“The End” Momentarily Rescinded…Do I Need This Thing?

Okay, every once in a while I read something which turns out to be something I have heard or read before. However, there are times when I run across the same material and an “Ah-Ha!” moment occurs. This is one of them.

Giving credit where credit is due, I read a daily devotional this morning (The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman). I was in the process of “catching up” with my readings. In an attempt to sync up to today’s date (March 1) I had to read the message for February 29 (yes, it is a leap year!). And lo and behold, I read three questions written for the Leap Day and lept to my own interpretation!

Simple questions, really.

    1. Do I need this thing?
    2. What will happen if I do not get it?
    3. Can I make do without it?
Image by Shahid Abdullah from pixabay.com

Taken literally, the authors intended this to be about “stuff” … the new techie gadget, the new car, the next book, the new tool, the new project/task, the new book, the new self-help/improvement activity … the “stuff” that fills our nooks and crannies.

And reading it that way, it can provide a sanity check (and financial fence) on purchasing the “next great thing.” I mean, do I really need that special tool to do that project? What would happen if I don’t get it? Can I make do without it? And my honest answers, in order, would be: No I don’t really, though it might make it easier; might make the work a little harder but it’s usually doable; and definitely (where there’s a will there’s a way….just have to find Will).

Sometimes the purchases are made to make a job easier. Sometimes they are bought due to external influences (commercials, friends, DIY project task sheets). Sometimes they become obsessions (gotta have it, gotta have IT, gotta HAVE IT, GOTTA HAVE IT!). Sometimes it’s just because it’s the next new thing.

Internally, these answers look like: “I can complete the project,” “My friends have it so I should have it,” “If I only had it, I could do so much more,” and “Man, that is so cool I gotta have it as part of my never-ending collection of gotta-have-its.” All of these become somewhat delusional, self-validating, submitting to peer pressure, and self-worth generating.

So what about the Ah-Ha Moment?

I realized those three simple questions can also apply to the intangibles of life. You know – my thoughts, dreams, perceptions, stereotyping, beliefs, way(s) of living life…Do I need this? What will happen if I don’t get/believe/think it? Can I make do without it?

And the sobering question is the last one. So much of my life is spent in seeking approval, placing people into self-generated categories, accepting a belief not of my own, choosing a life, attitude or lifestyle that is not conducive to further growth, or seeing the world through a lifetime of experiences and thoughts that have colored everything with my own set of biases and perceptions.

Can I make do without those? Yes, and in a lot of cases life would end up being so much more rich than the narrow confines I have created by “needing” and creating the boundaries of “stuff” – both physical and mental.

So, three simple questions about the stuff we surround ourselves with can be used to do some very hard internal reflection. And perhaps the next time I begin to react to something, I can take a moment to reflect on where that reaction is coming from and ask:

    • Do I need this thing?
    • What would happen if I don’t get it?
    • Can I make do without it?
Image by John Hain from Pixabay