The Joy Of Less: 36 Inspiring Confessions From People Who Found Happiness In Simplifying Their Lives

“Our home is a living space, not a storage space.” – Francine Jay

Happiness doesn’t come from having more, but rather from being able to appreciate what we already have. Below are touching confessions from the book “Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Joy of Less: 101 Stories about Having More by Simplifying Our Lives” by people who found happiness in simplifying their lives to inspire you:


“When I added up the amount of time spent purging the stuff, not to mention the buying, I realized I had been wasting the most precious gift I had been given… my life.”


“We’ve learned the importance of what is referred to as the “one thing in, one thing out” rule.”


“I would imagine the gone, and a sense of freedom and weightlessness would come over me.”


“I can’t help but wonder, how many priceless memories never would have been made if we’d kept our television.”


“What we have isn’t as important to us as who we have in our lives.”


“I learned a very big lesson. Use it or give it to someone who can.”


“I began to realize that I already had my dream home. One that enabled me to have freedom from loads of debt while still meeting all of my family’s needs. I didn’t need a certain zip code or amount of square footage to make me happy.”


“Memories are not made of things but of relationships. Lives are not connected by objects but by stories about those things. Appreciating family heirloom can be a wonderful thing, but allowing possessions to possess us is not.”


“The reasons people hold on so tightly to stuff they don’t use it because they think they might need it someday, or because it reminds them of a person or a time from their past. Maybe it gives them a sense of security, of safety in a world that sometimes feels too large, too impersonal, too lonely. Jimmy and I have learned that most stuff can be easily and cheaply replaced if you need it, and is quickly forgotten when out of sight. And those forever memories are carried with us in our hearts, not our attics, and are all we really need. How often do you actually dig Aunt Helen’s teapot or Grandpa Jack’s old Derby out of the attic and thing about the departed? More often it’s an old song, the smell of fresh-dried lavender, the taste of rhubarb pie catching you unaware, that triggers memories and brings those loved ones back to you for a brief moment.”


“It occurred to me that none of us truly owns our possessions. Every item you have must be cared for, kept clean and, sometimes, insured. Rather than “owning” possessions, after a time, they “own” us.”


“When I look back at all those years, I was paying storage fees, I think about how I could have used that money to help put some of my grandchildren through college. As I write this, I wonder what took me so long?”


“As I emptied the walls, I was overcome with an unexpected sensation. The rooms suddenly felt brighter, cleaner, sunnier, larger.”


“The “one bag rule” has been so successful that today I refuse to go anywhere with more than one bag, be it a weeklong trip or a day at the mall. Teaching myself that I didn’t need as much stuff made me stronger, braver, calmer, more adventurous and so much happier.”


“I calculate that the TV is on in our house for about fifteen hours a day! That’s 105 hours a week, 450 hours a month, 5400 a year! Gone are the days of reading, sewing, painting, taking walks, or sitting on the swing in the garden talking to old friends on the phone. All are put off until the next commercial or the end of the show.

It’s time to take my life back. I’m taking the plunge and disconnecting from TV.”


“Spending less time in virtual reality strengthened our family bonds. Now we spend more time updating the status of our relationship with each other than any of our social media accounts. Who knew unplugging could lead to feeling so plugged in?”


“We sometimes count our blessings in things. The truth is one of the greatest blessings we have is our own ability to look beyond ourselves.”


“Learning to live without the items that we thought were essential helped us to realize that they weren’t essential at all.”


“It occurred to me that I had bought so many things that were supposed to make life easier and better, but they’d done just the opposite.”


“I never knew we could be more content with so much less stuff and less space. Our ancestors may have lived with less stuff and in one-room homes from necessity, but today we are choosing this life every day because it allows us to focus on each other. Sure, there are moments where I feel like I might explode from the intensity of sound and proximity. Yes, there are times I fire up the van and squeal away to a coffee shop to just hear my own thoughts! Yet, I now feel such depth of joy and connection in my life.”


“I realized that I didn’t need or even care about all the luxuries afforded to me back home. The size of my house, the labels on my wardrobe, inclusion in a social scene. What did that really matter? What did that prove about my worth? Absolutely nothing. And that knowledge was absolutely freeing.”


“We have realized how little we really need to be happy. We have learned how the most important moments in life aren’t when we get new gifts or things, but when we live happy moments with our family and friends. We know that experiences are the best treasures.”


“I kept the things I most loved and became very creative with how I used them. Several years later, I still live fairly simply and far more thoughtfully. Do I have a use for it and a place for it? And do I really love it, or would someone else love it even more?”


“You don’t need entertainment, a fancy cake or even a piñata to make a birthday memorable. You just need to share it with someone special.”


