But He Loves You…

The title is from a classic George Carlin skit about the oxymoron of Christianity with the best possible delivery ever, speaking about the idea of “god-fearing” vs. a loving god. The title came into my head after reading “But Will It Make You Happy?” where I can just hear the minimalist saying “And you buy stuff, and more stuff, and cars, and trucks, and work hard, and make money, and invest, and gloat, and consume, and destroy, and make as muchmoneyasyoupossiblycaninyourentirelife!….but will it make you happy?”

Empty shelves, empty life! src

For a woman in California with a pretty decent life, it wasn’t. She and her husband gave away almost everything, pairing their possessions, and basically their life, down to 100 items. The idea has been around for a couple years now, based upon the “100 Thing Challenge” by David Michael Bruno (who successfully did it in 2008). They moved into a 400-square foot studio, and found healthier albeit lower-paying jobs. But the income is no problem – they have no cars, no debt, and plenty of free time to do what they like while living a happier and more exuberant existence.

I think many of us want this lifestyle: working from home, being car-less, or even just having less stuff, but it’s hard to figure out where to start. Considering giving up one thing leads to a reason why you shouldn’t, and the snowball effect works quickly: “but what if I need this…” Once, during a college move-out, my room mate and I analyzed some boxes of stuff in the basement that we hadn’t touched all year. If we hadn’t used any of the stuff in eight months, we rationalized, it was probably safe to get rid of it.

The New York Times article mentioned delves into the research between “stuff” and happiness, some origins of commercialism, and how people are slowly trying to combat it now, in a recessive economy and technological revolution (you could get rid of your camera, ipod, and phone, for instance, and get an iPhone). One study found that

wealth interfered with people’s ability to savor positive emotions and experiences, because having an embarrassment of riches reduced the ability to reap enjoyment from life’s smaller everyday pleasures, like eating a chocolate bar.

Now, let me tell you what, nothing better come between me and my chocolate bars! But seriously, who says that can’t be just as enjoyable as buying a new TV? It’s really up to you as the video in the first post of the blog explains. For some more information on getting rid of stuff, check out “Declutter 101:Cut Clutter at Home.”