We live in a world where buying new things makes us feel good…at least initially. Buying things gives us a release of dopamine – a feel good hormone but it doesn’t last long. We buy new clothes, cosmetics, furniture, ornaments, houses, cars…there is always something else to buy. Yet the truth of the matter is that you don’t need more stuff. Buying stuff makes the capitalistic world we live in go round but it’s a myth that we need so much of it.
The more stuff we had the more grounded we are in the physical world with many of us mistakenly believing that the more stuff we have the happier we will be. Research has shown time and time again that this belief is completely false. In fact, it is often those with less that are happier. The more stuff you have, the more you have to lug around with you when you move. The more stuff you have the more you have to clean it and maintain it. The more stuff you have the more you might possibly lose in the materialistic sense.
Experiences and people are where it’s at
If you want to be truly happier and for longer than the brief duration of a dopamine hit, spend your well earned money on experiences and spend more time around others. The feel good hormone Oxytocin releases when we spend time with others (and animals) and this hormone is longer lasting than dopamine. Nature’s way of encouraging human interaction and affection!
When you visit people in old age homes, you never see photos of their cars, houses or degrees up on the walls. When it comes down to what’s truly important – it’s all about people and pets. That’s what you see on their walls. We can all learn a lot from the older generation.
Make life simpler
Less clutter is good for mental health. The less you have the less you need to worry about. Ask yourself before you buy something whether you truly need it (rather than just wanting it – the novelty will wear off and it will end up as clutter). Also ask yourself if you have something similar – there’s no point in having two similar items, that’s just a waste.
Think about the environment too
Throw-away clothing isn’t good for the enironment. If you buy an item of clothing, ideally you should commit to wearing it at least 30 times. Use this as a guideline. The more you recycle clothing the better too. Take clothing that you no longer wear or want to second hand shops. Having a clear out feels so soothing, have you ever tried it?
I get a great sense of achievement when I have a clear out and end up with more space and less clutter.
You don’t need stuff to make you happy or happier – it’s just not true. So buy less and experience more, that’s my good advice for the new year.