Your household stuff might be out to get your happiness

Published: Wednesday, March 13 2013 1:04 p.m. MDT

A UCLA study found that a mother's stress was the highest when dealing with possessions throughout the day. Americans now have so much stuff that houses often don't fit it all.

Annie V. Schwemmer

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­­­In the 1990s, Graham Hill could be foun­­d in a giant house with the latest electronics, cars and appliances. Today his 420-square-foot studio apartment is populated with six dress shirts, 10 bowls for food and no CDs or DVDs.

He considers his life today, “a bigger, better, richer life with less,” according to a New York Times article.

Hill’s motto is that you can live with a lot less and be happier. He discovered this after he sold an Internet start-up, became financially independent and bought everything he wanted. But eventually his stuff didn’t make him happy any more.

A UCLA study showed that mothers’ stress levels increase when they have to deal with all the stuff in their homes. Based on observations of 32 middle-class families, a mother’s hormones spike during the time she spent cleaning and tidying up belongings.

“Intuitively, we know that the best stuff in life isn’t stuff at all, and that relationships, experiences and meaningful work are the staples of a happy life,” Hill said.

Americans have so much stuff that 75 percent can’t park their cars in their garages because they have so many things stored there. Americans' penchant for accumulating things supports a $22 billion personal storage industry.

Hill said his life became fuller and happier when he ended up moving into a small apartment and he eliminated most of his stuff.

“I like material things as much as anyone,” Hill wrote in the article. “I studied product design in school. I’m into gadgets, clothing and all kinds of things. But my experiences show that after a certain point, material objects have a tendency to crowd out the emotional needs they are meant to support.”

EMAIL: alovell@deseretnews.com

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