mnmlist: possessions != security
by Leo Babauta
For most people, one of the most difficult obstacles to getting rid of possessions is the feeling of security they attach to possessions.
Having possessions, for many, gives them a sense of security.
This is just one of many emotional attachments that people have to possessions, but security issues are the biggest for many, and until you address this, you’ll probably always have an issue with possessions.
Some examples of security issues:
- Having a closet full of clothes means you’re prepared for any situation.
- Having a big home means you’re prepared to host any event, ward off any type of weather, hold any type of possession, accommodate any size family you might have in the future.
- Having a car means you’re prepared for any emergency.
- Having a shed full of tools means you can deal with any break down in the house or car.
- Having the latest gadget (i.e. the iPad) means you’re up to date with the latest technology, and won’t be an out-of-date dinosaur.
- Having a hand-held computing device (i.e. the iPhone or Blackberry or iPad) means you can work anywhere, and be in contact at all times.
And so on. Most people have possessions for these kinds of security reasons and more.
But do possessions really provide security, or is it an illusion?
Often we don’t really need those possessions as much as we might think, and even when we do have them, we’re not as secure as we might think. Consider:
- If you track what clothes you actually wear over the course of a year, you find that you never needed your “just in case” clothes and you only wore certain clothes that you like or really need. The extra clothes can be eliminated without any loss of “security”.
- People in smaller homes are no more susceptible to anything, and by eliminating space they eliminate waste, lower debt, and force themselves to make important choices about what possessions are needed.
- Even without a car, you can do everything you need using bikes, walking and mass transit, especially if you reduce your needs. And for real emergencies, there’s the ambulance, which is better than driving yourself anyway.
- You don’t really need the latest gadget. What you’ve been using will work just fine for you, and when you really need to upgrade, you’ll know it.
- You don’t really need to be connected all the time, everywhere. In fact, there was a time when you were never connected to the online world (not that long ago) and (gasp!) you survived. You can do it for an hour or three until you get back to your computer.
Let go of the need for possessions by realizing you don’t need them for security.
Consider the worst possible case, and ask youself: 1) what you might do in that case without the possession; 2) how likely this worst case is; and 3) how bad it really would be if the worst case happened.
Then try living without the possession, knowing what your back-up plan is, and see if life is really that scary without the illusion of security.