“Why do we own so many things when we don’t need them? What is their purpose? I think the answer is quite clear: We’re desperate to convey our own worth, our own value to others. We use objects to tell people just how valuable we are”.
At this time of year, it can be easy to fall into the trap of consuming.
We buy things we don’t need, spend money because we feel we have to, and give people extravagant gifts to prove how much we love them.
If ever there was a time of year to read Goodbye, Things: On Minimalist Living by Fumio Sasaki, it would be now.
This might be quality time with your family, a home cooked meal with friends, freedom to see the world, or the space to relax and have time for yourself.
One of my favourite takeaways from the book is this:
When I’m considering buying something, to ask what I want this item to say about me. Do I want people to think I have good taste? That I have money to spend on expensive shoes?
One thing I know for sure: I buy things because I want people to think a certain way about me.
“We are more interested in making others believe we are happy than in trying to be happy ourselves”.—FRANÇOIS DE LA ROCHEFOUCAULD
Realising this has changed a lot since I read the book several months ago. I haven’t bought any new clothes because I know that I don’t need them (“even though a colourful Desigual dress would make me come across as such a happy, free person…”).
I’m by no means a perfect minimalist, but the most money I’ve spent recently was when my brother visited me in Switzerland, and that was entirely on experiences.
We went to a spa with an outdoor salt pool and spent two hours enjoying the view across the lake and mountains. He said he was the most relaxed he’d ever been. I took him bouldering for the first time and confirmed that he was much stronger than me.
We made memories together and had a great time. To me, that’s worth so much more than a new party dress.
Less stuff, more freedom
Our stuff can get in the way of what’s important, but it’s never too late to bid goodbye to some of it and bring less in.
Note: you don’t have to get rid of everything you own. You don’t need to be able to list every possession to your name.
“Ugh, you still own so much. How lame!” is the same mindset as “Ugh, you still don’t have this. How lame!”
It’s about getting rid of what doesn’t mean anything to you; the stuff that just gets in the way. Once we’ve done that, we open up space and time for what matters most.
Use the one-in-one-out rule for buying new things. Stop comparing yourself to others and you’ll let go of the pride that makes you think you need more. Keep a tidy home and make everything work hard for its place in it. Know what’s important, and prioritise that above everything else.
As Fumio Sasaki tells us, immerse yourself in life, not belongings, and you’ll be rich.
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