Your Life is Too Valuable to Waste Chasing Possessions

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” ― Mae West

There is more joy in pursuing less than can be found in pursuing more. In many ways, this is a message that we already know to be true.

It’s just that, since the day we were born, we have been told something different. We have been told that possessions equal joy. And because we have heard that message so many times and from so many angles, we have begun to believe it. As a result, we spend our lives working long hours to make good money so that we can buy nice stuff.

But when we again hear the simple message that there is more joy in pursuing less than can be found in pursuing more, it rings true in our hearts… because deep down, we already know it to be true. We know that possessions don’t equal joy. And we know that our life is far too valuable to waste chasing them.

It just helps to be reminded from time to time. So today, remember…

Our life is short. We only get one shot at it. The time goes by quick. And once we use it up, we can’t get it back. So make the most of it. Possessions steal our time and energy. They require unending maintenance to be cleaned, maintained, fixed, replaced, and removed. They steal our precious attention, time, and energy and we don’t even notice it… until it’s too late.

Our life is unique. Our look, our personality, our talents, and the people who have influenced our lives have made us special. As a result, our life is exactly like no one else. And just because everyone else is chasing material possessions doesn’t mean we have to too.

Our life is significant. Far more than success, our hearts desire significance because significance lasts forever. On the other hand, possessions are temporal. They perish, spoil, and fade. And most of them, by design.

Our life is designed to inspire. Let’s make footprints worth following. Nobody ever changed the world by following someone else. Instead, people who change the world live differently and inspire others to do the same. Possessions may briefly impress, but they never inspire.

Our life is important. Our heart and soul makes us valuable. Don’t sacrifice your important role in this world by settling for possessions that can be purchased with a card of plastic.

Our life deserves better. Joy, happiness, and fulfillment are found in the invisible things of life: love, hope, peace, and relationships. And they are not on sale at your local department store. Stop looking for them there. People who live their lives in pursuit of possessions are never content. They always desire newer, faster, or bigger because material possessions can never satisfy our deepest heart desires.

Be reminded that your life is far too valuable to waste chasing material possessions. And find more joy today by choosing to pursue “better,” rather than “more.”

Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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  1. says

    I really needed to hear this today. I read a lot about being productive, doing amazing things, and making something of yourself.

    Sometimes its good to be reminded that we are already special and unique and significant. And that’s the beauty of life – its not so much what we accomplish as what we make of it.

    btw, way to bring Oprah into the conversation! haha.

    • says

      I liked the Oprah quote. It communicates the significance of searching your heart to find what is most important so that we can get it right the first time.

      But you are right, it was definitely fun to use a quote from her since her name is a punch-line in all my presentations on discovering simplicity.

  2. says

    Hi Joshua…

    I would say it slightly different — “Your Life is Too Valuable to Become Slave of Possessions”

    Anyone who says that possession gives happiness and joy, just repeat what he learned on television or other media. Life is a miracle and joke, at the same time. It’s definitely more important to have love, hope, peace, and relationships, as you said, than to chase illusion in the form of piece of plastic card or something else…

    In my life there were moments when I did not have a dime, and yet I was satisfied and happy. Quality of my life was great despite the lack of possession. So, I’m quite sure that simple lifestyle is best for building a quality life….

  3. says

    Speaking for myself only, minimalism is new for me. It has been a long road travelled to get to this point. I realized chasing after material possessions to identify who I am has only lead me to more debt. I’m happy now living within my means and respecting money. It is a work in progress to be a mindful minimalist. To be honest, I choose this route because of necessity. I always wondered if I somehow inherit or won a very large (infinite) sums of money, how would my philosophy change about material possessions? Or my views of money? Would I be back to my old ways? I will probably will never know, but it’s something to ponder! Thank you for your inspiring words.

  4. says

    Jesus agrees, as he talks about the fact that most of the world knocks themselves out in the endless pursuit of more, and then worries about protecting what they’ve gained. He invites a paradigm shift: from greed to generosity, from abusing creation to enjoying it, from fear to bold hope. The thing that keeps most of us from going there is our belief of the lie that the next possession will fill the gaping hole in our hearts. To hell with that lie! Instead, I’m learning to embrace the truth that contentment is found in relationships, and the simple joys of creation. How liberating is that!

  5. says

    This is so insightful. When I describe myself as a minimalist, I people often think that only means I have few possessions. This explains the “something else” that minimalism is….the desire for a calm, centered spirit with focus on the right things in life.

