Graham Hill, Founder of lifeedited.com, presented “Less Stuff, Space, and Energy. More Time, Money, and Freedom” on the TED stage in 2011. In his talk, he tells us how he sold a website company before websites were even a thing for $10,000,000 (USD) and went on a spending spree thereafter to fill the void that came with the space in his newly purchased, enormous American home. That void was, according to Hill, not nearly as big as the void he felt in owning all of this stuff.
He came to a conclusion that the only way to go was to get rid of it all, every single thing, and buy a 400ft Manhattan apartment and transform it into a space that could house his office, bed, dining table for 10 guests, beds for guests, as well as a kitchen and a bathroom. This is his concept:
He reaffirmed the well known, albeit less practiced, phrase of “less is more” and said that his new found sense of space that only housed the possessions that he could love for all the years to come, as opposed to the crap we fill up our homes with, “gave you a little more freedom and a little more time”. More importantly, for me, he said that “too much stuff is making us less happy”.
I was quite interested in this theory, as we are all aware of the snippet of happiness a new pair of shoes can bring, or a new laptop, a new car, your wedding, a holiday, or a music concert. What I am about to profess is worthy of a whole other blog, but I will say it now anyway and explain later: “The happiness that these events induce doesn’t last that long,” because, as Scientist Matt Killingsworth says, “happiness is an emotion; it’s a feeling. The human brain isn’t built to sustain a single emotion”. He is basically saying that whatever you’re doing through experiencing events or purchasing – it’s pointless. You will always revert back to your personal base line of happiness that is built up by your genetic, environment, and sociological make-up.
Most of my money goes on crap, or flights back to England. This being said, and having listened to Graham, I thought how easy it would be for me to edit my life. I live in an apartment with no concrete plans to stay or leave and I arrived in New Zealand with a suitcase 3 years ago and I could now return to England with maybe two shipping containers. It would mostly be filled with stuff. Therefore, I decided today to edit my life of all this crap. All that really, truly, makes me happy in this apartment, with the obvious exception of wine and food in my fridge, are my books, my paints, my memories box, (the last 3 years of worldly travels), and the clothes I wear often. Therefore, I decided, I don’t actually need anything else.
So, I got rid of everything I hadn’t worn in the last 6 months and left aside some things that if I don’t wear this week I have to get rid of next Saturday. I also bulldozed my toilet cupboard, my bed side drawers, and my shelves. In this process I realised a Secret of Adulthood; that the past few years I have tried really hard to be someone I thought I wanted to be, or, less harshly, was testing out if I could or even wanted to be that person. I am sure most girls or boys my age have experienced the same thing and like me probably still are.
Clearing out all of these crap holes helped me come to some revolutionary understandings about my 27 year old self.
I finally realised I am not someone who:
- can wear white jeans; ass too curvy, pants too big, for that kind of shameful dressing.
- is still young enough to pull off a choker; too old.
- can pull off pleather trousers; this is not the 90s.
- can wear crop tops; relative child bearing hips arrived the last few years. Not a good muffin top look.
- wears linen trousers on holiday; I do not wear linen trousers full stop. I am not a different person when on holiday contrary to what my home self thinks.
- wears active wear to the cafe; active wear is for active activities.
- uses FemFresh; just have a wash with water.
- who moisturises body parts
- can wear flamboyant earrings and head scarves
- suits lipstick / eye shadow; look like someone from the night
And I am someone who:
- suits culottes, jumpsuits, black, grey, dresses, simple jewellery
- enjoys lots of the same thing that I know are good / useful / fit well – in preparation for when I run out, or they break.
- Is sentimental; I wore the top on the left with my sister at the colour run March 2o16 and haven’t laughed or had so much fun on a run since. The top on the right I wore when I volunteered at the Auckland Writers Festival and oversaw the writer’s signing table and met some serious heroes – Jeanette Winterson (author of Orange is not the only colour), Gloria Steinham (avid, iconic feminist), and The Topp Twins (all round childhood legends), and many more. They all touched that top.
- now knows all of the above thanks to editing my life.
I highly recommend you give it a go… I kept only the jewellery I had worn in the last 6 months and the sentimental bits, and gave the rest to charity. Now I can see what I own and will therefore hopefully wear and feel like I never need a new piece of jewellery again.
I also now have an exceptionally orderly wardrobe and I feel excited for Monday to pick the outfit that jumps out at me from all of that space. Sunday win.
Listen to an entire Simply Happy TED Talk here: