Monday, July 27, 2009

Our Possessions Can Enslave Us

Jockeystreet on how fulfilling the desire for more can hurt us:

Over these past few years I have said again and again, in every forum that I can find, that the quality of life cannot be improved, after a certain point, by adding more stuff to the mix. I have written about, talked about, concepts like Voluntary Simplicity. I have argued that more money will not always mean more happiness. That it may often mean less happiness.

People have accused me, from time to time, of romanticizing poverty.

I would never want to do that.

I would never want to have, for myself or for my son or for anyone, “not enough.”

I want us always to have “enough.” I want us to have the sense to know what “enough” is. And to be able to stop there. To be able to get the most out of life by being able to recognize that adding more to the mix takes something away. That adding more means sometimes getting caught up in that more, trapped in it, mired. Unable to find the things we really want or need. Means committing too much of our lives to the maintenance or preservation of things that do not contribute to our happiness.


Jeff the Baptist said...

The problem that "enough" is a moving target. Once you get used to a certain quality of life or quantity of possessions, it's hard to think of anything less.

JD said...


Exactly. The good and the bad about getting good promotions, etc.

Success is a good thing, when coupled with a sense of modesty and humility. Without that, problems tend to follow quickly.


John said...

Yeah, it's a moving target and hard to define. But Jockeystreet's such a good writer that he can make crap taste like caviar.

I was thinking about this yesterday when I came across a very, very good offer for a gym membership. But I was, prior to that moment, quite content with a well-equipped apartment gym. For a moment, I was thinking "I need this bigger gym." But I don't. It's the sliding, ever-elastic wants that we have to watch out for. They so easily turn into self-justified needs.

John said...

Which is not to say that the essay is crap. I should clarify that. But that he can do a lot with a perhaps flawed idea.

James R. Rummel said...

I agree that Jeff defined it perfectly. Enough is a moving target.

Any student of history will tell you in an instant that we live lives that even the most powerful potentate of the largest empires the world has ever seen couldn't have matched. (Except for the harems, of course. They have us beat there.)

I was born in the 1960's, and even the advances we've made since then are staggering to contemplate. I'm really looking forward to the rest of my life, just to see how far we'll go in my own brief span.

John said...

Yes, wealth is better than poverty and advanced technology better than primitive.

I'm glad that I live in a world with vaccines, clean and nutritious food on demand, and air conditioning.