Ever heard of the terms “hedonic adaptation” or “hedonic treadmill”?
Both of these refer to the fact that in order to maintain the surge of pleasure that comes with every new gadget and thingamajig we purchase, we have to keep buying new things. Of the two phrases, I prefer the latter because it vividly captures the idea that we have to keep running farther and faster in order to achieve the same amount of happiness.
But what would happen if we were to step off the treadmill? That’s what several people in the small house movement have done, building tiny homes so they can live more simply and cheaply. Such homes cost less to heat, cool, and repair and are much quicker to clean. One woman who lives in the tiniest of houses heats her home with solar panels and a propane tank, the kind the rest of us use to power our gas grills, making her heating bills about $5 per month. Her “refrigerator” is a small cooler. By having a small carbon footprint, small-house folks hope to have a big impact on the world around them, spending their time and money on causes, people, and experiences they care about. What a terrific counterpoise to the bloated houses many people have been building in suburbs across the country.
Though I have no desire to call a closet home, the idea of downsizing appeals to me because I’ve learned the hard way that owning lots of stuff usually works against my sense of peace and happiness.
You needn’t move into a tiny house to achieve the goal of living simply. Just decide that you want the benefits simplicity can bring and start making decisions with your goal in mind.