Most of us would agree that a materialistic life is not a fulfilling one. More clothes, bigger houses, the latest electronic gadgets, newer and flashier cars… these things might bring temporary enjoyment, but a life based around acquiring things can feel pretty empty. The reason is simple… “stuff” doesn’t equal happiness.

So what about the idea that many people have nowadays that less stuff equals happiness? It’s really the same mindset carried to the opposite extreme. One group thinks that buying another new thing will make life better… one more purchase will make life happier. The other group thinks that ridding themselves of another existing possession will make life better… one more act of purging will make life happier.

Both groups are putting far too much importance on “things.” It’s possible to be happy living in one room with few possessions… or in a mansion filled with the finest of everything. It’s also possible to be miserable in both situations. Lasting happiness comes from relationships and spiritual and emotional fulfillment… it isn’t determined by how much stuff you have, or the process of acquiring it or purging it. The person who has simplified his life isn’t happy because he has less stuff… he is happy because he has achieved inner peace.

There are some very good reasons for purging and decluttering, but compulsive purgers who purge for the purge itself are just as excessively focused on stuff as compulsive shoppers are.

And that is not the path to achieving true and lasting simplicity.

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So true!!! Wonderful post and wonderful blog. Thank you so much for your gentle approach to simplicity.


i can see how letting purging stuff can get compulsive, that’s why i keep the the things i enjoy like books, and i just want to get rid of anything that doesn’t make me happy and feels like a distraction.


Like the one thing in one thing out idea. I think that is as bad as always wanting to buy something. I’m with you on this. I get rid of stuff if I don’t need or want it but I purge for a reason and not just to purge.


Oh–thank you so much for such a sweet, balanced view!


Great blog! It’s refreshing and uplifting to read so much that is on par with my own thoughts.


Thank you for posting this. This is an insight I had never thought of before, but was obvious when I read it.

Rebekah M.

That’s a distinction worthy of noting. Thanks for giving us new ways to think about things.


Good read. I like stuff. In particular, I like really good stuff. I would rather have three great knives than a drawer full of cheap ones. I would prefer four wonderful cook pots than a dozen from Kmart. Give me one fine fishing rod; I can’t use or want a closet full or garage of recreational toys. Thoreau had it right with his advice to simplify. Better to own just the things you truly need and enjoy. A downsized life is one where you are in control. And you own your stuff, it does not own you.


Hi, new here. Cool site. Some “things” help me live more simply, such as my food processor. Yes, it’s an electric gadget and a convenience that some die-hard people might consider an excessive luxury, but because of it I am WAY more likely to prepare certain foods at home with my own choice of ingredients (hummus, pestos & sauces with organic veggies & herbs from my garden, etc). I like that this site emphasizes choice.