How long would it take you to make a complete inventory of your physical possessions? How long would it take you to box everything up yourself, and how much space would those boxes take up? If you’ve moved recently, then you can probably answer those last two questions. But imagine going through each item, writing it down, and giving a brief description for the sake of inventory. Further imagine visiting each item mentally and physically and describing the purpose each filled in your life. Impossible task?

Why is it we own more than ever before? Has our need for things grown over time? Why do we acquire, keep, and continue to acquire things? Let’s explore a few of the reasons we seem to need larger and larger homes.

 Why We Hold onto Things

Functionality

As human life has evolved technologically, we’ve seen the products we purchase to ‘get the job done’ become more and more specialized. These tools and machines may get used once in a blue moon simply because they can only do one specific job, but their owners can justify their place in the home.

Sentimentality

Sometimes, the strangest things hang around in our lives for years gathering dust. They may even live in a box or trunk, hidden from the human eye for decades. No function at all, but their owners have an emotional tie to them. Perhaps it was a birthday present from one’s 7th birthday, or one’s wedding dress, or even an empty soda can you were drinking from the first time you saw your favourite actor win an award.

Status and a Society of Consumers

Often, people buy something because it is the latest fad, it looks cool, or it makes them looks good and impresses their friends. The item doesn’t have to be any better than what the person already owns, but when it’s cleverly marketed as being the new ‘it’, it may be irresistible.

The Void

Common to many people is a need for distraction from what is missing in themselves. Emotional voids, often created early in life or even through trauma and heartbreak in adulthood, can be too painful to face. Instead of healthy self-examination and seeking support, people will turn to filling their lives with things that temporarily make themselves feel ‘filled’ or whole. It never really works, however. The buying cycle continues, and the search for happiness remains unfulfilled. (more…)

Needs, Wants, and Minimalist Living

Continue Reading Needs, Wants, and Minimalist Living