Why Choose Experiences Over Stuff?

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My web page is entitled “Nomadic Choice” because I’m choosing to live a life of experiences over stuff. Choosing to buy, own, and store fewer material possessions gives me the freedom to have more travel and other life experiences. It’s a lifestyle choice.

 

Excess in America

America is in a crisis of materialism. We live in a culture which urges us to do almost anything to consume more stuff. Our society prods us from the time we are children to want want want and to buy buy buy.

Only 3% of the world’s children live in the US, but they own 40% of the toys. On an average day a kid will play with less than a dozen toys. It’s excessive.

We run up our credit cards, saddle ourselves with mortgages for homes we can’t afford only to work longer hours and more years to continue a lifestyle of excess. It’s a life of running on a hamster wheel to keep up with the Jones’.

Consumerism burdens us versus makes us happy. On average, Americans have three times the living space we had fifty years ago and yet there is a booming $38B self-storage business for storing stuff that doesn’t fit into our super-sized homes. This has left all of us overwhelmed, cluttered, disorganized, stressed and unhappy.

Americans also consume food in excess. We are among the fattest and unhealthy people on the planet with two-thirds of adults considered to be overweight or obese.

We’re overachievers on consumption in just about every category: food, gas, energy, and the amount of stuff we buy and throw away! WE are 5% of the world’s population and we generate 30% of the worlds trash. The environmental consequences of our excess are a gift we give to generations to come.

Do you ever wonder…Why do we buy things we don’t need from money we don’t have to impress people we don’t care about?

And yet there is a better way.

Minimalism

There’s a concept called “Minimalism”. Minimalism is a ticket to freedom from the burden of American consumerism. Less stuff equals fewer things, a simpler life and lower debt. And here’s the deal: Having less stuff is LIBERATING!

First things first. Don’t get the impression that I’m extreme on this. We all need to make a living, to own things, so don’t get me wrong it’s okay to own things. The idea is that if we free ourselves of the cycle of buying to excess and the need to keep up with the Jones’ then we can spend less and own only the stuff that we truly need.

The end result is a sense of FREEDOM.

I’ve been a minimalist now for about ten years and I continue to work at this and evolve so I’ve not perfected it by any means. The truth is I’ve never been happier. I own essentials and I travel and prioritize experiences over stuff. A life-long learner, I read, study and keep interested in new things all the time because learning gives me energy.

I’m healthier than I’ve been in a long time and I sleep, eat and exercise in a healthier way than ever before. I’m free and happy.

The plot twist is this choice of a lifestyle for me is that I spent ten years as a Director of Marketing for a Fortune 10 company. My life energy was poured into generating the incessant drumbeat of advertising to consumers with messages to buy more, spend more and to keep coming back. There’s a good chance I prompted the sale of a lot of stuff to people who really didn’t need it.

Now, I live a comfortable lifestyle that includes a car, a nice home, and household items. However, my closets, drawers, kitchen cabinets are populated with only the things that I love and absolutely need. Most of the drawers and closets are not full and I prefer it that way! I buy fewer and often higher quality things that last longer.

My inspiration for Minimalism

Having traveled to impoverished third world countries, I have witnessed extreme poverty. Two weeks spent in Africa in the poorest country on the continent, Malawi is one example of first hand witness to scarcity. Several hundred people living in a village without running water, heat or much more than the clothes on their back.

Managing life with very few possessions their norm. During fourteen days there I saw only two toys: a soccer ball and a makeshift toy fashioned from a hangar, a milk bottle and rocks. Dozens of children scrummed a single soccer ball running barefoot in the red powdery dirt while squealing in delight.

The most amazing thing that struck me these “impoverished” children living in very difficult circumstances is that they weren’t noticeably unhappy. In fact, the opposite! At play they displayed sheer joy and happiness despite their dire situation.

We somehow equate money and possessions with happiness and poverty and lack of possessions as unhappiness. Social scientists have long debunked this myth. The reality is when we have enough to cover our basic needs we are happy.

My African experience changed my life. I realized the extreme over-abundance of stuff I personally owned and that all of these things I owned weren’t making me any happier.

Out of Africa I took an important lesson: I could meet my basic needs and be so much happier. I could choose to get off or at least slow down the hamster wheel I was running on by working less, owning less and instead choosing to travel more thereby living a more meaningful life.

So began my journey for a life of less: less stuff, clutter, debt and unhappiness. Ironically also a life of MORE: more joy, more time, more money and better relationships.

10 Benefits of minimalism

  1. Save Money
  2. Have more time to do what I want
  3. Have more experiences
  4. More time for health and exercise
  5. Better relationships
  6. Stay more organized
  7. Keep my mind clear by living clutter free
  8. Rid my home of stuff
  9. Freedom from being overwhelmed with stuff
  10. Enjoy a more peaceful and comfortable space to live in

5 Tips to consider

  1. PURGE and do this ruthlessly
  2. Don’t bring things into your home that you don’t LOVE
  3. Buy things that are higher quality so they last longer
  4. Select multi-purpose items
  5. Don’t shop for ‘entertainment’

For me, I live a happier life by living as a minimalist. Less is truly more! I’ll leave you with this fabulous quote:

“There’s only so much money a man really needs; the rest is just for showing off.” – Forrest Gump

2 comments on “Why Choose Experiences Over Stuff?

  1. Beautiful truth but hard to live by. Unless you live in a pop-up camper. Then you have only enough room for a few shirts and pants and shoes. Two plates, bowls, cups, pans to cook. So choices are now easy in every aspect of daily living…. this or that. And you can buy nothing as there is no room. Love your blog!

    • Good point Karen. Know that you and Joe have lived this life. Thanks for the compliment on the blog. Let me know if there is a topic or story you would like to hear. Take Care and safe travels on the road. If you ever feel compelled to be a guest blogger I would be honored to have you as a guest blogger.

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