    • Cindy H says

      The “something else” you described is right on point. Beautiful way to put it. I’ve never really been able to describe it so others “get it”.

  6. Molly says

    Hi Joshua ~ my husband and I drove an hour to Peoria on Sunday and really enjoyed what you shared. Since our own church commitments called us away a little early we missed the chance to say hi. It was great hearing more of your story…it gave me the encouragement and motivation I needed to continue on this simplifying journey. It’s kind of a lonely road out here in the Phoenix suburbs. Thanks for coming to Arizona!!!

  7. says

    Just lovely. My fiance and I come from typically materialistic families and we’ve made the choice to make our little family minimalist and your blog really keeps us inspired. Thank you!

  8. says

    Count me in! I’ve just spent the day cleaning, and getting rid of STUFF in the basement. It feels so good to have (at least sort of) an organized home.
    (now, I’m tired, and could use a good nap!)

    • says

      Remember that it took years to collect all that “stuff” in your basement and home. I say, “Take a good nap. You deserve it.” Your progress today will likely motivate you to tackle another project tomorrow.

  9. says

    I have just started reading your blog int he last month and today’s post is the best one so far and really touches my heart and soul.
    I am a shopaholic, in the true, real sense…and I wish every day that I could conquer that and change it.
    I’ll just keep reading and keep trying. So far I’ve only gotten so far as “thinking” about changing.

  10. says

    I love quotes. Here is one of my current favorite:

    Joy, happiness, and fulfillment are found in the invisible things of life: love, hope, peace, and relationships. – Joshua Becker

  11. says

    Your article goes right to the heart, which is a THE place often left out of the process of letting go of so-called wants for a much more meaningful life (versus “existence”). Thanks for keeping it real…because that’s what endures when everything else gets swept away.

  12. the minimalist woman says

    Well said. Your posts always remind me that I’m going down the right path on becoming a minimalist. Further de-cluttered my closet today….the feeling it gave me was priceless.

  13. Jenny says

    just in response to this idea: Possessions may briefly impress, but they never inspire.

    I don’t completely agree with the last sentence, because “just the right possession” can actually inspire, I think the point however is the word “possession” in the overall sense. Only take what you need form this world and nothing more. *Goes to clean out another corner of the house*.
    I am striving to simplify, but as I am a creative peson, sometimes a possession as simple as a rock or something handmade, inspires me…so I do tend to keep those types of things….because these possesions actually do inspire me or they remind me of an inspiring moment created by someone or something else. So sometimes, a possession, to me, is inspiring. I promise though, to return the rock when I am done.
    In my world…no idea is completely new, so my footprints carry a bit of anothers footprints. and hopefully they are all inspiring.

      • Steve says

        Hey lets stop knocking possessions. My surf ski is beautiful. Hand made by a perfectionist and inspiring to ride in the early morning surf accompanied by dolphins and sea birds (and occasionally largish sharks). My camera is a technological wonder and unimaginably advanced compared with my 20 year old film camera. I have been inspired to capture so many more “moments” that have helped cement memories for me and my family. As we become more technological savvy we might even be inspired to create ways to “consume” well and to live within our planet’s means.

        • Paul says

          Of course..

          All extremes are wrong.

          What is important is to genuinely be able to discern what you are ACTUALLY using and enjoying.

          I don’t like labels, but I would be described as a minimalist.
          If I am not using it and not enjoying it, get rid of it!

          One should appreciate everything but one should not try or feel the need to own everything.

          Coming from the field of fine art&antiques, I know the “collector” mind well.
          I also note those who collect fountain pens, watches, etc etc..

          They often call it “passion”, but it is obsession.
          Many I believe find it as a source of strength.

  14. Jenny says

    oh..I hate typos..”I am striving to simplify, but as I am a creative person”, (not peson) which if it were an actual English word, I might actually be one. Also, let me say, because I neglected to above, this was a beautiful, inspiring read.

  15. says

    Amen. I try to “preach” beyond the typical finance blog approach that equates net worth with personal value or stuff with happiness. I couldn’t agree more!

    Keep up the great blogging!
    Sustainable Family Finances

  16. Lisa says

    I, too really needed this message today. I particularly loved the reminder that “our heart and soul make us valuable.” Such a countercultural message when it should be a primary message. Thanks for reminding us!


