Knowing the value your things hold for you
As we head towards another holiday and Christmas season, there’s one thing on everyone’s mind.
It’s no coincidence that Christmas is the most commercialized holiday. We hear Christmas music in November (even October sometimes), the malls are packed, and everyone is in a rush to get gifts for those they love (and even some they don’t).
One good thing about this time of year is that people, for the most part, are thinking about others rather than themselves.
But as I get older and have accumulated my share of gifts and…well…stuff in general, I wonder if the stuff is really worth IT?
IT can be anything from:
- our creativity for job security so we can afford more things and experiences
- our emotional, mental and financial wellbeing that comes with needing and wanting things
- the anxiety of getting the “perfect” gift
- the burden of keeping up with our neighbours
It’s not just the holidays that we sacrifice a part of ourselves (and our wallets) to have more stuff, we do it throughout the year but perhaps it’s only around Christmas time that we really notice the materialism in our lives.
We learn from a young age that stuff is good. It’s comfortable and satisfying having something tangible in our hands.
My friend is planning to take her kids to Disneyland in January. I suggested that be their Christmas present. Have a box with the tickets in them. But she said her kids would be pretty disappointed with nothing but a box with a piece of paper under the tree for them even if it was a trip to Disneyland.
It’s understandable why kids would feel disappointed with no toys under the tree, something they can unwrap and play with. But what does that say about our culture and society that the only way to ensure that your kids have a merry Christmas is with the amount of toys they get? It’s not a parenting issue, it’s a culture problem.
And this mentality of more stuff the better carries us throughout our lives.
There’s always something to upgrade — our houses, our cars, our TVs, new clothes. There’s no end to how much we can upgrade; our economy would collapse if we stopped wanting the next best model.
So I ask, is the stuff really worth IT?
As surprising as it may be, my answer is both Yes and No.
Just like our personalities, everybody has different values. I’m not here to tell you that a new shirt or a new car isn’t worth it because it might be to you.
Who am I to say what purchase have value and which ones don’t?
Here are a few things I like to spend my money on:
- Travel — I’m lucky enough to have travelled to a few different countries. I don’t spend my money on first class tickets or high end hotels but I do like to go places.
- Books — I’ve started to donate some of the books that haven’t seen light since I got them and I got myself a library card. But I will still buy a book if I like the author. I figured if I can get one good idea from it, it’s worth it to me.
- Clothes — I have a ton of clothes and I’ve donated even more in my lifetime. This is my one spend I’d like to kick to the curb, mainly because I wear the same outfits week after week. But there’s just something nice about putting on a new shirt that always gets me.
Maybe you have the same list but you probably have other things you like to spend on — dinners out, new cars, shoes.
The stuff we spend on will have a very different value to us than it does to others:
- New clothes can boost your confidence and you stand up a little taller when you wear that shirt you love.
- Travelling will give you new experiences and exposure to the lives of other cultures.
- Dining out, whether it’s fine dining or McDonalds, means spending time with your friends/family or because it saves you the time from having to cook yourself so you can focus on more pressing things in your life.
- Maybe you spend on nice hotels or first class tickets because you want to be well rested on or after a 10 hour flight.
I’m not here to say what you should and shouldn’t spend your money on but whatever your stuff is, know the value it holds for you, not the value it holds for someone else or because that’s what you’ve been told to strive for.
Because at the end of day, whether it’s Christmas or not, that’s why stuff matters.
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