A number of years ago, my family and I were visiting relatives across the country and happened to be there for a cousin’s birthday. His grandfather came into the house after a long security shift, saw his grandson and his face lit up. He went over to him and shook his hand. My cousin was surrounded by other kids his age and was coming to the stage where he was very self-conscious of how “cool” his exchanges were with others. The grandpa was speaking in Punjabi while the boy was speaking back in English.
The grandfather said, “Yaar (buddy), I bought a new hat for you!” A simple thanks would have made his grandfather happy but, of course, not just any hat would do for a boy with a reputation to build. He asked, “Oh, yeah? What brand?” With an incredulous look on his face, the grandfather replied, in English, “Yaar, brand new!”
Brand names. Style over substance. Pop culture. If we start letting these things define us, we become slaves. Having the latest and greatest for the sake of having the latest and greatest can burn through money that could be better spent elsewhere really fast. When I simplified my clothing 1.5 years ago, I became free in a way. I never think about what I’m going to wear for longer than 3 seconds or at all about what others will think when they see it. My shopping has been decreased to once per year and just to replace the items that have worn out.
The money and energy that goes into impressing others with material goods can be so much better spent. Let’s take some time to look at our possessions and gauge if they really enrich our lives, or just add to the ongoing maintenance of possessions to which we subject ourselves.