‘A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.’ – Steve Jobs
We all want things. We sometimes want them so badly, we ‘need’ them.
To satisfy those wants, we have to spend a bit of money. And it turns out the stuff we want isn’t usually cheap. How do know we’re not wasting money on junk. Do we really ‘need’ that iPod, or that expensive tablet, or those wireless headphones?
I’ve discovered a valuable truism the last few weeks:
Quality of life is inversely proportional to the amount of stuff you own.
Clearing out the junk from my room recently made that even clearer to me. Sure, it was like cutting off an arm at first, but as soon as I threw those things away, my irrational anguish was replaced with a feelings of tranquility.
Every time I open my drawers now, I see nothing but the things I actually use on a regular basis, and thats liberating (okay that may sound a bit weird I know). It was like being unshackled from my own possessions. Maybe the feeling that I’m the boss is liberating, I don’t know.
So we now know that having less is better.
Less is more.
How do we put that to practice when buying stuff. I mean, it won’t hurt to have another pair of shoes right? It might. But they look so good! Not really.
Okay let’s move on before I turn Gollum.
There are two key points to consider when buying stuff:
- What you are buying must solve a problem. If what you want to buy is not solving a genuine problem, IT IS JUNK. Do not let it enter your life. Ask yourself this question every time you buy something: What problem is what i’m buying going to solve?
- Moderation. Islam is moderation. Once you’re absolutely sure that what you’re buying is solving a genuine problem, go for moderation. Choose what solves the problem reasonably well. No need to pay extra for something that only provides incremental benefits.
Here’s a personal example that put these points to practice:
It began with a problem. My old (borrowed) laptop was ridiculously large and clunky with laughable battery life. It wasn’t a problem at home, but lugging it around uni was epic Hans Zimmer soundtrack worthy.
So I bought a mid-tier laptop that solved my problem: its extremely light and portable, with outstanding battery life.
I was slightly pulled towards buying another computer which met those requirements but…
It had a brilliant future-proof, crisp HD display.
It also cost $400 extra.
Well, that display didn’t solve any problem I previously had. So my choice was easy.
Being conscious of these ideas when it comes to buying things can be empowering. You also realise a few things:
- Often times we create problems to solve, because of tricky marketing and advertising. That’s why we want things we don’t need.
- Exiting the possessions competition with your friends wins it. Quit the rat race. Trying to outdo your friends by buying cooler stuff than they have is not only childish, its expensive. Being free from this with the ‘less is more’ mentality is truly liberating.
- You’re left with quite a bit of extra cash.
What do you do with that extra cash? Well, it turns out that spending money on experiences provides much greater long-lasting happiness.
Money comes and goes. The stuff you buy gets outdated.
Memories last forever. Unless you’re Jason Bourne.
If you still want to buy stuff because you have a bit of cash leftover, chances are you’re trying to fill a hole in your life which won’t be filled by throwing junk at it.
As Steve Jobs implies, our gullibility when it comes to wanting stuff we don’t need is a lucrative exploitation opportunity. Good for them, not so good for us.
That Apple Watch by the way is the ultimate exploitation of human gullibility, in my opinion at least. 😉