What to Read on the Subway This Week: 9/2
This Monday’s column is all about stuff! Feel overwhelmed by your stuff? Or are you looking for a more environmentally responsible relationship to the things in your life?
I’ve been thinking more and more about my belongings and my spending habits, and it seems as though many of us are wrestling with similar questions. These books, podcasts, and articles will reveal intriguing new ideas and attitudes about stuff in our culture.
On Your Kindle
The 100 Thing Challenge, by Dave Bruno
The 100 Thing Challenge is an intriguing, accessible take on simple living. Dave Bruno, a successful, married father of three, wakes up one day and realizes he is being suffocated by his stuff—including lots of items he barely uses. So, he decides to limit himself (but not his wife and daughters) to 100 personal possessions. Donating and selling many of his unused hobby items, he begins thinking about why he’s emotionally attracted to these collections in the first place. A must-read for those of us who have things we can’t seem to get rid of.
(For more, check out my recent review of Bruno’s book for the "Where Is My Guru" radio show.)
On Your Smartphone
“But Will It Make You Happy?” by Stephanie Ro
This New York Times article describes the largely online movement to encourage simpler, less expensive lifestyles in tough economic times. Could spending less mean you’re happier? According to Rosenblum, “the practices that consumers have adopted in response to the economic crisis ultimately could—as a raft of new research suggests—make them happier. New studies of consumption and happiness show, for instance, that people are happier when they spend money on experiences instead of material objects, when they relish what they plan to buy long before they buy it, and when they stop trying to outdo the Joneses.”
On a Podcast
The Good Stuff Podcast, Annie Leonard, Episode 5: “How You Show Up in the World”
Annie Leonard, the filmmaker behind The Story of Stuff, hosts this podcast series about promoting environmental and commercial change to create a better world. In this episode about “rebuilding our flabby citizenship muscles” for effective change and consumer action, Leonard interviews progressive leaders, including activist Ralph Nader, about doing good.
You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap), by Tammy Strobel
Strobel, the blogger behind RowdyKittens, documents her journey from overstressed and in-debt office worker to a smaller, happier life. With her husband, Logan, she begins the journey of radically downsizing and shifting their goals, so that they can spend more time together and work less. As Strobel says, “I had been living a ‘normal’ life and I wasn’t happy. Logan and I were thirty thousand dollars in debt, living paycheck to paycheck, and felt stuck in a rut. Something had to change, especially if we wanted to make our dreams a reality.”