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Noel Oco

FreeLance Project Manager / Organisational Coach, Project Management

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Why would having more stuff equal less happiness?

If less stuff equals more happiness, why would having more stuff equal less happiness?

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    Jun 10 2013: The Mexican Fisherman
    Author Unknown



    The American investment banker was at the pier of a
    small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with
    just one fisherman docked.

    Inside the small boat were several large yellow fin tuna.
    The American complimented the Mexican on the quality
    of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

    The Mexican replied, "Only a little while."

    The American then asked, "Why didn't you stay out longer
    and catch more fish?"

    The Mexican said, "With this I have more than enough to support my family's needs."

    The American then asked, "But what do you do with the rest of your time?"

    The Mexican fisherman said, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life."

    The American scoffed, "I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing; and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat: With the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats. Eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the
    processor; eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then Los Angeles and eventually New York where you will run your ever-expanding enterprise."

    The Mexican fisherman asked, "But, how long will this all take?"

    To which the American replied, "15 to 20 years."

    "But what then?" asked the Mexican.

    The American laughed and said that's the best part. "When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions."

    "Millions?...Then what?"
    • Jun 10 2013: Fabulous!

      Pat, have you seen "The Zen Wisdom of Alan Watts"? Watch for the dangling bag...

      http://www.openculture.com/2013/03/the_zen_wisdom_of_alan_watts_animated_by_creators_of_south_park.html
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      Jun 10 2013: Then what?

      Wow Pat, what a wonderful illustration of materialism at it's worst.

      I remember a PBS special on a Pacific Island community a few years back.

      It started off well enough, and I thought wow, I'd love to live there!!

      Then as the program progressed, we were introduced to how western life affected the entire community of islanders. Sodas, canned food, piles and piles of garbage from all the processed foods and nowhere to deposit it but above the ground. Really sickening. And the narrator of the program explained how sick people were as a result of the change in diet, as well as a loss of traditional ways of doing things, all in the name of improvement. Bah!

      It's not enough to ruin your own kind......we have to go and reach out to others and contaminate.......it is an infectious, hedious, toxic disease that spreads and spreads.

      And who will stop it?
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      Jun 10 2013: Whoa. I feel like I just woke up and a crowd of kids just ran past me. My head is wondering what happened. Good take on complexity vs. simplicity Pat.
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    Jun 10 2013: The American said, "Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos."

    It is unique to each person. It is not one size fits all.
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      Jun 10 2013: I just noticed the ending Pat.....too too incredible.
      Thank you.
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      Jun 11 2013: .
      .
      Why the Mexican fisherman is clever?
      I think it is because his instincts of happiness work well.

      Why the American banker is foolish?
      I think it is because his instincts of happiness are misled by the new conditions absent 10,000 years ago.


      Wrong?
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    Jun 9 2013: it's like the fable about the happy poor man who is granted a wish. he wishes for gold and then ends up worrying about it being stolen/taxed/lost etc.

    mo' money, mo' problems - i think that's a movie from the '90s.

    fundamentals is fine (shelter, food, warmth, companionship) but everything on top of that is just a drag.

    to quote a brilliant band "Give it all away now"
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    Jun 10 2013: Friend

    Travel light in journey of life.

    Why carry unnecessary baggage and get tired.
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    Jun 10 2013: Between LaMar, Mary and Armstong, there is nothing left to say. They said it all.
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      Jun 10 2013: Come back and read Lizanne's and Pat's contribution.
      It isn't over 'til the fat lady sings ♫
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        Jun 10 2013: Did that. Wonderful wisdom. When some people, start making money and they see the impression it has on other people and the results on their own life, it's hard to stop.

        Living on a sail boat makes you think. You become simple in your needs and complicated about your understanding of the ocean.The important things in life become, Water, Food, tools, rope, cloth, anchors, how to cook food, how to catch rain water, how to keep it clean, updating your maps. It's a simple list.


        I have a friend. She teaches people how to fly planes. Then, she goes back home to Tenn. where she lives at a Buddhist Commune.She grows food. They make their own yogurt, have their own cows, grow some of their own food, combine their money to buy what they need, basically live a simple life. Her house, is small but it's paid for. $15,000.00.
        She has a dog and is happy, most of the time.
  • Jun 9 2013: Hi Noel,
    I have no idea if it would work for everyone, but I do know that I have coincidentally spent all day today cleaning out our attics and have accumulated about 10 garbage bags full of stuff to take to the second hand shop.

