Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What makes you happy?

I saw today an article in the NY Times which was forwarded to me by my friend Corina which I thought was perfect for the times that we live in.

She had so much.

A two-bedroom apartment. Two cars. Enough wedding china to serve two dozen people.

Yet Tammy Strobel wasn't happy. Working as a project manager with an investment management firm in Davis, Calif., and making about $40,000 a year, she was, as she put it, caught in the "work-spend treadmill."

So one day she stepped off.

Inspired by books and blog entries about living simply, Ms. Strobel and her husband, Logan Smith, both 31, began donating some of their belongings to charity. As the months passed, out went stacks of sweaters, shoes, books, pots and pans, even the television after a trial separation during which it was relegated to a closet. Eventually, they got rid of their cars, too


If you read the article you will see other stories of people who had a gong hit them that said, "DONG! I don't have to live this way anymore. By cutting back and living less I have more life.

If there was ever a calling card for Pluto's journey through Capricorn it would be this article and the like. For a few years I have had the Story of Stuff as a signature to my emails. If you haven't watched it, I highly recommend it and I think you will also feel the pull of Pluto.


The under riding feeling that we are being played every time we are compelled to purchase something has been haunting me for awhile. Once I saw Story of Stuff (right around Pluto's initial move into Cap) I knew---"Oh, that's what I've been feeling!"

Last week it was announced that the GNP went down a couple of percentage points which perhaps reflects this austere period we are experiencing. I am sure economic forecasters would suggest people are buying less because they have less money. Sure, maybe. But I would also venture a guess that even if people did find themselves will fuller coffers they would not be as inclined to race out and buy more stuff. Kind of like after Major League Baseball strike a few years ago. Fans went away and then when the strike was over not as many fans returned. Not out of spite but more from a place of "Wow, I survived without baseball perfectly fine, I don't need it as much as I used to need it." And with that their numbers were lower.

I gotta wonder if the cardinal squares and crosses that we are experiencing now and with Pluto being the center of it all, if this summer will turn out to be the summer of "Less than" and happy for it.


  1. I certainly wish more Americans would give up brainless consuming. I often think of how our country is sinking now that so many of us have filled our homes with cheap crap made in China or elsewhere, and I think it's karma, a result of not caring / not being conscious, those things are steeped in the suffering of sweatshop / factory workers and of course it's going to affect the energy of your home and life. Americans are way too insular and the world is now too small to retain this attitude.

  2. Yes. This is why I love the Story of Stuff. If you have not seen it, google it and watch it. It speaks of the push in america for consumption. It was a deliberate move to keep the country moving. Problem is that it does not work now. Either because people are more conscientious of their purchase and what it means in the long run. And on the micro, there is not as much disposable income now so less to buy which is probably shifting people's thinking. That is one perk! Like the saying goes, "If you don't make the changes, the Universe will".

  3. Yup - it isn't going to work anymore. They thought / hoped they could shift from offering both quality and cheapie stuff to offering only cheapie stuff, at a higher price. Remember the phrase 'you get what you pay for'? Well, manufacturers stopped caring and broke that motto. See what happens when you try to make them accountable for something that broke before it's time should be up? They put a wall of dense yet obedient cs reps in between you and them, and that denseness will be so frustrating and infuriating (and I sense they know this?) that you'll give up and buy a replacement. To plan these things there must be a very cynical air in corporations.

    The solution is to buy fewer things that aren't bare necessities until they return to an attitude of serving me instead of themselves. I'll probably never go back to buying the kind of stuff I used to buy.

    I see the capitalism corrosion everywhere and not just in right wing pro-business quarters. For example I question why we only let in 3rd world immigrants, people who tend towards being humble, grateful, obedient consumers, folks infatuated with the "American Dream" they've seen on tv, who crave the conspicuous consumption lifestyle? That's a change because at one time we let in 1st world immigrants too -like my neighbor who's an 83 yr old from Liverpool.

    Anyways it all needs to be flushed...obviously...but apparently it needs to be made very very obvious before we the people get riled enough to make it happen.

  4. Woah - long!

    Maybe Merc is still close enough to my Pluto to make that happen.