Simple Living: Do You Own Your Stuff or Does it Own You?

Courtesy of
Courtesy of


How much of our lives could we buy back if we cherished our lives instead of our trinkets?  Gerry Spence-American Lawyer &Writer

Trinkets.  I love them.  Exquisitely beaded jewelry, hand-kilned furniture, beautiful shoes, original artwork, the classics bound in leather with gilded pages, fancy porcelain teacups…  For those of you who know me this may sound strange–what I present to the world through my home and clothing seems to run on the side of simple, boring–anything but gilded!  In reality that is not wholly my true tastes.  Wallpapered elegance and finery really would suit a little part of me–wouldn’t it suit us all?  Some would say, “Life is too short…live what you dream…sample the finery…Carpe Diem!”  Part of me would agree.  Except I love something more than this attachment to finery–I love my time.  Not pursuing the finer things means my goals do not have to constantly be guided by gaining monetary wealth.  Of course, I should strive to do well in my career and know that my salary will likely indicate some achievement–but simplifying my desires for trinkets allows for the freedom of time and not a concentrated effort on finding more wealth.

Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless. As goods increase, so do those who consume them.And what benefit are they to the owners except to feast their eyes on them?  Ecclesiastes 5:10-11

Even if you are not a Christian, the verses in Ecclesiastes hold true for our current society in huge measure–we watch “others” in pursuit of and loving this wealth–and so shouldn’t we as well?  It is on billboards, commercials, social media, reality shows–it infiltrates and leaves a strong desire for more money, but does it benefit us?  To a certain degree “yes.” Research declares the new number in the United States is $75,000–that is now considered the monetary happiness mark.  If your household declares an income similar to this making more is not likely to make you happier.  However, a one income fits all scenario seems ridiculous–cost of living, family members being supported by income, debt to income ratio, level of consumption increasingly effect what is “needed” to “be happy.”  …And if you have read The Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn or Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin you know “happiness” or comfort can be achieved on less.

Life Requires Action, Not Necessarily Cash Flow

The actual action of putting one’s heart and hopes out there is so much more effective for realizing our dreams than buying.

Wealth is synonymous with possessions and riches.  For many of us this means stuff.  Wealth means those beautiful shoes and porcelain tea cups, but why are we in pursuit of wealth?  I believe with stuff there is a dream.  If I wear Jimmy Choo shoes then my life is going to get better…people are going to notice me, like me, and I’ll have more friends.  There is a hope tied to the stuff we possess.  If I buy beautiful furniture for my home…I’ll keep it clean, entertain more, and have lasting and satisfying relationships.  If I buy tickets to the ballet…I’ll be among the socialites, befriend them, and my business prospects will increase.  Maybe?  …But what if in all of these scenarios we skipped the stuff.  I want more friends, so I’m going to put myself out there and be a better friend.  I want to have lasting relationships, so I’m going to open my home to others despite my old couch and coffee table.  I want my business to be successful, so I’m going to listen to my intuition and find a mentor to help me get there.  These scenarios seek the same final results, and stuff really wasn’t required for any of it–the actual action of putting ones heart and hopes out there is so much more effective for realizing our dreams than buying.  You can read more about love and money here: Rich People Talk About How Happy Money Make Them 

Moderation in All Things, Even in Owning Trinkets

The author of Ecclesiastes continues to point out that the increase of goods and consumers does not do much–it benefits only by being a feast for the eye.  That feast though is so tantalizing.  I have four beautiful mugs.  I bought them 15 years ago and spent more than any twenty-something should have for something so small and unnecessary.  They are lovely and artful, and I do enjoy my morning tea in these cups.  I do appreciate their beauty, but I do not treasure them–if they broke that would be okay too.  I enjoy beautiful (and sometimes expensive) things in moderation.  I think enjoying an object because of its beauty is what separates us into this humanness we possess–beauty is in the man-made and in the natural as well–and our human eye and soul seeks many kinds of beauty.   It is when owning trinkets becomes our only pursuits it becomes our idol and this lessens our spirituality (maybe even our compassion).

Just some Monday Meanderings–what is an upside to pursuing beautiful things? Downside?


3 thoughts on “Simple Living: Do You Own Your Stuff or Does it Own You?

  1. Your Money or Your Life – one of my favourite books!

    There’s a lot to be said for letting go of the need for ‘having’ (stuff, money, fame) and instead focusing on ‘being’. I believe it’s a central tenet of Buddhism.

    For me, while I love the finer things in life, I’m content with what I have. Everything else is a bonus!

    1. When I read what you wrote I thought of this quote–
      “I have never been a millionaire. But I have enjoyed a great meal, a crackling fire, a glorious sunset, a walk with a friend, a hug from a child, a cup of soup, a kiss behind the ear. There are plenty of life’s tiny delights for all of us.”
      Jack Anthony

      There are plenty of these kind of bonuses for all of us–and they are so much more rewarding!

  2. I like the idea of pursuing beautiful things more than actually owning them. Your post makes me think of a currently popular country song by the Zac Brown Band called Homegrown with the line “I’ve got everything I need and nothing that I don’t” — I’m trying to get there!

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