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60,000 Thoughts & Things! What do we really need?

Dear TEDlers

I am from Switzerland and I write a Blog (in German) about media, innovation & inspiration.

I have a very interesting topic I recently found out about - after clearing out my Dad's apartment & making some research with friends:

*** 60,000 THOUGHTS & THINGS ***

In the Western World we possess some 60,000 things. Each one of us, on average. Fascinating – 60,000 is also the number of our daily thoughts, on average!

How many of those 60,000 thoughts are positive, inspiring, helpful? Only 3 – 5% on average, let’s say some 3,000 positive thoughts.

What about the rest? Almost 1/3 of our daily thoughts is neutral or helpful to others, and almost 2/3 are more or less useless or even damaging or painful.

How many things do we need out of these 60,000? (this number sounds high, but keep in mind that - just to give you some examples - every pencil is an object, every shirt, every spoon, every booklet, card, photo, bill and so on is one thing ... it quickly adds up to pretty high numbers ...).

Maybe we only need some 3,000 things?
Still sounds like a lot - but it isn't ... This would mean clear cutbacks ...

What do you think?

Detailed information on this subject, how I found out about it and much more you find on my Blog (available only in German, I'm sorry):


I think these words by William Morris (nicely illustrated by the American artist Lisa Congdon) say it best:



We better remember this old & wise American saying:

"If you don't plant flowers in the garden of your mind, you'll forever pull weeds."

Or you have to get rid of (too much) stuff ...

Kind regards


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    Jan 17 2013: this is not a topic foreign to my brain...so I will answer and add my own personal twist. In order for you to know what is essential,camping would be the kindest way to reduce the stuff epidemic...I got to be homeless for one week...completely outside and have had the enlightenment of reductionism happen to me.,.What i now know is without stuff at least in North America...you still have stuff..For this adventure I had a guitar,clothes and a jacket...i DID NOT STARVE...I however was a bit less treated well although I simply sat doing nothing..so that was a negative..one person took me in and helped,which I will forever see as the correct proceedure...Now,never played guitar...but I still needed people and a place to wash...which was not avaiable,every thing else..is not essential...AS for how I live now(inside) I ensure for myself that at hand is always objects that support my view of the universe...not others vision...I have created multiple "alters to nature,past great moral concepts,culturals who I owe for my own current wealth and comforts(third world) symbols of my debts to those who struggled before me...I choose these as essential because of the onslaught of media telling what to think...so my home is a harbour clearly prioritizing the things that speak of my chosen thoughts...without these things,i would rarely see confirmation of their importance,,,And I fear I could be erased

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