Valuable Teachings

The desk is cluttered and every cabinet is full.  When the closet is opened an avalanche occurs as everything that was in the closet falls on your head. This is my house and I know for sure that it is just like many other houses in the U.S. Many Americans have so many belongings that they have to rent storage space to keep all their things. But do we really need all this stuff? Is our junk valuable to us?

Our class has been looking at pictures of different families’ belongings.  Different families from around the world emptied their homes into their front yards to show how much stuff they had stuffed in their houses. Some had their yards crammed with stuff while others had only a few pieces of furniture. As we looked at the pictures our class debated on what having tons or only a few belongings said about the family. I concluded that you cannot tell very much about the family from how many items they had. It was what the family showed that they valued by holding items in front of them that told the real story. Some of the working families valued things that helped to provide for them like their livestock or their way of transportation. Other families valued their interests like their musical instruments or bible.  But no matter how many belongings they had, none of the families we observed seemed to treasure their most expensive items over their smaller and more sentimental things.

“Money can’t buy happiness.” We have all heard this saying and it rang true when observing the pictures.  The family in the U.S. had tons of stuff filling their yard but they seemed no happier then the family in Thailand who owned only a couple pieces of furniture. The amount of money people had didn’t really affect the joy the family. What mattered most to the families were the things that were most important to them.  Whether they loved their horse, their cello, or their motorcycle, it wasn’t the price tag that made it valuable to them.

While looking at the pictures I realized that the clutter in my room wasn’t important to me. I think that if I got rid of the random stuff in my room, I would be just as happy or maybe even happier.  I value a framed photo of my family more then I value the forty dollar sweater crumpled on my bedroom floor. So, through this process, I have learned that the things that make people happy aren’t the things that fill their houses until nothing more can fit.

Looking at the Material World pictures taught me that stuff doesn’t bring joy.  The items a family has isn’t what makes them who they are. Valuable things aren’t always fancy or expensive. If everybody looked at the things they really valued, then everybody would have far less stuff and feel just as happy.