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I think there’s a lot to the concept of owning less. While I’m not ready to give up my house and most of my worldly possessions, I have been thinking a lot more before I buy new things. In today’s post I share my thoughts about switching from buying stuff to investing in experiences instead.

We live in a material society where our main goal seems to be to acquire more stuff. We buy bigger cars, bigger houses, and of course, lots and lots of stuff to fill these houses. The idea is that we can buy happiness by buying more “stuff.” We’ve been living this way in the western world for quite some time. But are we really happier with all those material possessions?

More and more people are starting to feel that all this extra stuff weighs us down and adds to the stress we’re feeling. All these things have to be taken care of and with bigger houses and cars come bigger maintenance issues and repair costs.

In the search for happiness there is a new trend of owning less, and living simpler, more minimalistic lives. We see it in the trend towards minimalism, tiny houses, and in the success of books like The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. There must be something to this idea of owning less and focusing less on buying and owning things.

Does this mean that to be happy we need to give away all our stuff and move into a tiny house or apartment? Of course not. But what it may indicate is that spending a little time decluttering and getting rid of some things can give us a feeling of breathing room and freedom.

It also means that instead of accumulating more stuff, we should try focusing on experiences. Instead of buying a fancy car, new furniture, or a new set of golf clubs, take that money and spend it on a fun family trip. Use it to spend quality time with your loved ones and make beautiful memories. Not only will you increase your happiness during the time you’re on vacation, you’ll also feel joy as you remember this trip and the time spent with your spouse and kids.

You don’t even have to go that far. Vacations are great, but we can’t take them all the time and they aren’t always practical. Think of spending quality time instead of buying gifts. Instead of buying another shirt or book for your mom or best friend, take her out on her birthday for lunch and some girl time. Instead of picking up another electronic gadget or tool, go hang out with the guys at the ballpark and cheer on your favorite team. Think experiences and making memories instead of buying more stuff.