Why do we need a house of possessions to be happy? We don’t. My argument against this assumption is it is not the possessing which brings us the most happiness, but the acquiring. Happiness is easily brought by the novel, the new. In our predominantly consumeristic culture, one of the easiest sources of novelty is in ownership. There is always someone to offer you something you have never had before.
However easy it may be to consume for our benefit, consumption is not a sustainable source of either novelty or happiness. Instead, consider alternative sources of novelty which have been steadily dropping to the wayside in the wake of newer availabilities.
Instead of spending extra days of your life earning money to purchase temporary happiness, forgo both of the above and spend those days on a different kind of novelty; seeing places you haven’t seen. This doesn’t have to be as large-scale as a week-long vacation; it could be an afternoon exploring a park in your own town you haven’t been to before. Perhaps a different route to and/or from work or errands can show you new views. In a larger version, next time you’re up for a raise at work, counter offer with part (or all) of the raise be in increased paid vacation time. Obtain happiness with your experiences of the world we live in instead of things from a store.
Spend time with friends, develop the connection you have with other people. Instead of watching a movie together, do something more interactive; go to a park, play a sport (frisbee or laser tag count, it doesn’t have to be anything super formal), play a board or card game as a group.
Have a night in on your own? Work on a skill you’ve always appreciated in others. Find a podcast to pick up a few beginner phrases in a new language. Always been impressed by the sharks in pool halls? Spend some free hours working on your angles, then perhaps some trick shots of your own. Every skill you may want takes time and patience. With enough of both, most of us are capable of picking up any skill we want (some do take both these attributes in spades, of course).
The above are only three ideas for what we could fill our lives with instead of shopping for, working to pay for, maintaining, repairing, and/or replacing extraneous possessions we bought initially to cheer ourselves up. All of us have differing areas we would want to focus in on were we able to. What is yours, what do you wish you could spend an extra few hours a week on? Take time away from excess ownership to do exactly that.