Wednesday, December 19, 2012

You Can Buy Happiness (and Its Cheap)

You Can Buy Happiness (and It's Cheap) :
How One Woman Radically Simplified Her Life and How You Can Too
By Tammy Strobel

Tammy Strobel began a journey of self-discovery to see what really made her happy. She let go of quite a bit, including a lucrative job and many possessions. What she discovered along the way was that radically simplifying what she owned made room for more happiness. Strobel wrote about her discoveries in her blog, Rowdy Kittens.

Strobel's journey led her to radically downsize her possessions and live in a tiny (smaller than a parking place) house with her husband and two cats. I found her final solution to be a bit more than I could reasonably swallow for myself. But even Strobel says that her solutions are not for everyone. She does try to get the reader to re-think about not only their possession but also their forms of transportation, their jobs, their debt and how they spend their time. What I enjoyed about her book was watching her narrative and her baby steps of the whole process.

I was bothered by the fact that she and her husband took out a loan from her parents in order to pay for the house, although Strobel claims she is debt free otherwise. I also questioned if she was seriously living in this tiny house: they don't shower there, they rent a backyard for the water and power supply and actually use the homeowner's washing machine for their clothes. I wondered if they were serious about living their permanently or if this was a long-term camping experiment. I will probably keep checking on Strobel's blog to see how she fares. Will she find happiness for the long term?

What did this book have to do with my faith? I have been asking myself this question: what would really make me happy? My answers vary but very few times do I mention stuff. In fact, right now about three days of personal pampering (someone to cook my meals, clean up and simply serve me) would really make me happy. But the question is not just a silly or esoteric one. Jesus himself lived a very simple life. He had little, if any possessions. According to the bible, it was simply his one-piece tunic that was in any way valuable.  As his follower, what I am I supposed to possess? The disciples were sent out with simply their clothes and their staff in order to share the gospel. Does 2000 years give me permission to take along a U-haul trailer and put everything else in storage? Or does Jesus really want us to let go of our stuff? Should we sell it all to the poor? We Americans simply have too much stuff and it all tends to get in the way with our relationship with Jesus and with one another. Strobel made me think again about my things and whether they make me happy.

I recommend this book for those thinking of downsizing in the New Year!

Happy reading!


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