There’s wealth in simplicity

I just finished reading Tim Ferriss’ new book, The 4-Hour Workweek. It’s a great book if a little schizophrenic. On the one hand, the strategies to eliminate distractions and focus on the activities that generate the most value are excellent. On the other, the chapter on starting an automated mail order business wasn’t for me. That said, it’s an inspirational book that deserves a read from anyone looking to redesign their lifestyle. So, I was pleasantly surprised when I came to this passage toward the end of the book:

I’m not going to tell you to walk around in a robe and sandals scowling at people who have televisions. I hate the kashi-crunching holier-than-thou stuff. Turning you into a possesion-less scribe is not my intention. Let’s face it, though: There are tons of things in you home and life that you don’t use, need, or even particularly want. They just come into your life as impulsive flotsam and jetsam and never found a good exit. Whether you’re aware of it or not, this clutter is creates indecision and distractions, consuming attention and making unfettered happiness a real chore. It is impossible to realize how distracting all the crap is–whether porcelain dolls, sports cars, or ragged T-shirts–until you get rid of it.

What’s remarkable is how well that jibes with our own philosophy here at Unclutterer. The point isn’t to be a monk or disavow consumerism. The point is to be selective about the things you do have in order to live a quality life. On of Ferriss’ great insights is that when people say they’d like to be millionaires, they don’t mean that they’d like to have a million dollars. They mean that they’d like to live like a millionaire. It’s possible to do that without the money, and in my mind the first step to luxury is paring down.

Ferris goes on to explain how simplifying helps:

I created 40% more space in my apartment and hadn’t even grazed the surface. It wasn’t the extra physical space I felt most. It was the extra mental space. It was as if I had 20 mental applications running simultaneously before, and now I just had one or two. My thinking was clearer and much, much happier.

I certainly recommend you check out the book.

Bonus: Here’s Tim Ferriss’ talk from SXSW. (MP3)

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