Admire Versus Own

There is a plethora of beautiful things in this world. You don’t need to own them, but admiring is (typically) free. 

I once took an interior design course and someone asked the instructor how he dealt with seeing all of these beautiful fixtures, finishes, and furniture while not wanting to buy it all. He explained that he would fall in love with those things while working on a project with a client. He’d appreciate and admire them. He would get something out of them- a certain joy and recognition of their design. Then, he was ready to let them go. He found a perspective that was of bounty, not wanting. 

I took that course ten years ago but still think of what he said. At the crux, he was avoiding the common response to seeing something we like and immediately wanting to have it, to own it. He was able to experience the energy that beautiful things bring to us, without the negative pull of “I want!” I believe we can hold greater appreciation of something if we don’t disrupt the moment by asking for more.

Many of my clients, and people I know generally, tend to collect cool and beautiful things: jewelry, art, crafts, the latest technology, collectibles of any sort. Or update their home with the latest find at Crate and Barrel. I’ve noticed they will often say, “Look at this thing I have. Isn’t it great?” What I find most telling about this is the need to both show me and receive some sort of confirmation that what they have is important. Going deeper, perhaps what we have becomes even more valuable if others see and acknowledge its importance. We don’t only accumulate stuff because we like it or need it, or feel the need to own versus admire. We see it as a means to identify ourselves. And we do this, at least in part, to create an image for others to view. 

I encourage you to watch yourself and see whether this is something that you do. Are there items in your home that you think make you appear interesting or unique in some way? Is it on clear display for guests to see? Do you tend to point them out? Keeping items with aesthetic value and reinforcing your ownership of them through external confirmation is not the most prudent way to determine what to keep and what to remove from your home. It will not help you simplify your life.

Consider that it can be deeply satisfying to admire things you will never own and resist turning your home into a sort of museum or means of self-worth. Then, you can admire the world without owning it. In letting go, you can have it all.