the myth of ownership

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Hello and welcome back to the blog my friends 🙂

We’ve had a lot of guest posts recently so it’s been a while since I’ve personally penned a post. I’ve missed you guys!

Today I wanted to share a small thought nugget that’s been bouncing around my brain recently – whether ownership is all it’s cracked up to be.

I’ve always thought of owning things as being the ideal and final state of being. There were so many things I’d rather own than rent:

  • A car
  • A house
  • Some skis
  • My clothes
  • Anything really

Then I read the book Think Like a Monk, by Jay Shetty. He lived in a monastery for several years as a monk before rejoining the “real world”. Shetty talked about how the monks owned only two pairs of robes (one to wear and one to wash) and the one pair of sandals on their feet. This kind of severe minimalism allowed them to appreciate everything they received more. The monks’ perspective was that no one really owned anything; everything was on loan from the universe. If you are at peace when you have nothing, everything you get, for however long you get it, is only a happy addition; whereas, if you only experience fulfillment when you have certain items, the loss of any item would lead to unhappiness.

Similarly, a listener on the Minimalists’ podcast recently shared a trick he used to help him let go of certain material possessions. For example, if he bought a couch for $2,000 and couldn’t bear to sell it at a loss, he would rephrase the scenario in his mind as a rental rather than a sale.

Sale scenario: He bought the couch for $2,000 but ultimately sold it at $1,000, which was a loss of $1,000. To not have to experience the let-down of such a loss, he decides to just keep the couch.

Rental scenario: He bought the couch for $2,000 and used it in his home for 10 years. After 10 years, he’s able to sell the couch for $500. That equates to a rental rate of ($2,000 – $1,000) / 10 years = $100 per year. However, if he keeps the couch until it reaches nil value (or, since he is human, until he dies, at which point the couch would be worthless to him), the rental rate would be $2,000 / 15 years = $133 per year. He decides it makes more economical sense to let go of the couch rather than hoard it.

I’ve really enjoyed this idea and have tried to frame my purchases with rental scenarios. After all, most of our things do not last forever, and even if they did, as sad as it is to think about it, none of us will live forever. It, therefore, seems silly to be spending as if everything is not finite.

I’m curious what your thoughts on renting vs buying are. Let me know if you agree or disagree in the comments.



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