UPDATED: The ultimate guide to less stuff, more experiences, and a happier life

UPDATED: The ultimate guide to less stuff, more experiences, and a happier life

Thank you everyone who sent me feedback on the online course I’m working on for The Idler.

I received lots of messages — mostly of support! — but also making suggestions…

So I’m now getting closer to the course title: “Stuff Stuffocation! The ultimate guide to less stuff, more experiences, and a happier life”.

The course is going to look like this:

  1. The ultimate guide
    • Your role here: listen
    • Introduction to me, your host
    • Outline of what you can expect from the course:
      • you’ll learn practical tips to get rid of stuff, have more experiences and get more out of life
      • you’ll hear fascinating interesting facts — about the world, and about you!
      • While the insights are backed by science, this isn’t academic. You’ll have fun along the way :-)
    • Why it’s better with a friend
      • you’re more likely to learn and make and see the changes you want
      • it’s more fun
    • Homework: find a friend to do the course with you

  2. Meet the Joneses
    • Your role here: listen + homework
    • Additional material: a document to download / link to a page containing useful pen portrait questions
    • Community: share your pen portraits! #TheJoneses
    • In which, you’ll:
      • Discover something strange about other people — and yourself
    • Homework:
      • A warm-up activity where you’ll draw “pen portait” pictures of your pesky neighbours, those materialistic Joneses next door
      • Then, we’ll draw pen portraits of a group of people called “experientialists”
  3. Facebook changed how we shake our tail feathers
    1. Your role here: listen
    2. This features lions, howler monkeys, birds of paradise, and humans
    3. Homework: observe and make a note of 3 people shaking their tail feathers

  4. Have you had enough of stuff?
    1. Your role here: answer 15 quiz questions
    2. Additional material: a document containing/a link to the quiz (with the questions in the quiz: Have you had enough of stuff?)
    3. Community: share your scores! 

  5. The story of Stuffocation I: The Mystery of the Krispy Kremes
    • Your role here: listen + homework
    • In which you’ll:
      • meet the Sherlock Holmes of food
      • discover evolutionary psychology
      • find out why it’s so hard to say no when someone offers you a doughnut
    • Homework: see how the third slice tastes :-)

  6. The story of Stuffocation II: The Original Mad Men
    • Your role here: listen + homework
    • In which you’ll:
      • meet the original Mad Men — and women
      • find out how consumerism came about
      • learn why we all buy more than we need to
      • discover why consumerism was the best idea of the 20th century
    • Homework: talk about this counter-intuitive idea with friends, to see what they think

  7. The story of Stuffocation III: What Made Me Care
    1. Your role here: listen
    2. This story begins on 22 January 1940, on a cold, snowy night in north London. It almost ends on 22 January 2002. The story comes right up to the present day.

  8. The Secret Hoarder in You
    • Your role here: listen + homework
    • Community: everyone is encouraged to share their “stuffies”
    • In which you’ll:
      • Discover why so many people watch hoarding shows on TV…
      • … and why there’s a secret hoarder inside every one of us
      • Learn that I’m not anti-stuff — just anti-too much stuff and the wrong stuff
    • Homework:
      • Think about the things you have that matter to you
      • Find some of that stuff & take a “stuffie” — a “stuff selfie”
      • Share your #stuffie with the community

  9. Why It’s So Hard to Get Rid of Stuff
    • Your role here: listen
    • In which you’ll:
    • Learn why psychologists think we find it so hard to get rid of things
      We realised this wasn’t working. It would have repeated the previous section.
      But! we also realised there wasn’t anything about why stuff is actually BAD for you. So, we decided to add in:
      The Dark Side of Materialism
    • Your role here: listen
    • In which you’ll:
      • Learn the 2 key reasons why materialism is so bad

  10. The Joy of Sox
    • Your role here: listen + homework
    • Community: share snaps of your socks with the community
    • In which you’ll:
      • Discover the surprising truths you can find in your sock drawer
        • … especially about your relationship with stuff
    • Homework: take and share your #joyofsox snaps

  11. How to De-stuffocate
    • Your role here: listen + homework
    • Additional material: Stuff Stuffocation, I’m De-stuffocating form
    • Community: share any tips you have
    • In which you’ll:
      • Share how you manage your clutter at present
        • especially if it’s original and it works
      • Find out why I like (but don’t love) Marie Kondo’s method
      • Why I prefer some of these ways of clearing out:
        1. Big Bad Bag & Box method
        2. Start Small Bag & Box method
        3. A month of minimalism
        4. The Way of the 3 Buckets
        5. The “Did you miss it?” Game
        6. The Hanger Trick
        7. Divide and Conquer Your Stuff
    • Homework: try at least 3 of these, and report back on the Stuff Stuffocation, I’m De-stuffocating form

  12. How to Cope with the Stickiest of All Stuff Problems
    • Your role here: listen + homework
    • Additional material: Sentimental Stuff Doesn’t Have a Hold Over Me form
    • In which you’ll:
      1. Find out that sentimental stuff is the #1 problem for most people
      2. Hear how some people have solved this problem
    • Homework: try out 3 ways to resolve sentimenal stuff issues, and report back on the Sentimental Stuff Doesn’t Have a Hold Over Me form.

