What’s after Stuffocation?

Family room and stuff

Author James Wallman takes readers beyond the typical “how to declutter” approach in handling our stuff and our life to something deeper and more life-changing. This post includes a short video of Wallman along with his suggestion on how to increase our happiness while downsizing our stuff and lifestyle.

Stuffocation: Living More With Less by James Wallman

Some memorable quotes from this video are:

“Stuffocation is one of the defining problems of the 21st Century.”

“The idea that instead of looking for identity, happiness, status in material goods and stuff, as we used to, we should find these things in experiences instead.”

“Experientialism has the potential to transform life in the 21st Century.”

The Experience Revolution


James calls the next level of development the “experience revolution”.

Wallman quotes a number of psychologists who have identified five key reasons experiences are better than things when it comes to making us happy. Wallman adds a sixth reason. The six reasons are:

  1. Experiences, even negative ones, are open to “positive re-interpretation”. In other words, we remember the good parts of an experience and downplay the bad parts. We even embellish an experience to make it better.
  2. We adapt to having a possession. We become used to it and the novelty wears off.
  3. Experiences are harder to compare than material possessions since the value of any experience is subjective.
  4. Experiences can contribute to our identity. We are more likely to associate our experiences with who we are as a person. We would rather have the memory of an event rather than an item that was part of the event. (Of course, we often have difficulty parting with things that we associate with an event since it helps us recall the event or experience. This is often a key point in making downsizing difficult.)
  5. Experiences make us happier because they bring us closer to others. After all, we are social beings. Wallman further outlines three dimensions to this fifth reason. His book contains more details.
  6. Wallman’s sixth reason: The unintended consequences of having more things are more stress and unhappiness.

Wallman goes on to say experientialists can either be motivated by a desire to get rid of their stuff and simplify their life (minimalists) or by the desire to leave their current materialistic lifestyle for something more satisfying.

You can learn more from this insightful, trend forecaster in his book, which is available at Amazon and other booksellers. It is published in softcover, hardcover and Kindle formats.

“Wallman’s solution is to focus less on possessions and more on experiences. It is a manifesto for a vital change in how you live – and it’s the one book you won’t be able to live without.”

What are your thoughts on stuff vs. experiences?

* You may notice some Canadian spelling in these posts. The words may look odd but that’s how we spell them. We’re used to it.

Do you have a blog or podcast related to downsizing?  Where can we find it?

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Quill pen

Unless otherwise credited, all posts are happily authored with a quill pen …
Paul Ferri, Broker, ASA (Accredited Senior Agent)
RE/MAX Unique Inc. Brokerage*, Toronto, Canada
*Each office independently owned and operated.

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