Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

6 Bits of Dorm Room Wisdom that Can Be Applied to Any Life

For many of us, college was one of–if not the–happiest time of our lives. It was a time when meeting people was easy. The world was full of possibility. We traveled light. Everything seemed new and exciting. We were unshackled from the chains of parental guidance.

Then something happened. We moved off campus. We graduated. We got jobs, donned suits, got married, had kids, bought cars, acquired homes with yards. We suddenly had little time for friends. We got stuff–lots of stuff. And endless possibility was replaced by endless routine. We became our own restrictive parent.

While many go back to school to recreate these halcyon days (read: MFA), there are lessons we might learn from our former, freer selves–lessons that can be applied without going back to school and to lives that include careers, children and regular bathing. Here you go:

  1. We live to connect. This is surely the most important aspect of college life. Many of us made lifelong friends in college, and studies have found that humans with high degrees of social interaction live happier, longer lives. It also found the converse to be true: For example, people who live with low social interaction suffer the same health hazards as someone who smokes 15 cigarettes a day. The beauty of the college experience is that connection is in the architecture: Long hallways, small rooms and compact campuses help create collisions of connections. Many corporate campuses nowadays try to replicate this phenomena.
  2. We don’t need that much living space. The typical American dorm room is around 180 sq ft, and often that space is shared with a roommate. The amount of space humans need is very plastic. In fact, the average American takes up three times as much as space as he did 60 years ago.
  3. Privacy is overrated. It’s funny how we often think fondly of our dorm days–days sharing a tiny room, traveling down the hall to go to the bathroom and eating in large cafeterias. Sure, there were times when the lack of privacy wasn’t so great. But many of these low spots trained us how to live with others. Despite the benefits of public living, many of us strove to make our post-grad homes into fortresses of solitude. Everyone needed their own space–all resulting in more isolation and less connection. Face it, you want to be around people–even when you think you don’t.
  4. You don’t need that much stuff. Remember all of that great stuff in your dorm room: The sandwich press, your 50 state silver spoon collection, your 10 speaker surround sound system? Of course you don’t, because you didn’t have that stuff. You had a clothes hamper and a boombox you cherished, and you were just fine.
  5. Learning is good. Sure, you might have not been the most attentive student, but we bet you learned something–even if it was unconsciously picked up while you slept in class. Research is showing that we can improve mental health and even ward off degenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s Disease through learning new ideas and skills such as a language or instrument in later life.
  6. Walk more, commute less. In our college days, everything was close and we walked everywhere. A growing body of evidence suggests that commuting makes us miserable. Take a tip from the student and ditch the car wherever possible.

College Student Image via