How Can You Change Your Life By Changing Your Possessions

There are couple of things to have in mind if you are really trying to make a significant lifestyle change. The people you surround yourself with, the slight change in interests, what type of things you are letting enter your life…

change your life by changing your possessions

And while on a wider scope things like habits, diet, places you hang around and people you interact with are undeniably crucial to this “remodeling” process, believe it or not, possessions come second close.

What all of the above excluding possessions would elicit is a radical change in attitude. And that’s a given. Changing what you pay attention to, be that people that approach you or conversations you are having, slowly starts to percolate your interests, dictating what you find to be amusing or less thereof.

The change that is lacking

But here lies the twist – while we are concerned with battling habits and going out of our way to forge new ones, the fact remains that our lives lack the additional change factor.

Bear with me for a moment, and forget all about the traditional ways in which you will try to remodel your lifestyle.

You see, following the notion that we are living in an excessively materialistic world, when it comes to deciding the quality of our lives paying homage to possessions comes as a no surprise. Hence the tight connection between the lifestyle we are living and the things we chose to fill our homes with.

Adding an additional layer – experiences

Why are experiences more satisfying? For one thing, it’s harder to compare them to others’ experiences; they belong to us alone.

That, and the fact that they trigger myriad of emotions makes them a rare commodity when it comes to changing your current mindset. Fast forward to a next chapter of your life and you realize, without question, that you are the sum of your experiences.

I wrote about the issue of possessions versus experiences in an article of mine some time ago. Since then I’ve found other resources supporting my claim that experiences alone lead towards more interesting lifestyle and more fulfilled life in general.

A recent Cornell study backs up this notion.

“Your experiences are inherently less comparative, they’re less subject to and less undermined by invidious social comparisons,” said professor of psychology Thomas Gilovich, who published the study with Travis J. Carter, Ph.D. ’10, in a recent issue of Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Looking upon possessions from a somewhat different angle

Dr Helga Dittmar, senior lecturer in psychology at the University of Sussex, suggests that there is a strong link between material possessions and our identity.

However, albeit agreeing upon the fact that they are inherently linked, she gives a more logical and somewhat quite more realistic explanation- you can, on the one hand, slightly change your identity depending upon the things you chose to surround yourself with, while apply the vice versa scenario and buy possessions depending upon who you are on the other.

Meaning – the link is here without doubt, but which comes first can often times be vague at best.

This suggests that possessions alone can help us dramatically influence who we are and what we chose to develop into.

What kind of possessions to aim for when trying to change yourself?

This here is the core of this article- so far I’ve only added one proof after another that possessions can, in one way or another, influence our world view. The things I laid down here suggest that albeit having this ability they are restricted when compared to experiences. But that’s not the case…

You see, if possessions can influence our identity, and experiences can too, then why not aim for a link between the two and shop for things that will allow us, or better said force us to remodel ourselves?

Buy with the intent to experience – that’s the formula.

  • You buy books, you are likely to start reading more;
  • You buy skates, there is a big chance you will go skating;
  • You buy a mountain bike, it is likely that you will be out more and more during weekends.

I remember buying a snorkeling gear on Hawaii (something I used only once), and the fact that it allowed me to have (in a way persuaded me to have) this amazing experience of looking for sea turtles on Lanikai and Kailua, two paradise-like beaches on Oahu.

Taking this logic on a wider scale, I see the link even between things like deciding to buy my mountain bike and all of the great experiences I had with it as well as people I came to meet because of this decision I made years back.

That’s the angle from which I suggest to look upon material possessions- think with the vertical of what is likely to experience with your new possession. Or how will it influence your lifestyle. (Think fitness gear, books, cooking equipment…)

Everything you buy leads, in one way or another, to an experience of some kind. Evaluate the experience first, hypothetically of course, and then if you are at ease with how will that experience affect your lifestyle and life in general, decide to purchase.

Think about it – is there something you always wanted to experience that will dramatically influence your lifestyle, and that you can invite into your life by only changing your buying habits and preferences?

Image credit: By Manuel Acosta

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