Whatever it was for you. I bet that among other things, this gave you a little more freedom, a little more time.

So I want to suggest that less stuff and less space are going to equal a smaller footprint. It’s actually a great way to save you some money. And it’s gonna give you a little more ease in your life. So I started a project called Life Edited, lifeedited.org, to further this conversation and to find some great solutions in this area.

First up, crowdsourcing my 420 square foot apartment in Manhattan with partners mutoko and jovoto.com. I wanted it all:  home office, sit down dinner for 10, room for guests, and all my kitesurfing gear. With over 300 entries from around the world, I got it. My own little jewel box.

By buying a space that was 420 square feet instead of 600, immediately, I’m saving 200 grand. Smaller space is going to make for smaller utilities, save some more money there, but also a smaller footprint.

And because it’s really designed around an edited set of possessions, my favorite stuff, and really designed for me, I’m really excited to be there.

How Can You Live Little? Three Main Approaches.

First of all, you have to edit ruthlessly. We’ve got to clear the arteries of our lives. That shirt that I haven’t worn in years? It’s time for me to let it go. We’ve got to cut the extraneous out of our lives. And we’ve got to learn to stem the inflow. We need to think before we buy. Ask ourselves, “is that really going to make me happier? Truly?” By all means, we should buy and own some great stuff. But we want stuff that we’re going to love for years, not just stuff.

Secondly, our new mantra. Small is sexy. We want space efficiency. We want things that are designed for how they’re used the vast majority of the time, not that rare event. Why have a six-burner stove when you rarely use three? So we want things that nest. We want things that stack. We want to digitize. You can take paperwork, books, movies, and you can make it disappear. It’s magic.

Finally, we want multifunctional spaces and housewares, a sink combined the toilet, a dining table becomes a bed, same space, a little side table stretches out to seat 10. In the winning life edited scheme, in a render here, we combine a moving wall with transformer furniture to get a lot out of the space.

Look at the coffee table. It grows in height and width to seat 10. My office folds away, easily hidden. My bed pops out of the wall, two fingers. Guests, move the moving wall, have some fold-down guest beds, and of course, my own movie theater.

So I’m not saying that we all need to live in 420 square feet. But consider the benefits of an edited life. Go from 3000 to 2000 from 1500 to 1000. Most of us, maybe all of us, are here pretty happily for a bunch of days. With a couple of bags, maybe a small space hotel room.

So when you go home and you walk through your front door, take a second and ask yourselves, “could I do with a little life editing? Would that give me a little more freedom? Maybe a little more time?”

What’s in the Box?

It doesn’t really matter.

I know I don’t need it.

What’s in yours? Maybe less might equal more.

So let’s make room for the good stuff.

Thank you.