    *deep breath*
    And now, I feel FANTASTIC!
  • Jul 9 2013: If less stuff equals more happiness

    ... that's a point of view, not necessarily a fact.
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    Jul 5 2013: You cannot measure true happiness, therefor less or more in irrelevant.
    True happiness is the act of Living Authentically.
    Living Authentically is the Tao of Happiness.
    All else is speculation.
  • Jun 29 2013: Because our capacity for happiness is relatively constant while our imagined source of happiness stimuli is relatively infinite. External factors are largely irrelevant to our degree of happiness and our belief that these outside factors matter leads to constant disappointment which leads to more unhappiness.
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    Jun 14 2013: Because true happiness is not gained through anything materialistic. I feel, true happiness is having peace-of-mind, a sense of belonging to one's community and most importantly, a purpose in one's life. All of which fortunately for us, cannot be bought.
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    Jun 13 2013: well, when I buy something I take a long time, look at all the models available to me, go to different stores, ask questions. It would be hard for me to acquire a lot of stuff doing it this way, because each purchase takes time. Thus if a person has a lot of stuff, they may not have quality stuff where they spent a lot of time on each purchase.
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    Jun 11 2013: .
    My answer:

    For any person, anything has its "optimal point".
    (One of our instincts or our ancestors' successful experiences formed 10,000 years ago saved in our DNA)
    Having stuff has to be the same.

    (from Be Happy Validly! p 30)


    Wrong?
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    Jun 10 2013: Feel Maslow's need hierarchy explains the main question. Once we have more stuffs , we land into a situation where we have to strive for the next level need and with in our current socio economic model fulfillment of that need is not always certain .......
  • Jun 9 2013: It is freeing. Minimalism. Focus on the moment of life rather than possessions.

    That being said, we are garage sale enthusiasts, craft people, book collectors, and tool collectors. My house is at risk of exploding from too much stuff or just sinking into the ground.

    On the plus side, my wife's adult art classes usually are well stocked with supplies, the kids can generally find anything they need without buying it new, and I have the right tool to fix about anything with a book to tell me how to do it.

    The challenge is to remember where things were put, being able to find them once you remember without the need for an Indiana Jones level of effort, and keeping the house a comfortable living space as opposed to becoming a curator in some sort of interactive museum.
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      Jun 9 2013: Robert....your comment reminded me of the dilemna I face anytime one year has passed and we haven't had to use an item, especially things like caulking or plumbers putty and the like.

      I don't know how many times I have gone through our utility closet and reorganized things and gotten rid of things we just don't use.

      Sometimes, I find 4 and 5 opened containers of the SAME item.

      I, like you, think that a key to not consuming too much is also organization.
      Having a place for everything, and everything in it's place.

      That way, when we need to fix anything, we know where to look and don't go out and buy another item.

      I'll say one thing, I am sure glad that when I bought toys for my first child, they were mostly educational, and not gender friendly.

      I was able to use them with my second child.

      And, each year we go throough all drawers and closets and get rid of stuff we just do not need anymore....We give them away, or take them to a local charity. Sometimes we recycle....but my goal is to minimalize to the max.....It is so liberating.....the air is so clean in a decluttered home.

      Thank goodness I do not have a garage :D
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        Jun 10 2013: Cool LaMar.

        I had not thought of that.
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    Jun 9 2013: One reason might be that it does not allow our "eye to be simple".
    Perhaps a simple life is a happy life?

    The things you own can always be yours, but they can never be you.

    We are fooled into believing what merchants want us to believe....the more you buy, the happier you'll be.

    Coincidently, there is a wonderful article on "Why Do We Buy?" that I recently read.
    It might give you some insight into your question.


    http://www.jw.org/en/publications/magazines/g201306/why-do-we-buy/
  • Jun 9 2013: I want the right quantity of stuff.

    Right now I have too much. Much of what I have is useless to me, it is in my way, and some of it needs maintenance.
    It is time to get rid of stuff.

    Having too little stuff would not be good either.