Come on, of course you need the new smartphone. Right? Of course you need that new tablet, that new laptop, that new television, that new spiralizer, that new garden gnome, that new Eiffel Tower iPhone case. Well, maybe not those last few. But really, do we need any of it? Do we really need all this stuff, is it really making us happier? I’m beginning to think that gaining new possessions doesn’t do very much at all to make us happier, and in fact, that getting rid of our possessions and going down to only the things that add a tangible benefit to our lives is the best way to maximise our happiness and minimise our stress.
Let’s face it, the constant cycle of tech can be a stress. The feeling that what you have isn’t quite as good as what your pal has never really goes away. If you do overtake your buddy, then you’ll feel inferior to your rich friend. Maybe you even overtake him, and then suddenly you envy your boss. It never really stops, we always feel like our things and our stuff isn’t as good as somebody else’s. The billionaire President of the United States has made it pretty clear that even when it seems like you’ve got it all you can still be jealous and petty.
What if we abandoned the whole thing? Instead of relying on a constant stream of material goods to feel good about ourselves, we focused on fostering compassion and having fulfilling relationships with our friends and family. Instead of working long hours to fill your main room with the most expensive reclining arm-chair, you use that time to see an old friend, or walk among nature, or get a meal with your family. These are the things that really matter in giving us a sense of fulfilment, not anything you can buy at Harrods.
Money is best spent not on possessions, but experiences with the people you care about. Spending half a grand on an espresso machine will mean a nice flat white in the morning, but spending it on a trip to Paris with a loved one will give you an experience you can never forget.
This isn’t to say that all possessions are bad. You don’t have to become an ascetic who abstains from all earthly pleasures to feel some of the benefits of minimising your possessions. Some possessions are worth keeping, and will add to your quality of life. The camera that you got that great photograph you’ll treasure for years is worth keeping, but upgrading it every year for a boatload of money isn’t going to be worth it.
See friends and family, go on holidays, have delicious meals, enjoy the possessions you do own, pursue creative ventures, and be conscious and aware of the moments in which you are enjoying life. These things will help you to make your life more fulfilling, and by getting rid of our obsession with possessions we can begin to find the things that make life worth living.