Having vs. Being

We can do lots of things and also have plenty as well. Still we are often confused with our motives and purposes for the actions we do. Why am I having all these things around me? Are they boosting my ego, reducing insecurity, or even defining in a subtle way how I see and regard myself?

First of all, any action, item, or thing can be necessary or entirely useless. The real purpose and meaning is subjective and cannot be seen from the outset by any third party. Price, quality, or the amount of items is not relevant. The only thing that matters is your own point of view. Are you attached to your surroundings? Do they define who you are?

When you have a need for something you are not free. If you long for more things, shopping experiences, or just for the thrill of having always beautiful and new things to play around with all those are keeping you clung in the loop—you simply need more, and ever more. It might be exciting to travel a lot or switch a job once a year, but have you questioned why are you doing it? Are you sure that underneath there isn’t a pattern that you’re repeating? It might also be a fear. You need to feel important, useful, respected, admired, or busy. The common nominator is that you think that there is a need to window dress for something or someone. Funnily enough you might in reality only just try to fool yourself—no one else thinks anything of you nor is following your traces of thought. We all live in our subjective realities.

When you need to have in order to be it is time to reconsider your expectations and reasoning. How come you cannot be right now but only in the future after a certain activity or process? Owning something does not define who you are. They are simply the things that you happen to possess or have achieved like a title or education. Certainly you can communicate and express yourself with the things you have. But as long as you are not dependent on them you can enjoy them fully without being obsessed by their presence. A Ferrari does not need the driver—it tells its own story by its existence. However, many drivers use the car as a way to define who they are: I have this so I am like that—in their own mind. We buy peace of mind, for a very short time. Often the illusion disappears in a matter of minutes or days after we have gained something we have desired for. Then it is time to repeat the process and desire something else. We live by having. Still you can only live by being, but only after you have learned how to value your existence without any strings attached. Richness is about being, no matter what you have or do not have.

5 Comments

  • Reply Tara Shrader October 23, 2010 at 5:29

    I love this article! I want people everywhere, young and old, to understand this! I want to shout it from the roof tops! We need to embrace this way of thinking to change the world.

  • Reply kate December 15, 2010 at 5:58

    How can this only have one comment! It’s an amazing article. It’s so true. I feel pathetic sitting at a computer agonizing about a peace studies assignment when there are so many people struggling to survive. Well done!

  • Reply Dot September 18, 2014 at 6:53

    Wow! Most profound. Everything I needed in this moment. Thank you!

  • Reply Ray Langston September 29, 2014 at 2:04

    Social Psychologist Erich Fromm forcasted a society that human beings had two orientations. The “having” and the “being”. The ‘having’ orientation seeks to acquire things, property and sometimes even people. The ‘being’ person focuses on the experience, they derive meaning from exchanging, engaging and sharing with other people. Unfortunately, a culture driven by commercialism like the one we live in today, it’s doomed to the ‘having’ orientation which leads to dissatisfaction and emptiness. In the 1960s there were one or two self-storage centers within a city. Now…literally hundreds of them.

  • Reply Mahlatsi June 5, 2016 at 12:35

    Oh this is so pure and to the point. Well said, i need to change my behavior certainly…

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