If I asked you to think of two to three material items on your wish list right now, which you think would make your life a little bit better for one reason or another, could you?
A luxury watch, a designer handbag, a new television.
Now think how or why you think they’d enrich your life.
That new designer watch. Thinking honestly, what makes it different from a well-crafted non-luxury timepiece? It’s the branding. The lifestyle associations which come alongside it.
A bigger television. Is it to enjoy your films in better quality, or just because when it comes to TV’s, we’ve been repeatedly told bigger is better? It becomes a home status symbol, a ‘keeping up with the Jones’ mentality.
A luxury branded handbag. Probably as well-made as a hand stitched leather bag you could find for a third of the price. However they come without the logo. So how would people know that you’ve got THE coveted bag of the season if it’s non-recognizable? How do people know you’re doing well in life without the branding?
I have been guilty of this thinking. If we’re being honest, you may have been too.
However if we started to see material goods for what they really are. Tools to help us in our daily activities. Things. Stuff. We stop coveting them all so much.
Seeing Things For What They Really Are
We need to realise that those designer shoes might bring with them a certain lifestyle association and may impress our friends, but they won’t bring true happiness. Unless you’re enriching your life and focusing on the things that truly matter to you, you will always be wanting more. As soon as you have those shoes, you’ll be coveting the next bigger and better thing.
Trust me, I subscribed to this lifestyle choice and getting the material things I thought I wanted never actually resulted in lasting happiness. I just kept on living a cycle of comparing myself to others.
I now buy only out of need rather than want, and before purchasing I always ask myself three questions.
Am I buying this because it is necessary and has a purpose in my life?
Have I chosen this particular item for it’s quality, or for the status it provides?
Am I buying this to impress others?
It’s surprising how often just by asking those three simple statements, things get returned onto the hangers, or removed from my online basket.
Just last week I almost bought a blender costing five times as much as one with better reviews, because it’s currently seen as ‘the’ blender to have.
Thankfully I saw some sense before completing checkout.
Try it yourself
A small exercise for you to do this evening could be to walk through your home and ask those questions retrospectively about what you own.
Here they are again:
- Did I buy this because it is necessary and has a purpose in my life?
- Have I chosen this particular item for it’s quality, or for the status it provides?
- Did I buy this to impress others?
See if you can learn anything about the reasons behind why you buy, and be honest with yourself.
Since I have placed less value on my things, the only change I have noticed is that I have more money, time and focus for the things which actually do truly make me happy.
Writing, travel and being with loved ones.
I might not buy bags with designer branding anymore, but I have a long-lasting leather satchel which has travelled with me to four countries from what I have saved by adopting this mindset.
I don’t have the biggest TV, best car, biggest house or biggest shoe collection compared to my friends and family.
But I am not defined by my things. Instead I define my success on two little questions.
Am I actually truly happy, and am I spending my time on money on the things which really matter to me, and me only?