I have been doing a lot of pondering lately. Just thinking about “stuff” and trying to digest it into some simple everyday living principles. Last week, it seems my mind kept going back to the word purpose. I started looking at things and a few individuals and I started asking the question, “What purpose do they serve?” This question really could be applied to almost anything and, of course, the answer will be based on the extent of one’s knowledge surrounding the thing or it may even change over time based on wants vs. needs or values.
I’ve decided that asking what purpose something serves is a great way of approaching minimization. It all gets back to the conflict between wants and needs. If one’s focus is on needs then asking about purpose is meaningful. But if you’re consumed by wants, then purpose really doesn’t have much bearing. Take for example things you might collect. Collecting multiples of the same kind of thing is a want. But having just one of the same type of an item or maybe one and a back-up is more likely satisfying a need.
As I get older, my focus is turning to needs over wants and asking something’s purpose further clarifies if I really need that thing in my life. Advertising is all about trying to convince a person that a want is a need. It’s what fuels the economy. Do you need a new car or do you just want a newer one? Does your TV work fine but that sale price and larger size make me want a new one
A part of being able to be comfortable on a fixed income is making this mental transformation. If we don’t, then we would soon run out of money and our homes would be full of even more junk. I believe I have done a pretty good job of stopping the inflow of junk and ending non beneficial relationships. Now all I have to do is continue to apply the question of purpose to the stuff I have already accumulated.