For many, success is defined as achieving more and bigger. Better job, bigger home, new car, more expensive clothes – you get the picture. This endless pursuit of the ‘perfect’ lifestyle is what gets many people out of bed each morning. But now, it seems, the secret to success actually lies with doing less and being less ambitious. That’s according to Danish psychology Professor Svend Brinkmann, author of The Joy of Missing Out – the Art of Self-Restraint in an Age of Excess.
He explains that to be truly happy we need to forget about the to-do list and be generally less ambitious about life. If we worry about what we don’t have it’s impossible to be content. Apparently a fear of missing out (FOMO) can apply to events as well as status and stuff, and this realisation is the key to understanding depression and anxiety in the UK.
The healthy approach, he tells us, is to adopt the attitude you’re nothing special, you’re no better than anyone else. And your expectations shouldn’t be too great. He explains that this defensive pessimism acts as a healthy check on ego and personal ambition – meaning you’re not forever fretting about missed opportunities.
To live a happy life we need to take pleasure in routine rather than mentally exhausting ourselves by always chasing new experiences, and lead a life of simplicity and focus. Being with loved ones and having a meaningful job are enough. The more choice you give people, the more miserable they become. He explains: there’s nothing wrong with having wealth or beautiful objects – they can become part of a happy life, but your life is not happy because they are there. Your life is happy because you live in a certain way – a simple way.
Futon Company says: This approach to happiness is very much aligned to our own view of the world. While we like to surround ourselves with lovely things to create a comfortably practical home, we also believe that big isn’t always better. It might be a cliché but it’s not the size of your space that matters but how you organise it to create a home that is a haven for you and the other people in your life.