“Here’s my mantra: Release the stuff, unleash the magic.”


“Here’s what I learned:
1- Stuff does not bring happiness.
2- Before I buy anything, I re-evaluate the cost and need.
3- Nothing will change until my heart wants it to change.
4- We are all on this earth to help one another and we all have to do our part.
5- When we pour out our lives for others, we are the ones who experience the happiness and feel fulfilled.”


“From that moment on, I have asked myself this question: “Can you without this?” If my answer is yes, or if I have to think about it for a moment, I don’t buy it. My closet today is one-tenth the size it used to be and nowhere near filled. It brings me tremendous joy when I see how simple life can be just by looking in my closet. I love my clothes and I wear each and every piece. No longer do I look around at my life and think, “What a waste.” Rather, I think, “What a blessing to be so free from the chains of STUFF.””


“As I reduced my possessions, giving them away to the people who really needed them, the amount of pleasure I got from life increased. I no longer took hours to get ready, hunting for missing items or trying to salvage an ill-matched outfit. The constant hum of anxiety, which I’d dragged around with me since my twenties, began to abate and in its place, I found freedom.”


“I spent three years in Nigeria, teaching underprivileged school children, and in return I learnt the most valuable lessons of all: possessions will not make you happy but people might; experiences are worth more than the world’s most amazing dress; what you lose in clutter, you’ll gain in joy; don’t choose trappings, choose life.”


“How do you know when you have enough? I struggled with that question until I remembered the quote from John D. Rockefeller. He was once asked, “How much money is enough?” he answered, “Just a little bit more.” I decided I didn’t want to be someone who spent her life chasing “just a little bit more.””


“I’ve learned to appreciate the worth of all my experiences. I’ve also learned to be content with what I have. Others may have more, but I have enough… and enough is just right for me.”


“During my five years without credit cards and a limited, irregular cash flow, I developed some of the traits of people who survived the Great Depression. Forget about shopping for trendy new outfits. I now wanted to wear my clothes until they fell apart. Who was treating everyone to dinner now? It certainly wasn’t me. My gifts became more thoughtful and less expensive. One Christmas I made everyone brownies and these were received with much more enthusiasm than my usual store-bought offerings. When I was finally free to resume using credit cards, I didn’t. For big purchases, I used my debit card and anything under $200 was strictly cash. If I didn’t have the cash, the purchase could, and did, wait.”


“When I was younger, I loved to “try on” new things: new activities, new foods, new people… to see what suited me. Now that I’m older, I finally know myself. These days I’m simplifying my life; with fewer hobbies and commitments, I need less stuff. I can get rid of the dance shoes, athletic gear, and business suits that were part of my old lifestyle, as well as the home furnishings, beauty products, and even people in my life who are no longer right for me. And when it comes to jewelry, I’ve come to realize that I’m not the diamond tennis bracelet type. I had to lose all those sparkling things to find my own sparkle. As I’m paring down my lifestyle and possessions, I’m homing in on the essence of me.”


“We make less money, live in a much smaller house, and have a lot less stuff, but we are so much happier. Our lives are not focused on taking care of the house, making more money and acquiring more stuff, but building lasting relationships and making more memories. Life is focused now on what we are putting into our hearts and not what we are putting into our closets.”


“Two years later, I feel differently about the fire. Despite the loss of valued mementoes, the fire did burn away a lot of needless clutter from my home and my life. I discovered that life is much easier with fewer items and less “stuff” to clutter the journey. I didn’t replace many of the things that I thought were necessities before the fire. My newly built home is cleaner and has more open space, as do I.”


“We’ve been very happy in our new home, half the size of our old one. We have half as much stuff as we did before. We don’t miss it, and we have not lost the happy memories of our old home. Those came with us, and they were the only things we never had to box up or unpack.”


“By taking control of my closet, life became a little easier. I decided never again to own more than twenty pairs of shoes. I’ve kept to my rule though there are occasions when I find myself gazing at a snappy pair of shoes marked down to nearly nothing. But there’s truth in numbers. My twenty-pair rule shapes the parameters of my shopping. I can’t add new shoes without subtracting old ones. This formula helps me think a lot harder before succumbing to temptation and making a purchase.”

Aim for a life where there is:

Less TV, more reading
Less junk food, more real food
Less clutter, more space
Less consuming, more creating
Less worrying, more smiling

Before buying something new, ask yourself:

Will I use it?
Do I want to store it?
Do I want to clean or maintain it?
Would I rather with the money buy something else?

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The Book: Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Joy of Less: 101 Stories about Having More by Simplifying Our Lives

The ABCD Diaries: Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Joy of Less + ...

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