Intuitively, we know that the best stuff in life isn’t stuff at all, and that relationships, experiences and meaningful work are the staples of a happy life.
I like material things as much as anyone. I studied product design in school. I’m into gadgets, clothing and all kinds of things. But my experiences show that after a certain point, material objects have a tendency to crowd out the emotional needs they are meant to support.
I wouldn’t trade a second spent wandering the streets of Bangkok with Olga for anything I’ve owned. Often, material objects take up mental as well as physical space.
I remember talking to a guy about being downwardly mobile, as opposed to upwardly mobile, and his central point — which I didn’t understand then — was that it’s better to own less and live a more agile, flexible life than to let your stuff become an anchor.
It was really just a clever way of saying you should strive to live below your means because it affords you the opportunity to have more experiences or buy better stuff instead of more stuff, etc. A good ethos to live by.