“It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor.” – Seneca
In an interview with Tim Ferriss, the author Ryan Holiday explains that, if being rich is being able to buy everything you want, then you can achieve it in two different ways. Either make more money to buy more things or want fewer things.
The illusion that having more things will make you happier simply not true. You will work so hard to get more money that you will not even be able to enjoy what you get. So many people have said that about buying the latest smartphone only to want the shiny new one the year after, and feel frustrated if they cannot have it. The main flaw with this reasoning is that we always want more – this logic is only bound to set us up for disappointment.
The truth is, that constant loop of happiness and unhappiness only comes because of the desire to get new things. That said-desire usually comes at a price, a money price, but not exclusively. Here are the 3 main resources that having things consume.
“We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.” – Dave Ramsey
That is the obvious one. In most cases, having lots of things comes at a cost. You spend money, you get things. That money is gone. Take the clothes with their label still on in your wardrobe, or that video game you played 2 or 3 times only. You paid for these right? What if you could go back and not buy it, but instead use your money to do something else. That holiday you cannot do because you are running low on money maybe?
The temptation is understandable. After all, look around, you are not alone in that shop right? Be the exception and leave the shop if there is nothing you need to buy. Consumerism has made it a hobby to buy things (read: made it a hobby to spend lots of money on just stuff you do not need).
“It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it.” – Seneca
The more plants you have, the more time you will need to take care of them. The more stuff you have on that shelf the longer it will take for you to dust it. The more clothes you wear if you change every day the more time you’ll spend washing, drying and ironing them and getting ready in the morning, having to make choices between a vast panel of clothes.
Unless it is more time, more is not better. Things take your time. But unlike you, things do not care about time. Do not let inanimate objects take it away from you. Time is the most valuable resource. You just cannot make more of it.
“You become what you give your attention to.” – Epictetus
Random stuff creates a constant distraction and drives your attention away. You sit in the living room and start thinking about all you need to do to maintain all the things clean. Wondering of all the things you could have fun with right now, taking you away from what you really have to do.
Because of all these things, you are not able to really do what you want and focus on the task at hand. Is that what you call freedom? Having to be constantly thinking about what is not in front of you? Can you be mindful and be fully present with what you are doing now? Most people do not realise this is a prison of their own. If you did not have anything, think about how free you would be, to leave your home when you want and never have to double think about saying yes or no to a plan.
All of these distractions make you a procrastinator because there will always be something better to do first. You can read my article on how to stop procrastinating here.
I guess the main question is: Is it worth having lots of things?
Nope. Focus on what is here by removing the expensive distractions around you.
Next time you see something you want to buy, ask yourself, have I been there before? What choice did I make and did it make me happier? Most likely, if the answer is no and it just satisfies you in the short term, then you really do not need it.
Do not be impulsive like a child, stay free as a kid.
Imagine this. If you had a van with just the cutlery you needed, two sets of clothes, and nothing else, how much time would you actually have for exciting things? How much money to pay for them? And how much would you be focused on the tasks at hand? Or free to jump on an opportunity?
Think about it too. Look at the ratio “benefits something brings VS time it takes to worry about it”.