Always Well Within

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Finding Freedom & Happiness in Simplicity

Do you ever long to escape all the complexity of life?  If you’re like me, simplicity sounds appealing at times, but it can also feel impossible to achieve or overwhelming to begin the process.

Lucky for us, Tammy Strobel, creator of the Rowdy Kittens blog, has produced the perfect user-friendly blueprint for simplifying your life.

You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap), How One Woman Radically Simplified Her Life and How You Can Too explains the logic and freedom of simplicity and shows you doable step-by-step actions that will help you get a handle on all that is “too much” in your life.  Replete with engaging stories, honest, and intelligent, this simplicity guide is easy to embrace.

Don’t worry about that word “radical” in the title.  As Strobel assures us, there are many different versions of simplicity and the key is find your own level of simple comfort.

Materialism and Its Link to Depression and Low Satisfaction

Strobel bought into the “American Dream” at a very early age.  Ever since she was a kid, she says she wanted,

“…a house in the suburbs, with my own washing machine and dryer, a big kitchen to cook huge meals, and an extra bedroom for guests to stay in when they visited.”

After graduating from college, she took a job at a financial investment firm and set out to achieve her fantasy of the good life.

Soon Strobel found herself sinking into depression despite having a promising but not fulfilling job, a nice car, a closet full of clothes, and a great husband.  To alleviate her feelings of dissatisfaction, like many of us, she went on regular shopping trips to the nearby outlet mall.

Shopping brought momentary bursts of pleasure, but entangled her in a never-ending work-spend cycle and locked her further into frustration and despair.  On top of that, by the end of college, she and her husband had accumulated $30,000 in debt.  Despite having the “ideal” life, her dream house was now far beyond her reach and she felt plagued by a pervasive sense of dissatisfaction.

Strobel’s experience is not an anomaly.  In fact, the scientific research she shares in You Can Buy Happines (and It’s Cheap) links a materialistic mindset with unhappiness and negative emotions.  She quotes Tim Kassner, author of The High Price of Materialism, as saying:

“…strong materialistic values are associated with a pervasive undermining of people’s well-being, from low life satisfaction and happiness, to depression and anxiety, to physical problems such a headaches and to personality disorders, narcissism and antisocial behavior.”

That’s a wake up call, isn’t it? 

Simplicity and happiness are inextricably link in Strobel’s mind for good reason. Simple living, she says, has brought her the precious gifts of time, freedom, and community, which constitute her personal definition of lasting happiness.

Fortunately, a series of events collided to create a turning point in Strobel’s life.  She began a gradual, but consistent journey of downsizing and documents all the twists and turns in her book.

Finding Freedom and Happiness in Simplicity

Throughout You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap), Strobel emphasizes that downsizing is a process that takes time and, understandably, raises fears, but is well worth the happiness and freedom you will discover.  The practical tips and deeper wisdom in Strobel’s book will help you:

  • Define happiness for yourself
  • Outline the level of simplicity that is right for you
  • Explore your personal relationship with stuff and money
  • Take small actionable steps to reduce excess stuff
  • Avoid the lure of excessive shopping
  • Get on top of over-spending
  • Explore ways to get out of debt
  • Feel reassured and encouraged when fear arises
  • Learn about different models of simplicity
  • Redefine success and focus on your passion
  • Improve your relationships
  • Discover the joy of tiny pleasures.

Here’s a taste of what awaits you in You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap) through a look at the chapter titles:

  1. Buying Things Will Not Make You Happy
  2. The Stuff You Own Owns You
  3. Changing Your Relationship with Stuff
  4. The Power of Debt
  5. Sell What You Can, Give the Rest Away
  6. The Joy of a Small House
  7. Reclaiming Work
  8. Time Is the Only Real Wealth
  9. Money vs. Experiences
  10. Relationships Matter, Not Things
  11. The Art of Community Building
  12. The Power of Tiny Pleasures

As an avid reader of Strobel’s blog, I was so excited when the review copy arrived in my mailbox.  I feel blessed to have this friendly guidebook at my side as I enter into my own process of downsizing.  Rich with stories, practical steps, and warm encouragement, You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap) will help you change your life for the better in countless happy ways.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the connection between happiness and simplicityHave your found more happiness in simplicity?

