“Own nothing…Experience Everything” vs “Own everything…experience nothing” and how can reducing the amount of “Stuff” you own lead to a happier existence.

These days it seems that we live in a culture of owning a lot of “things”, but then having very little time or money left to “experience” anything. Holidays can be a rushed two week mission to cram as many things in on as tight a budget as possible, the 9 to 5 slog can become the focus of our lives and leaves very little time for anything else, and money leaks from every single avenue; a car repair here and there, replaced microwave, increased council tax, renew the insurances. Why do we have this “Own everything…experience nothing” culture and what is the alternative?

Lets look at the alternative

I would like to suggest an alternative, in fact, I would like to turn the “Own everything…experience nothing” notion on its head. I would like to put before the jury a more “Own nothing…experience everything” philosophy.

Now, I appreciate that this extreme approach is obviously not a viable option for most. However, let us consider the facts and see if using an element of this philosophy would help improve ones lifestyle.

The “Own everything…experience nothing” philosophy vs the “Own nothing…experience everything”

“Own everything…experience nothing”

What are the advantages of the “OEEN” approach?

Well I guess  there is a level of security with owning a lot of things and you get a one up on the Joneses for sure. It some respects it is nice to see your “net worth” or how successful you are currently.

It’s nice to own good things,

and live in a good area and be able to have new things on a regular basis. I think we can all agree on these things.

So what are the disadvantages of the “OEEN” approach?

Everything you own requires upkeep.

Homes need constant repairs and updates as do cars, electronics, gadgets and gardens and this takes a lot of time and money. Everything also needs to be insured and protected, which also costs. Keeping up with the Jonses, by the very nature that they are also keeping up with you, will always be a drain on time and resources. Loans, mortgages and debts that were used to acquire these goods cause their own sorts of problem and bring with them additional stress. All this upkeep requires a job to provide income to match this outlay, which requires more and more of your time as the costs rise, so your free time is drastically reduced, and the time you have free quite frequently needs to be spent on the upkeep of the stuff you own. Peoples net “stuff” quite frequently out paces their earning power resulting in little or no money left for “experience” at the end of the month.

So now we move onto

“Own nothing…experience everything” philosophy.

Again I appreciated that this is not a viable option for most and there are a lot more things to consider when children and schooling is involved but it is something to think about.

Advantages of the “ONEE” approach

If you own little or nothing, you have little or nothing to upkeep. If you rent everything the upkeep and depreciation is handled by someone else; true. it can be slightly more expensive in the short term, but you have flexibility, and really, how often have you used that hedge trimmer or chain saw that’s still sitting with cobwebs in the cellar? Owning little means you have little to update and so costs are substantially reduced, insurances are less as are repairs and upkeep. Less clutter leads to a generally less stressful existence safe in the knowledge that the things you own are being used, and a substantial amount of you income is not tied up in dead material.

This reduction in stuff, and thus expenses of time and money in upkeep, allows more freedom and more cash for you to spend on experiencing life.

Less stuff = less stress, more time and more money.

At the end of the day, you can get your hands on and rent almost anything within 24hours should you need it.

Disadvantages of the “ONEE” approach

Some would argue the ONEE approach is risky and I would agree wholeheartedly, not for everyone in the extreme sense. Not owning anything leaves you at risk of real problems should your cash dry up and yes, you don’t want to be living out of a box, no matter how much better your box is than the Joneses.

There is a level of security in owning stuff that this approach doesn’t allow which can lead to stress.

A Conclusion to ponder

Life is too short to hoard as much as possible, especially if you gain very little happiness from it. Surely it is better to have less stuff and more time and freedom to experience life and the endless opportunities that are out there. It is common knowledge that buying new things brings with it a sense of bliss, but this bliss is short lived and you quickly have to move onto the next purchase to get the next high.

Surely better to invest in experiences where the memories will last a lifetime and increase in happiness value,  rather than devalue in monetary terms and cause stress?

I don’t advocate the extreme version of the “ONEE” approach as suitable for most but maybe take an aspect of it and apply it to your current situation. Reduce the amount you own and need to upkeep so that you can increase your time and increase your cashflow and thus afford to experience more.

Do you really need that second or third car, or would the money needed to upkeep it every year be better spent on two weeks backpacking in France.

Tags: Happiness Project



  • October 20, 2009 Reply


    There is no security in owning things really. Because, if you miss paying taxes on the land. That house you paid a million for is gone. You will sell everything down to your socks to eat a morsel of food and those cars you put up for collateral to stay afloat now belong to the bank.

    Security only exists in the mind. If you create a good income for yourself and it fails, then you can create another. But a job can be taken from you at anytime and you don’t create another job, but would have to FIND one.

    • October 22, 2009 Reply


      Spoken well. It is amazing how many people think that having a job is taking the safe route. For me it is the riskiest by far. Thanks for the comment.

  • May 16, 2010 Reply

    Rob L.

    I just found your blog recently and have really been enjoying everything that you have to offer. I plan to start eliminating all of the excess in my life very soon.
    Minimalism here I come.

    Ps- you should have a tweet icon to make it easier for people to spread the word.

    • May 16, 2010 Reply


      Hi Rob,

      Thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment. Good luck in following the minimalism approach, I am sure it will change your life.

      Thanks for the heads up on the tweet icon, I used to have one but I think I messed up some of the coding when I changed the site, will see to it and get it back.

  • April 11, 2010 Reply


    The template is pork and beans but I have been changing the cose alot.

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