Admirable Simplicty

Admirable Simplicty

The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.” - Socrates

About two months ago, I was reading Hacker News and I came across the article 5 Minimalist Things that I Do to Piss off My Girlfriend. I was enthralled at the thought of getting rid of more. You see, awhile back I was tired of feeling like I had to clean up my apartment so much. I had an epiphany that if I got rid of it, it wouldn’t need to be ‘cleaned’ or put away. I then went through my house and got rid of more stuff. The thought of the concept of detoxifying my life started to develop. The thought of wanting less is starting to become more and more fulfilling in my life.

I really admire simplicity. In product design and in personal lives. I recently came across a new model for simplicity. Thomas Hintz strives for simplicity everywhere. His site, his software, his life. I love it. Some would say he’s gone too far, as he doesn’t have a chair, a dresser, or a bed. I would say kudos to him. Stuff breeds clutter, clutter steals your thoughts. Stolen thoughts equates to less productivity. Modern society wants us to keep up with Joneses though. Marketers don’t help with this. We must remember the true cost of possessions.

I love this essay on the true cost of stuff:

  • It clutters our space, causing distractions and stress.
  • We must constantly move it to get to other stuff, to clean, to organize, to paint walls or decorate or remodel.
  • We must take it with us if we move, and often if we travel. That’s a ton of trouble and costs.
  • Often we pay for extra storage, outside in our yards or in storage facilities.
  • If it breaks, we will often take it to be repaired.
  • If we have kids or pets, we have to worry about it getting broken, or scold them for not being careful with it.
  • If we get used to it, and it breaks, we’ll replace it because we think we need it.
  • If it gets old and crotchety, we have the headache of putting up with a less-than-functioning tool.
  • If we have too much stuff, it weighs us down, emotionally.
  • We get attached to our stuff, creating an emotional battle when we consider giving it up (whether we actually give it up or not).
  • If we have too much stuff, we live in a cramped space, and don’t have room for our other stuff.
  • Too much stuff causes more messes and is harder to clean.
  • We might trip over stuff and hurt ourselves.
  • If we don’t trip over it, we must worry about that each time we pass by the item.
  • If we went into debt buying the stuff, we must deal with all the pain and worry of that debt, added to other debt.
  • Even if we don’t go into debt, there’s the added burden of dealing with the financial transaction in our checking registers or financial software, or reconciling it with the bank statement. If we even bother, because sometimes it’s just too much.
  • It gives us a false sense of security.
  • It reduces the time we have to spend doing things, instead of worrying about, cleaning, maintaining, using, and working to pay for stuff.
  • It reduces the quality of the time we do have.
  • At some point, we must worry about (and spend time and money on) getting rid of the item. This means time and money spent on Ebay, Craiglist, a yardsale, giving it to a charity or friend or relative (and the driving required to do that), taking out a classified ad, dealing with buyers, and so on. A real headache.
  • If you die and leave your stuff, your relatives will have to deal with all of it. A real headache indeed.
  • If, goodness forbid, a natural disaster happens, or your home gets burgled, you’ll have to deal with the emotional loss of stuff.

Bring simplicity and minimalism into your life, and it’ll find its way into your product designs. Your customers will thank you.

How do you view simplicity? Am I crazy for trying to espouse these ideals and reduction of possessions? I would love to read your thoughts.

You can follow me on Twitter @jprichardson


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