The Futility of Possession

A recent study by Cornell University concludes:

… people get more enduring happiness from their experiences than their possessions …

Possessions have value only to the degree that we consider them “ours” but nothing belongs to us forever. Possessions will deteriorate, loosing their novelty and value over time. Still, we work so hard to acquire, retain and protect them. Those efforts are ultimately futile, hence the inherent dissatisfaction with possessions.

I’d like to emphasize the experience of letting go as exemplified by the chorus of The Streets’ Everything Is Borrowed:

I came to this world with nothing
And I leave with nothing but love
Everything else is just borrowed

2 thoughts on “The Futility of Possession

  1. Anonymous

    I donno, the value of my bike in getting me to work was fairly concrete. Bike = travel faster. Possession alone has no value, but with utility value is added.

  2. Fred Eaker

    What if you woke up and your bike was stolen–the same morning an important meeting was scheduled?

    What if your bike's tire busted on the way to the office, causing an injury that kept you out of work?

    To what extent must you maintain and protect the bike to ensure that the events described above do not occur?

    In your example, your bike is a potential liability. It may have some value but it is limited to ideal conditions and the cost of failure could be very great!

    My point is this: reliance on "things," regardless of their "utility," does not bring unequivocal happiness. In other words, there is more to life than having things (possessing).

    I would argue that life is more enjoyable and peaceful without needless possessions–i.e. simplicity and detachment.


Leave a Reply