I wish you all well on your paths towards happiness. My path towards a happier life ended up here, living in Sweden. It was not an accident.
I am currently going to grad school for free, as I now a Swedish citizen as well as a US citizen. I also get a small grant once a month to help pay bills from the state. When my wife and I had two kids, not only is the hospital care free, we also got 480 days of paid parental leave for each child (at 80% pay) for each of us to use. Due to saving so much money not having to pay for grad school and not loosing so much money by having kids, my wife and I were able to put our savings towards buying a nice little house.
My wife and I were hardcore punks in our youth, and in many ways we still are. We never got any credit cards, don't care about fancy clothing (or fancy anything, really), and enjoy the simple things in life. We still go and get burgers and fries together and call it a date, and we have a good time doing it. We drive a used POS station wagon and we love it. We go out into the woods and pick loads of mushrooms and berries (I also fish) not just because it's fun, but it's free food man! Tonight for dessert after dinner we ate a pie my wife and son made with berries from our garden we froze for the winter. We got a used TV free from my in-laws, and the laptop I am typing now is over 3 years old. All of our furniture is either IKEA (and a good portion of the IKEA stuff we got in the deals section discounted), 2nd hand, or hand-me-downs. We are poor cheapskates and proud of it, and live a happy and productive life.
Which is why I don't feel guilty in the least when I throw down for some nice backpacking gear when I want it. Plus it's not like it's that expensive anyhow, at least for me, but I am a user of gear I buy, not a collector. Just yesterday I got my Neoair Xlite and it's awesome. It's my biggest hobby, some might call it a passion, I don't really care what you call it, I just know I never get sick of it and want to go out and hike around he woods and sleep there as much as possible. I mean... what the F else do I spend money on? I've got clothing I have been wearing (and still wear) for over a decade, still jam out to our awesome LP collection, and we bought a used Nintendo Game Cube 3 years ago for next to nothing that we had many hours of fun with (mostly Soul Caliber 2).
I say if you are going to go for the minimalist thing, go for it, and go for it all the way. You can be happy and reject all the BS stuff that is just a burden which does not really make you happy, but gives the illusion of happiness (or in the case of a sports car, illusions of another more amusing sort). Figure out what it is that you really like to do and do it. Cutting out the other BS ought to allow for it, unless your thing is, I dunno, collecting sports cars. Go for it and don't look back. Some of my friends called me crazy when I told them I was moving to Sweden, a few said it was not even possible. Here I am 6 years later with a house, two kids, new friends, and halfway done with my master's degree. The only debt I have is our mortgage on the house, which is very reasonable, and we'll eventually pay it off. After we pay it off, we will be debt free for the rest of our lives.
Good luck to you, and to anyone else reading this that is sick and tired of all the BS. You don't need fancy everything, and you can still live simple and happy with just a few luxuries, like say, backpacking gear ;)