I love opening gifts. Love surprises too.
Well, good surprises anyway.( I don’t know anyone who loves a bad surprise.)
In the season of giving and getting, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I own.
If you were to ask me on the spot, I don’t know if I could give you an accurate number of (all the) things I own.
Could you? If I asked you to count all of your worldly possessions?
Let’s refine the question.
How many things do you own that you use every day?
How many things do you never use?
How many things do you have that you would put in the clutter category?
You’ve probably heard the phrase, ‘the things you own, end up owning you’. It’s a well put phrase, and gets to the heart of the issue I’m talking about. But what does it look like in practice?
For one, owning something means being without something else. Unless you have unlimited resources (or unlimited genie wishes, either will do), purchasing one thing prevents you from purchasing something else (in the present). If I buy a new guitar for $3000, that prevents me from buying something equivalent, like a OLED TV, or another type of instrument. The guitar adds value to my life and enables me to continue mastering my music skills, but it doesn’t leave any wiggle room money wise. This applies not only to stuff but also experiences as well. I could buy a guitar, or I could take a trip to Hawaii. Is one choice greater than the other? Not really. That depends on my priorities and what I value most in this moment. Of course, in the moment, we don’t always think about these things this way. If I want a guitar, all I’m thinking about is the shiny new guitar on my wishlist, and am not really considering what the value and costs are if I click buy.
Another way things begin to own us is through osmosis.
Everything around you that you own has gravity and weight to it. Things hanging around your place are TODOs and habits you want to embodied, and a person you want to be more like. If you ARE living how you are buying, then the things around you are used regularly. Books are being read. Instruments being played. Exercise equipment has been hard at work. But often this isn’t the case. Usually, we are surrounded by things we wish we were doing, but are spending ever ounce of time, energy and focus we have NOT doing them. For good reasons usually. We’re too busy at work. We don’t have the time right now. Blah blah blah.
The question we must ask ourselves is should we keep things that weigh us down and zap our energy (just a little) every time we look at that pile of kitchen books and spiralizer and realize we haven’t cooked a proper home cooked meal in decades.
Before you buy something (or keep something) think about what it means for you to have it. Does it bring you joy? Is it an idealized version of who you want to be? Can you make time for it right now? Is it worth it?
And when you buy something new, thing about another object you already own that you can part with. A thing for a thing. One for one. Out with the old you, in with the new you.
Things are only worth having if they are actually useful or bring us joy. Everything else is for the birds and would be much more appreciated in someone else’s home.
STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh W