When Alison Minami left for college, she practically dug herself out of her parents’ house. They had so much stuff it was almost impossible to walk through the home. Her parents were hoarders. Every surface was covered with junk. There was a car in the driveway that didn’t run. Shelves were full of garbage. Her parents refused to throw anything away. Yet they accumulated more and more.
Hoarding is more than just being messy. Hoarding is having a compulsive need for more, and an inability to throw even the silliest of things away. One hoarder made the news for having more than 5,000 rubber duckies. Another hoarder kept more than 8,000 stickers taken off of banana peels because she didn’t want to get rid of the “tiny art.”
As for Alison, the daughter of hoarders, she finally escaped the cluttered prison of her parents’ home when she left for college. Often, when kids of hoarders leave home, they become obsessed with cleanliness and minimalism. Jessie Sholl whose mother was a hoarder, says she gets excited to throw things out. She’s even thrown away her college diploma. The less stuff she has, the better she feels.
These days, it’s not just kids of hoarders who are feeling the pull towards minimalism. There’s a whole movement happening. People are realizing that more stuff does not equal more happiness.
Studies show if you want to be truly happy, instead of buying more things, you should spend your money on experiences.
Experiences make us happy because they become part of our identity. Imagine that you live in a beautiful house, but your real passion is painting, or hiking, or traveling. You wouldn’t say, I am a beautiful home-owner. If you had to describe yourself, you’d probably say that you’re an artist or a hiker or a painter.
And most importantly, experiences bring us closer to each other. Going to a concert, taking an art class, or learning to speak another language are experiences that don’t fill up our houses with stuff, but they give us something much more valuable. They give us the opportunity to connect with one another. Not only do we share the experience, but we create shared memories with the people we care about.
The next time you’re about to make an expensive purchase, think about what kind of experience it will give you. Is it an experience that will allow you to live more fully and connect more deeply with others or is it just another pretty object to hoard in your house?