Thank you for reading and sharing!  If you enjoyed this article please subscribe for free updates by email.  With love and gratitude,  Sandra



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  1. Sandra – Thank you so much for this amazing review. 🙂 I’m thrilled that you enjoyed the book.


    • You’re welcome, Tammy. I loved the book and it’s wonderful to support you and your endeavor to help others. I appreciate your warm heart and clear mind.

  2. Very interesting. Sounds like a must-read – especially as it endorses my own beliefs and practices (;-)). My curiosity was piqued when I saw a review on Barrie Davenport’s site.

    So nice to meet you, Tammy! I personally believe that Happiness is a DIY project – and try and live it every day. You are very right about simplifying to increase happiness in our lives.

    Thanks for the lovely introduction, Sandra.

    • Hi Vidya,

      I love how you think of happiness as a DIY project. Sometimes I call it an “inside job”. Same thing, I would say! I’m glad you are connecting with Tammy. You both have beautiful hearts and clear minds.

  3. Nice review. I read Farnoosh’s review on as well. You both covered it well, but from different angles. Sounds like it is so much more than just another book on minimalism. I look forward to reading it.

    Dan Garner

    • Hi Dan,

      Yes, it’s more than just a book on how to reduce clutter or stuff. It goes far deeper and helps us to explore for ourselves our attachments and how they can get in the way of a more deep and last happiness.

  4. jean sampson

    This sounds like a book I should read! I live in a small house with way too many books—-but whenever I go to get rid of them, I usually wind up sitting down and reading them! I hope the book will address that! 🙂 Happens every time!

    • Hi Jean,

      I have a hard time letting go of books too! Tammy’s doesn’t talk about letting go of books specifically, but there is a chapter on letting go of stuff that might help. It sounds like you have already downsized. Here’s a blog post article that might that talks about letting go of books, which I found helpful.

      Books are good friends. I understand why you sit down to have another conversation with them! I use a Kindle now but I still have older books to consider. Good luck!

  5. Julie

    This book interests me a lot; I must read it! I am 63 and for the last 3 years have managed to downsize my work and manage on less money. I have more time for practicing yoga, (which I have been doing for 10 years now), also gardening, which I love and reading, (which used to be rather a luxury!) I feel calmer and healthier than I have for years. My husband and I enjoy walking and good food. We used to eat out regularly but now prefer to cook meals that we really like for each other. I now enjoy waking up early and having a good, long day ahead to fill as I choose!

    • Hi Julie,

      I’m so inspired by the changes in your life and how much more calmer and happier you feel after downsizing. It sounds like you could write this book or a similar version! Thanks for sharing your experience with us. It is so encouraging!

  6. This sounds like a great book, and a very wise approach to life. Our economy and our happiness seem to be at such cross purposes. Happiness is not dependent on consumerism, but our economy is. As consumerism goes up, it’s good for the economy but bad for joy. How this will ever be resolved is beyond my “simple” mind!

    On a more personal note, I come at this from a slightly different life experience. As a child, I was very “spoiled” in terms of material things. I don’t mean that we were rich (we weren’t), but my mother would often get me things I didn’t even know I wanted. I figured out pretty early in life that the wealth of things I was showered with did not bring me happiness. In a backwards sort of way, I’m grateful for my upbringing because it has taught me that whatever financial blessings I have are useful only in service of joy rather than as a source of joy.

    • Hi Galen,

      This is a very interesting point about consumerism and the economy. I think we need to redesign the economy! If we all lived simply, maybe the economy would just look and be different. Of course, it’s a bit beyond my “simple” mind too, but I’m sure there are futurists thinking about it!

      I’m glad you learned these lessons about stuff and happiness early so that you had more freedom and joy in the adult times of your life.

      I appreciate your thoughts on happiness and simplicity.

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