A recent Oprah episode included an interview with multimillionaire director Tom Shadyac, who decided to simplify his life by letting go of his mansion and many of his belongings. His former home had 17 bedrooms (although he wasn’t quite sure how many!) and 13 bathrooms. He downsized to a mobile home with three bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, and has never been happier. It was fascinating to hear him describe how freeing it was to let go of so many material things as he felt the weight of his former lifestyle lift off his shoulders.

I can certainly relate to his sense that the traditional measures of success – possessions and busy lifestyles – weigh us down. After all, I spend my days helping people pare down their belongings and simplify their schedules. I see first-hand how much time and energy people devote to shopping and caring for things, as well as working to pay for them, but they aren’t necessarily happier for owning them. I see their jam-packed schedules, filled with activities for themselves and their kids, although often just sitting quietly at home reading a book or enjoying their family would make them happier.

I know it’s not easy or realistic for most people to simplify their life to the extent Mr. Shadyac did, but I do know there are plenty of people who would like their life to be a bit less complicated. Years ago I read the book Your Money or Your Life, which presented the concept of viewing expenditures in terms of how much of one’s life energy would have to be expended to cover each expense. For example, how many hours would I have to work to earn enough money, after taxes, to buy a new pair of shoes? Before making the purchase, I’d be wise to determine if I was willing to work x number of hours to afford them.

Although I’ve never been one to strive for owning a lot of possessions, when I do shop for things other than groceries, I often ask myself if they’re worth the amount of life energy I’d have to expend to obtain them. I use this technique when contemplating expenditures on entertainment as well – is it worth it to me to work x number of hours to be able to attend a particular concert, play, sporting event, etc. I’ve certainly made some purchases that I’ve regretted, but overall I can say that my conscious consumption has made my life simpler and happier.

I’d love to hear if you’ve tried simplifying your life – how successful have you been? Are you happier than you otherwise would have been?

Wishing you simplicity, harmony and freedom.

Author's Bio: 

Internationally known professional organizer, author, and speaker Sue Becker is the founder and owner of From Piles to Smiles®. She enjoys helping people from around the world live better lives by creating customized systems to overcome their overwhelming paperwork, clutter, and schedules. She specializes in helping people who are chronically disorganized - those for whom disorganization has been a lifelong struggle that negatively impacts every aspect of their life, especially people with AD/HD. Her hands-on help, as well as her presentations, have helped thousands of individuals create substantial change in their lives.

Sue is Illinois’ first Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization. She co-authored the book Conversations on Success, and has appeared as an organizational expert on NBC News and the national TV show, Starting Over. A CPA, Sue has an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management.