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.

American red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus)

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.