How to Live a Simpler Life: Why Possessions Can Prevent Us from Happiness

by Sammy in 2 Comments — Updated January 22, 2020

christmas tree in trash

‘Twas two days after Christmas, and all through your house,

Not a piece of floor lay uncovered, not even the couch.

Wrapping paper scattered everywhere and boxes lay a strew,

You wondered if you’d ever get your house back to looking new!

You had opened your presents, you had eaten your food,

The times were a swingin’, but what was with your mood?

“Why aren’t I happier?” you asked yourself,

“What is going on with my mental health?”

Despite the goods, the gifts and the assortment of material things,

You weren’t feeling the spirit of the season & all the good cheer that it brings.

“Time to clean up!” is what your mind said,

When all your body wanted was some hot tea and a warm bed.

But you mustered the energy to gather your gifts,

Thinking how in the world you’d reorganize your closet to make them all fit!

My poem above says it all: It’s two days after Christmas, you have all this new stuff, and now WHAT? What do you do with it? Where do you fit it all? What do you trash, return and keep when your closets, cupboards and three-car garages are already bursting full with things, things and … oh yeah, those THINGS!

Sammy Davis Vintage is not a blog about “living a simple life.” It’s a blog about living a life made brighter and happier with vintage fashion & thrift store style which inspires a creative self and a positive mind.

But, after holding the same conversation with a handful of people over the holidays about how we as a society own “multiples” of everything — from a simple pair of scissors to our clothing to our electronics to yes, even our homes and cars — I’ve recognized that living a totally “vintage” life is about living a life reflective of the past and the past’s priorities, too.

And even 30 years ago, our “multiples” didn’t have so many plurals associated with them. We gave less. We received less. We bought less. We owned less. We had … more?

While presents were being handed out at my [count ’em … three!] gift exchanges from December 23rd to Christmas Day, I heard variations of the following comments that you may have even uttered out loud yourself:

“Now I own another [insert item here], it’s great to have so many choices!”

“Well, we already have one, but it doesn’t hurt to have a backup.”

“I wanted a new [insert item here]. Thanks so much, my old one just isn’t as good as this kind.”

You get my point. My family, your family, yourselves! had a very merry holiday full of many new, but many double things.

Another coffee maker. Another set of mugs. Another iPod. Another sweater, another suit jacket, another pair of earrings and another necklace … and a jewelry box to keep that jewelry — and more hangers to hang those clothes — and more of your “old things” consequently stuffed into drawers, only to be remembered when you move or reorganize. “Oh yeah! I forgot I had THAT!” you’ve probably thought upon finding a drawer full of forgotten things.

Last week, I wrote about 10 vintage traditions to reenact this  holiday. In the post, I mention the vintage tradition of only giving ONE gift — and it’s the gift that you or the recipient want more than anything. And as a result — will appreciate and use more than anything else in their possession, too. And the real beauty in the tradition of giving one gift?

Less possessions create more focus. When we have a limited number of resources to entertain us, we truly appreciate variety when it’s available. Furthermore, we become experts at whatever focused activity we choose to pursue.

The same can be said for possessions. When we own less, we focus more. By owning less, we are happier with what we have because we are able to truly love, use and learn from its positivity in our lives.

Less in the fridge = focused recipes to create meals with available foods.

Less in the closet = focused options to create inspiring outfits.

Less in your iPod = focused memorization of the words and a “favorite” song you never tire of

Less mugs in your cupboard = less use of the dishwasher, less use of water, and less “clutter” in the kitchen

Two days after Christmas, I wonder what possessions I truly need for happiness. What I, as a soon-to-be-25-year-old New Yorker, want most in my life to carry me forward and to remain a positive energy in the lives of those around me.

If I lost my cell phone, would I lose my friends?

No. The true friends would find me. The non-true ones? They aren’t calling now, anyway. I’d gain intimate relationships.

If I lost my wardrobe, would I lose my style?

No. I’d borrow from my friends and relatives, transforming their clothes to one-of-a-kind outfits on me. I’d gain creativity under pressure.

If I lost my car, would I lose my transportation?

No. I’d run. I’d bike. I’d take the bus. I’d gain appreciation of the scenery.

If I lost my new iPod, would I lose my love of music?

No. I’d listen to the radio, and other times, I’d listen to my thoughts. I’d gain a radio in my mind.

I’m blessed. You’re blessed. We, as Americans, are BLESSED.

And the best blessing of all is when you can lose something and feel that you’ve gained. When you can look at the negative of LOSS and experience it as a positive of GAIN.

Today, I look at my things. My possessions, my materials, my “self.” And I recognize that my self is not my “things.” My self is me, my self is my smile and the aura of my energy. My happiness is my mind, body and spirit.

There will always be things. Let both the gain — and loss — of our things set us free.

xx, SD

The Gifts Below the Christmas Tree …

christmas presents by tree

… That I Tore Open in 10 Seconds Each …

christmas presents

… And Which Kept Coming from December 23rd to Christmas Day …

george handing out christmas presents

… Surrounded by Sweets & Gluttonous Treats …

croissants at christmas

… I Posed for Pictures with My New Things …

sammy davis opening a christmas present

… And Even Some Duplicates, Like My Second Coffee Maker That I May Not Have “Needed” …

sammy davis posing with new coffee maker at christmas

… We Gifted, Received and Opened Until We Were Covered in the Paper of Our Things …

pile of wrapping paper

… That All Ended Up in the Overflowing Trash Anyway …

spilled city trash can

… There Will Always Be So Many Options in Life …

grocery store aisles of food

.. And More Clothes to Buy That Others Don’t Want or Need …

giant thrift store

… Men & Women Surrounded by the Things of Their Closets …

rachel zoe in her closet

… Or Trapped in Their Minds by the Burden of Their Things …

hoarder in kitchen

… Yet We Return to the Aisle of Life & Its Hundreds of Choices to Consume …

overwhelming selection of tea

… Or We Burn Off the Frustration in the Aisle of a Gym …gym equipment

…Forgetting That the Aisle of Life is Not in a Store, or a Gym, or a Closet … but the Boundless Environment of the Great Outdoors …

sammy davis running in central parking

…Not the Boundless Environment of the World Wide Web …

macbook electronics

… And When We Lose Our Things, Do We Lose Ourselves? …

broken car window

…Or Do We Buy It All Back Up Again? …

pile of credit cards

…On the Road of Life, We Choose Our Own Path …

nature on a road

… No Matter the Possessions of the Path, the Sun Will Always Set, and the Happiness Will Always Reside in YOU.

beautiful sunset over farm

2 thoughts on “How to Live a Simpler Life: Why Possessions Can Prevent Us from Happiness”

  1. I wasn’t raised this way
    What happened?

    When I was young
    One gift was amazing
    Always handmade

    From twigs or acorns or feathers

    It was treasured
    And given a special spot
    In my shared bedroom

    There were eight of us
    One bathroom, one car
    One pair of shoes for each

    A tree decorated with nature’s blessings
    No glitz, no stress to impress
    No store bought papers to waste a tree

    My gift was wrapped in mama’s apron
    Colorful and soft and bathed in love
    When she died, all I wanted was that apron

    That was all I needed
    To fill my soul and settle my needs
    I wear it every Christmas

    And long for no more
    Than my handmade gift
    Wrapped in love and memories.

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