06 Mar More is definitely less; for more happiness, simplify…
You’re addicted to your phone. You’re loaded down by useless stuff. And you eat like a teenager. No wonder you can’t find the time to play outside, see the world, and get in shape. Fortunately, streamlining your life—and having more fun—is easy: just do less. Here’s how.
For centuries, people leaned into the popular (and false) belief that possession—material wealth and stature—was synonymous with happiness. But now minimalism is on the rise, and for good reason: it works. With the popular Netflix film Minimalism: A Documentary About Important Things and the massive bestselling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up emphasizing the benefits of decluttering, it’s no surprise that more and more people are cleaning out gear closets, streamlining their workouts, and buying less stuff. Because when you do, there’s way more room for adventure.
The first piece of furniture I ever bought kept me up at night. I was 25 years old, and the offending item was a 60-pound oak armoire the color of whiskey and the size of a standard refrigerator. It wasn’t the price or the quality of its construction that triggered the angst. It was what it represented. I now owned something that couldn’t fit in my rooftop RocketBox. I saw my adult life beginning, along with a relentless accumulation of more stuff. That armoire was the loss of my freedom.
Looking around my house nearly 20 years later, my vision was prescient. I’ve collected more things than I want, and finding a place to put them all is a daily struggle. My twentysomething anxiety wasn’t unfounded, either. Research has revealed a troubling paradox: not only is clutter a cause of stress, but so is getting rid of things. For some people, the very act of shedding a possession triggers activity in the anterior cingulate cortex and the insula, the same parts of the brain that register physical pain. Which explains why millions of Americans, including me, have plunked down $10 for yet another possession: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, a bestseller by Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo. According to Kondo, dealing with your clutter can improve your well-being. “A dramatic reorganization of the home causes correspondingly dramatic changes in lifestyle and perspective,” she writes. “It is life transforming.”
I bought my copy thinking it would be a needed catalyst for the garage-cleaning project I’d been putting off for two years. Inside is my gear stash, proof of a lifetime of adventure and the only possessions I’d truly mourn in a house fire. Crampons that have felt summits from the Cascades to the Himalayas. My first road bike. The BOB stroller that logged hundreds of miles as I trained for ultras and jogged my two small children to sleep. A lot of this stuff hasn’t been used in years, rendered obsolete by shinier new toys or my shifting passions. It was piling up. The issue came to a head when my fiancée moved in, along with her own stockpile. But any hopes that I would realize Kondo’s magic by confronting the mountains of sentiment in the garage were extinguished within the first few pages of her book. In rigid terms, she describes a “tidying marathon,” an all in, months-long project that will fail if not completed. If I didn’t address my entire household inventory—closets, drawers, cabinets, everything—I would return to a state of unwanted clutter…
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