I recently had to clear my mother’s house from decades of her belongings. So many items had memories attached and a significance that was impossible to quantify in value when we had our garage sale. Quite a few vintage items were sold; a lot was boxed and shipped to my house; much had to be donated. All the things that once defined my mother’s personality had to be objectively categorized- from the broken and outdated to the family heirlooms and whimsical, kitschy souvenirs.
When we moved across the U.S. we were in a similar position: sort, pack, sell, donate, dispose of. Alfred said at the time, “I will think twice before I ever buy anything again.” Yet we find our basement and garage shelves getting crowded once again.
We spend a lot of our lives wanting things, accumulating things, maintaining things, replacing things, but I wonder how much time do we actually cherish them? How much do we actually need or use? New stuff provides instant gratification and this emotional response can be addictive. As soon as we purchase the latest version of this, not long after, a better version of that appears- especially true in electronics. The more you have, the more you crave because a material thing can never fill an emotional void but rather satisfy a psychological need of a different caliber.
If you want to buy something that will lead to happiness, spend money on experiences. The items I treasure the most usually have a memorable participation attached to them, usually in the presence of someone who means/meant a lot to me. Spending money to increase your skills, competence or self-expression connects you to others and satisfies a psychological need of a different caliber. Therein lies the grand a-ha. Less stuff allows us to focus on that which is truly meaningful. Start the day with a mental review of all that you are grateful for. During the day practice random acts of kindness and compassion. And before you slip into sleep, think of the small things that brought you pleasure. You might be surprised just how few material objects make the list. In doing so you will soon be attuned to that which truly brings you happiness.
Alfred A. Dolezal
Eagle Crest Resort
Original Oils on Canvas
Limited Edition Series