How to Live With Less Stuff But More Happiness


Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for. – Epicurus

“Do you want some more?”

Seems a dumb question, doesn’t it?

The answer is of course, it depends what the ‘more’ is. More of what, exactly?

Of course you’d enjoy more money to buy more cool stuff, more space to store it, and more time to play with it, who wouldn’t?

But you see, it’s not necessarily the question that’s wrong, it’s the answer.

Let’s try again and this time we’ll let Epicurus inspire the answer.

“Do you want some more?”

“Well, it depends. Why would I want more in the first place?”

Nothing is sufficient for the person who finds sufficiency too little – Epicurus

You see, wanting more has become a conditioned response. A need.

  • Unhappy? You need more friends.
  • In debt? You need more money.
  • Clutter up to the ceiling? You need more rooms.

But the reality is, ‘more’ often fails, because we never asked whether ‘more’ was actually the solution in the first place.

Perhaps the solution was less…

  • Unhappy? Maybe you need less friends, or less demanding ones.
  • In debt? Maybe you need to learn how to spend less of your pay check each month.
  • Clutter up to the ceiling? Maybe you need to buy less stuff and hoard less.

He who is not satisfied with a little, is satisfied with nothing. – Epicurus

‘More’ in fact often exacerbates the problem…

  • More friends just puts more pressure on you to spread your friendship and time more thinly.
  • More money just gives you more temptation to spend even more beyond your income.
  • More rooms, closets and shelves just give you more opportunity to amass more clutter.

You see, more tends to lead to more. And we’ve been conditioned to think that more is automatically better.
And less tends to lead to less and we’ve been led to believe that less is for losers… or hermits.

Now, I’m no puritanical kill joy. This is no ‘grab some sackcloth and go live in a cave’ hermit sales pitch.
I’m just saying…

Give Less A Chance

“Do you want less?”

“Well it depends, less of what?”

“Less of all the things you’re supposed to be. Less of all the things you’re supposed to do. And definitely less of all the stuff you’re supposed to own?”

“Well, I might just be interested in less of all that.

Not what we have, but what we enjoy, constitutes our abundance. – Epicurus

From the moment you were born expectations were raining down on you like a ticker-tape parade:

  • expectations to be a cute baby, a model student, a straight A graduate, a dutiful daughter or son, a popular guy or gal, a good citizen, a ….
    Rather than trying to shoehorn yourself into more and more roles and masks, give less a try – less façade, less fake, less stress.
  • Expectations to earn a good wage, get that raise, make a six figure income, move to that corner office, make that down payment…
    Rather than endlessly chasing cash in the race for riches, give less a try – take the time to work out what you really need to make you happy and secure. It may be way less than you imagine. Measuring your internal worth by your external wealth may not be the surest route to happiness.
  • Expectations to have the latest gadget, the latest fashion, the latest must-have, a bigger house, a better car….
    Rather than constantly consuming, give less a try – work out what possessions actually give you enough joy to be worth swapping your money and time cleaning, repairing, insuring, replacing and worrying over.

There is a good adage that says nothing is worth the price of worry. More leads to more worry. Less leads to less worry.

The wealth required by nature is limited and is easy to procure; but the wealth required by vain ideals extends to infinity. – Epicurus

So, next time someone asks you if you want more, tell Epicurus “I’ve got this one covered.”

and then reply…
“No thanks, I’ve already got as much of that pesky ‘more’ as I can handle. But have you got any of that good old ‘less’ back there? I could sure do with a lot more of that.”

About the author:

Laura Tong is on a mission to help you reduce stress and grow your happiness by simplifying your life. Download her free cheat sheet: 5 Guilt Free Ways To Say No Without Offending Anyone 

About the author

Laura Tong

Laura Tong is Assistant Editor here at Goodlife ZEN. Laura's writing regularly feature on such top blogs as Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha and of course, Goodlife ZEN. Her articles have been read and shared by thousands - and hundreds of students have taken her course on building confidence, being more assertive and saying no. Grab her free cheat sheet: 5 Guilt Free Ways To Say No Without Offending Anyone (Even If You Hate Conflict). Laura also hosts the Re-write The Rules In Your Life interview series where she shares awesome happiness and positivity tips from experts around the world. Click here to listen free to the latest episodes. If you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed download her free: Simple But Magical Stress-Busting Tips You Can Use Anywhere, Anytime in 5 Minutes or Less (Even if Your Day's Gone Up in Smoke).


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