Archive for April, 2013

Letting Go of Stuff. It Feels Good. Eventually.

Time to move again. Time to get rid of stuff . Yuck. Why is it hard to face the junk drawer? I’m a low clutter person. I can fit all my stuff into one small room and dance a jig in it. But each time I move, I manage to fill a bag and head to Goodwill. Where did I get this stuff, and why is this process so uncomfortable? Spring cleaning sounds sweet, but feels subtly stifling.

Some psychologists say that we have an irrational conviction that our stuff has a potential future value, which we’re somehow losing. I suppose some of my stuff might have a value, but I don’t really need a Marilyn Monroe costume and a platinum blond wig, and I probably don’t need the Chiquita banana hat either.

Apparently, super hoarders feel empathy with everything around them; they believe stuff has feelings that can be hurt. But I have another theory; maybe, we’re simply misplacing our love of this world, with the love of stuff, which doesn’t translate well. Surrounding yourself with innocuous gadgets does more harm than good. Even a messy desk can make you feel disorganized, anxious and even helpless. (Hear what George Carlin has to say about stuff.)

And what happens when you get rid of the excess? I couldn’t find a legitimate scientific study that articudeclutterlated the joy of de-cluttering, but there are eight separate studies, which show that experience-related buys lead to more happiness, as opposed to buying stuff. Why? Experiences grow larger in the brain over time. We savor them. We remember our best moments and relive them again and again. Less stuff = a more enriching life (more or actually less).

I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.—Joseph Campbell


Read Full Post »

Question-Mark-4Dr. Adam Grant, 31, is the youngest-tenured and highest-rated professor at Wharton Business School. According to a fascinating New York Times article, “He is also one of the most prolific academics in his field, organizational psychology.” He’s a helper and he advises that you help others too. He goes out of his way to aid people all day, which sounds great. I agree with the general idea. But when I read that he gives life advice easily and often to students, I immediately began to be wary of his touted wisdom. College is a confusing time; it’s tough to know who you are and where you’re headed.

After my first quarter, I distinctly remember sitting down with my father. I said, “Dad, I don’t know what to do with myself. What do you think I should do?”

My father is cantankerous and highly-opinionated. I’m sure he would’ve loved it if I studied science or mathematics, like him. But instead of offering a pat answer, he paused for several minutes and then quietly said, “You have to figure that out on your own, dear. I can’t answer that for you.”

And you know what? I didn’t like his response—at allbut I understood the essential truth of it.

The fact that Dr. Grant provides quick answers to tough questions makes students happy. He often receives 40 thank-you letters a week. But that does not bode well for quality of his advice. Yes, it is generous. But consider that Grant admits that he must have something scheduled at all times, or he will think of death, which he deeply fears. It makes him anxious. That should be a warning to him and to students that his own motivations have gone un-examined.

luther kingOur best advisors don’t provide answers. They ask the right questions.

Consider an essay published the next day. Dr. William Hood had a profound conversation with Martin Luther King Jr. who simply asked him, what he thought art could accomplish that other forms of communication could not. King died soon after, but the question lived on in the mind of the young Hood, and it ended up changing the primary force of his career.

Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.—Martin Luther King, Jr.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: