I mean, the total worth of it, was one thousand euros maybe. He shrugged and my mouth felt open. I wasn’t prepared for this amount of carelessness. „But what could there be in of real value?” My friend said as he saw my reaction. He might be right, I thought because we often mistake what is of real value and what is „just” money even if it’s much. At least for me it is a lot of money. „I would mind that my phone would be stolen because there are so many private things and data on it” I said when pointe out that his phone is of no value for him. Surely, the thing itself isn’t worthy even though there are teenagers that would cry when their phone got broken. On the other side, there are surely also people who don’t care about devices and treat them so, which is not laudable either.
The issue is that we often get attached by material things and do not see anything else around except for that one thing we are working for and/or sparing money for. A friend of mine told me that he had to work together with a student whose biggest dream was to own a Prada bag for two thousand euros. He didn’t like to work with her at all – not because she was not kind but simply because their values even concerning studying didn’t interfere and therefore it was impossible to talk to each other in a productive manner.
People who get caught up in wanting the newest things, often the most expensive things behave differently from people who are just happy with what they have, who strive for non-material aims like good relations and health. This is so common, it was said a thousand times and based on that the whole minimalism wave evolved (see a previous blog post about minimalism). Fundamental literature was also provided by Fumio Sasaki who shared his story of detaching from things and how it changed his life.
From an outer perspective we can say: Yeah, this is so obvious, this is so crystal clear to not haunt the newest stuff, not obsess about it (hopefully). These behaviours are easier to disclose since they are so present in some niches.
What is not so clear, is the hiding of those destructive attachments inside ourselves that we cannot make out so easily.
A simple practice would be to play with the idea or even actually do eliminate items in our household or behaviours that you could be obsessed about. My father, for example, noticed immediately that I had borrowed their soup ladle because it was his favourite one and means a lot to his family. I needed to give it back. Is he being obsessed with items? Maybe. Though, it is understandable that many families have their own relicts and have a certain kind of attachment to these things. Though, things have nothing in common with family values or even their worth. Would you throw away old photos and sketches of your childhood? I would not – Am I being obsessed about those objects? Maybe, since they mean a lot to me and it would upset me if they got lost or destroyed.
Those situations are a bit tricky but start with something easy… though I could not get away with my favourite tea cup I painted myself, I would even take it to longer trips because I need this familiarity of drinking out of my cup. Do you have such items? (You can easily write in the comments)
We do not have to be crazy about a new car or a designer bag. You can get attached to a person, or certain destructive obsessive behaviours like shopping or eating or even working (burnout). We can obsess with anything and obsession means we cannot seem to live without this certain thing. When we don’t do it or have it, we develop negative emotions such as nausea and anger. It is nothing wrong with spending a lot of time with a person but through reflecting on ourselves we and only we can determine whether or not we are being destructive on our personal fundament.
To end with, I want to give a short but profound quote, as you know me, it is obviously by Buddha.
“You can only lose what you cling to.”– Buddha