Being happier while buying less runs contrary to the popular American concept of “more is better.” As our society moves onward and upward, many people have become disillusioned with all their “stuff”. True happiness, purpose, compassion and direction in life does not come from the size and location of your home, the type of vehicle you drive, how much money you make or the “stuff” you are able to buy. And for some, the idea that buying less “stuff” and living a simplified life actually makes you a happier person has began to emerge. Here are some ideas of how buying less can actually make you a much happier person.

1. Distinguish between your wants and needs. Before you make a purchase, question yourself and answer honestly. Why am I buying this item? Can I afford it? Will my life improve after buying this item? Is there a practical use for it? If you can’t give yourself a “Yes” answer, then you probably just “want” it.

2. Spend your time, not your money, on friends and family. Cultivating a more meaningful relationship that’s not influenced by some type of monetary value promotes a healthy degree of happiness in your life that can’t be obtained with material possessions.

3. Learn to create, build, fix, refurbish and reuse items. These times of creativity and sharing are also valuable opportunities to come together with family and friends. Time shared caring about and helping others is time well spent. It also tends to promote happiness and a sense of purpose in your life.

4. Debt can be one of the biggest robbers of happiness in a persons life. Pay cash, use a debit card or write a check when you make a purchase. Doing so will help provide an extra layer of security between you and debt. Buying less “stuff” usually means less debt and less stress, which can lead to a happier you!

5. Change your perspective about the role of stuff in your life. Think about the big picture before making purchases. Will buying this flat screen television make me a better person? If I buy this new car, will it make a real difference in my life or others around me? What are the true reasons for making this purchase?

6. Stop thinking in terms of “stuff” and start thinking in terms of relationships. This kind of thinking will require a major shift of priorities in your life. It’s a lot harder than it sounds and it may make you uncomfortable at times. It requires that you learn how to put other people and their needs ahead of the “stuff” in your life. If you can mange to accomplish this, your life will take on more purpose and meaning.

7. Take time to find out what true happiness means to you. When you are not trying to fill some imagined void with material things, it gives you breathing room to figure out what makes you tick as an individual. Accumulating stuff is probably not what really makes you happy and gives you direction. Dig deep and learn something new about yourself. Keep a journal, meditate and spend time alone.

As you begin to cultivate meaningful relationships with other people instead of buying and surrounding yourself with “stuff”, you will likely find that you are a much happier person. You may also find that people  are curious as to why you are so happy. Many of them may even be looking for a way to get back that missing piece of happiness in their own life. If material possessions are the driving force behind your day to day life, I challenge you to open your mind and see the bigger picture in life. One that does not put you and your “wants” as the central focus point.

I wish you true happiness and the best of luck in all of your journeys…