Jun 11

The Bottomless Pit of Materialism is Slowly Driving Us Insane

minimalism-1400x600This is everything I own: A MacBook Pro, an iPad, an unlocked iPhone, seven shirts, two pairs of jeans, two jackets, one coat, one sweater, two pairs of shoes, a suitcase, a backpack, some gym shorts, bathroom stuff, socks, and underwear. That’s it. Everything I own can be easily packed into a small suitcase and moved within 30 minutes.

There is nothing that I want that I don’t already own. And this is despite owning a six-figure internet business.

In Fight Club, Tyler Durden made the bold claim: “The things you own, end up owning you.” Although I think that’s true, I’m not going to be a zealot here and try to convince you to throw away all of your possessions and go live on a mountain or something. Obviously, you have a life and a home (perhaps a family) and needs, and a radical shift in lifestyle wouldn’t be practical for many of you. I live in a new country every three months, run my entire life from my laptop and rent furnished apartments everywhere I go. I realize that’s not a typical luxury.

But what I am going to try to convince you is that you probably don’t need as much of the stuff you think you do and that getting rid much of it can be surprisingly liberating as well as make you happier.

Back in 2007, I went broke after graduating university. To deal with this, I sold most of my possessions and moved onto a friend’s couch temporarily. At the time, it was painful. My bed, my desk, a lot of my books and CD’s, pictures, and who knows what else. I remember it felt excruciating. But despite my perception of “selling everything,” I still moved into my friend’s place with two large boxes of crap, a full suitcase of clothes, desktop computer, desk chair, TV stand (don’t ask) and other odds and ends. For the six months, I lived on that couch, 75% of everything I owned sat neatly in boxes, untouched.

The next year, with a struggling online business, no money, and nowhere to go, I moved home to live with mom for a while. Since shipping a box full of stuff from Boston to Texas cost $100 at the time, and that was about $100 more than I could afford to spend, I jettisoned even more stuff. On Craigslist, everything went: goodbye bicycle, messenger bag, the high-end poker chip set I won in a tournament, framed pictures, dumbbell weights, yoga mat, basketball, Playstation 2 and games. It hurt. It’s funny now, but looking back I really felt like a failure because I was selling all of my possessions to keep my business afloat. Like it was this massive sacrifice. Aside from my clothes and suitcase, all I kept was my guitar and a small box of books.

hand-holding-suitcase-780x596Six months later, I began my foray into the mobile Tim Ferriss-inspired lifestyle. I visited Brazil and moved to Buenos Aires. I took one large suitcase with me and spent hours the days before I left deliberating over how I was going to fit everything I “needed” into one single suitcase for 3-6 months abroad. Which tools do I bring? Which raincoat should I bring? Fitness supplements, external hard drives, an extra pair of running shoes, clothes iron and cooking spices all seemed like necessities at the time.

Needless to say, I didn’t use half of the stuff I brought to Argentina and I’ve since rid myself of literally everything I don’t use semi-regularly. These days I live out of a suitcase smaller than most people take on a 4-day beach vacation and a small backpack for my laptop. Most of what I own is expensive, but it was purchased with the purpose of efficiency and utility, not for entertainment, status or whim.



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