  17. says

    It’s like the Fight Club quote, “Eventually your possessions start owning you.”

    The more you have, the more you have to lose, the more you have to worry about, the more stressed you become.

    It’s okay to have a lot of material luxuries, but don’t let them define who you are and always come from a place of abundance no matter how much or how little you have. Great, great advice Joshua!

  18. says

    I agree 100%. Life is too short to worry about possessions. After you go through the process of carrying everything you need on your back for any extended period of time, it makes you look at the things you own in a completely different way! You really don’t need all that much and if you spent that money on experiences rather than items, you’d live a richer life because of it. He who dies with the most toys, still dies.

  19. says

    Great post Joshua. I’ve started writing on my blog about my transition to living life now. I was once chasing after outcomes oppose to enjoying the process. Ever since I’ve made the switch I feel much lighter and happier. Not attaching our happiness to possessions gives us the ability to see more into our core and allows us to truly be who we’re meant to be.

  20. says

    I know this is years later.
    The first point – our life is short – resonates deeply with me. I’ve walked through cancer with my husband and Celiac Disease with my toddler. Each time, I’m given that intense glimpse into the brevity of life – and a renewed desire to live life awake, intentional, and with joy.
    Thank you for sharing your heart.

  21. sharle kinnear says

    Today I had the interesting experience of walking into a nearby thrift shop and seeing quite a few of my old possessions lining the shelves. Seeing them sitting there with price tags on them, looking like just more pieces of useless stuff, was eye opening! Taken out of the context of my own home, the “stuff” looked boring and unnecessary. If I had the money, would I buy them today? The answer is a resounding “NO!” I am done with buying even inexpensive things just because they momentarily catch my eye! My life IS worth more, and seeing my old things in that store really brought that home to me . . . Great post, as usual, Joshua . . . and, by the way, I was only in the store to drop off yet another sack of unwanted lovelies . . .

    • Keyholekate says

      This was my experience on Wednesday – seeing ornaments that once belonged to my Mum and Nan. Felt odd seeing them there but had no regrets.

  22. Neednotwant says

    I recently moved and had to clean out my house after 30+ years. When I put all the clothes from all the closets in one place, I was mortified to visually see that most of them were never worn. This also happened with my crafts, my “on sale” stuff that I was going to do something with. It was enough of an eye opener to make the change. I tagged saled and then gave away most of it to the Veterans. I no longer shop for things I don’t need. I think twice before I do the “need vs. want.” Most of the time, it is neither. Even selling our new home that we built for retirement. It is too big for 2 people–building a much smaller home with a scenic lake view!

  23. Sincitylin says

    just saw this on a friends FB post….know it’s 3 years later….but I have lived almost 2 years total in Afghanistan in a small room that is the size of a closet for some. I have learned to live without my stuff in the states. I have learned that those things are not as important as I once thought. My living arrangements may be a lot more extreme being overseas on a base, but I really learned more about myself and what I actually need to live my life. I’m sure when I return, I’ll be making significant changes.

  24. Cherie Fletcher says

    Hi there,
    My daughter Rebecca from Clear Space Organising Services tagged me In your most recent post. It came at a great time as Rebecca has set up a 70-Day De-Cluttering Christmas Challenge. We are in our 4th day now and the enthusiasm between the 250 odd members in the group is amazing! I hope they all get to read this as it is so applicable to everyone isn’t it?

  25. Mary says

    so true because as Jesus said…”Beware! Keep yourselves from covetousness, for a man’s life doesn’t consist of the abundance of the things which he possesses.”….The parable of the Rich FOOL, Luke 12:15 onwards

  26. says

    As I continue to read the different post, I understand, that life is too short to caught in the idea that I have to have so many things. I do have problems when I’m around others from time to time! I am going to try to change!
    Thank you

  27. says

    Thanks for the article. After travellling the world for two years with my wife realising you can live so richly and deeply with so little we have settled into a minimalistic lifestyle and could not be happier. I’m really glad she introduced me to this fantastic blog.

  28. Dawna says

    My favorite quote I learned from the dust bowl generation~
    “Use it up. Wear it out. Make it do, or, do without!”

    So many people seem so wasteful. You know, throwing away that shirt worn once. Along with the excess possesions I can not understand why people must be so wasteful.

    I apologize if this is off topic but along with wanting more, more, more, people seem to not really respect what they have.

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