Alexandru Huțu: Putting an End to Wanting Stuff

Ever since I was a little child, I always wanted stuff. Be that a new toy car, a fancy new hoodie, a new Bluetooth-enabled cameraphone or the latest and greatest Apple computer, I wanted it. I thought I needed it. I almost felt like my life depended on owning that item. That piece of processed metal, intricate circuitry, or molded plastic was the centre of my thoughts.

In my early teens, my room was filled with things I had acquired over the years. Toys, souvenirs, magazines, I kept everything. I even had a rock collection—a few dozen rocks picked up on the street and stashed into a shoebox. The 11-year-old me did not do that as a result of a complex thought process that made me realise those things brought something into my life (because, in fact, they didn’t). No. I did it because that is the norm in our society. People who own a lot of stuff are often looked up to, admired by their peers. Buying new things is what many people seem to live for, instead of looking for joy elsewhere.

I have reached a point at which, if someone asks me if I want them to get me something from wherever they are, I have the strength to simply refuse, telling them I have everything I need.

However, I’m not going to lie and say that I do not get satisfaction from purchasing stuff I’ve craved for for months. I simply choose to only crave for items that I have a well-defined use for, items that I know will improve my life. This stops me from being a hoarder, while at the same time fulfilling my shameful craving for buying something new. Maybe one day I will be able to free myself from this pseudo-need that unnecessarily burdens my life. On this note, I leave you with E.H. Gombrich’s interpretation of Buddha’s Enlightenment, from his book A Little History of the World:

If you are sad because you can’t have something you want – maybe a book or a toy – you can do one of two things: you can do your best to get it, or you can stop wanting it.