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#024: Why the true cost of a material possession is higher than you think

"The cost of a thing is the amount of life which is to be exchanged for it." - Henry David Thoreau

David Luescher
1 min read

An idea for you to consider

Do you know what the true cost of a material possession is?

I’ll break it down for you:

  1. Acquisition cost: the money needed to buy the item (e.g. CHF 5’000 for a used car)
  2. Operating costs: the money needed to use the item (e.g. CHF 200/month for fuel, taxes, etc.)

So far so good.

But looking at the cost of a possession through this lens is only half of the equation.

If we’re interested in the true cost of a possession, we also have to account for the amount of time this material possession claims from our life.

Owning a car, for instance, implies that you will need to service the car in a regular interval.

This is not meant as a critique of consumerism.

My point simply is that too many material possessions complicate our lives to a greater degree than we ever give them credit for.

They can not only drain our bank account, but also our energy, and our attention.

Low energy and attention is an obstacle to living a fulfilled life based on our values.

As Henry David Thoreau, a 19th century American writer and philosopher, put it elegantly:

“The cost of a thing is the amount of life which is to be exchanged for it.”

Every minute of your life is precious and once it’s gone you can never get it back.

Choose wisely what you exchange your life for.


A question for you to ponder

What hopes or longings do I have for the coming year?

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