  13. The Way of the Experientialist
    • Your role here: listen
    • In which you’ll:
      • Find out that there are 3 steps to experientialism
      • Learn that getting rid of stuff is really just step one
      • Discover what steps 2 and 3 are.

  14. How to Shop Your Way to Happiness
    • Your role: listen + homework
    • Additional material: I Know How to Shop My Way to Happiness form
    • In which you’ll:
      1. Learn the 6 new rules of shopping, including:
        1. why you should never buy anything you like
        2. why you have to be a bouncer
        3. and why the first place to shop is at home
    • Homework: make a note each time you use the 6 new rules of shopping on the I Know How to Shop My Way to Happiness form

  15. Could You Be an Experientialist?
    • Your role: homework + share
    • Additional material: quiz
    • Take the 20-question quiz (questions are here)
    • Community: share your answers with #expquiz

  16. The 7 Reasons Science Says You Should Spend on Experiences
    • Your role here: listen + homework
    • Additional material: What Happened When I Experimented With Experiences form
    • In which you’ll:
      • Hear about the pioneering psychologists who have proved that experiences are more likely to lead to happiness than material goods
      • Discover the 7 key reasons why
      • Put the scientific theories to the test!
    • Homework: do at least 3 of these tasks:
      1. At some point in the next 48 hours, instead of talking about what you do, talk about your material goods — and notice the reaction of the person you’re talking to
      2. Book an experience far in the future
      3. Watch Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
      4. Think of 3 of your most treasured material possessions. Think of 3 of your most treasured experience memories. Pick at least 3 adjectives to describe each of them. Note them down. Now, get a large piece of paper, draw a stick/cartoon version of you in the middle, draw a circle round it. Now, write down those material possessions and those experiences in bubbles. Where are they? Do you notice anything?
      5. Write a list of significant experiential and material purchases you’ve made. Write a short story about who you are and how you became the person you are today. You should include at least one thing from the lists you’ve written in your stories. 
      6. Fill out your thoughts/experiences in the What Happened When I Experimented With Experiences form

  17. Hot or Not: How to Have Out-of-This-World Experiences
    • Your role here: listen + task
    • Additional material: Out-of-This-World Experience form 
    • In which you’ll:
      1. Learn about MARS — the simple acronym that reminds us what makes us happy
      2. Hear about “From MARS” — the new, evidence-backed, 5-star experience rating system
    • Task: using the Out-of-This-World Experience form, rate some recent experiences you had, to find out if they’re “hot or not”

  18. Your Experience Review
    • Your role here: listen + task
    • Additional material: Experience Review form
    • In which you’ll:
      • Apply the learnings you have from the Out-of-This-World Experience sheet
      • Get a clear view of how much (money, time, energy) you’re spending on things v experiences
      • Ask yourself: are you spending enough on experiences?
    • Homework:
      • Calculate a monthly audit of your spending on stuff/experiences
      • Think about the experiences you had in the last month, and fill those in on the Experience Review sheet (additional material)

  19. The Experience Game
    • Your role here: listen + play
    • Additional material: Experience Game form
    • In which you’ll:
      • Get ready to play the Experience Game
    • Homework:
      • For inspiration, watch the movie Brewster’s Millions (or read the original book from 1902)
      • Play the Experience Game for a month
      • Fill in the Experience Game sheet
    • Community: share how you’re getting on with tags #expgame and Facebook.com/Stuffocation, and post your Experience Game form at the end of the month

  20. Viva the revolution!
    • Your role here: listen + homework
    • Additional material: Viva the Experience Revolution form
    • A final talk, in which you’ll discover:
      • Why this isn’t only about you
      • Why you have to share this
      • What you can do to help make the Experience Revolution happen
    • Homework: document & share your efforts to make the Experience Revolution happen on the Viva the Experience Revolution form

 

If you have any thoughts or comments, please comment here, or contact me as soon as possible at james@stuffocation.org

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