We Should Love Things

Image: Lachlan Donald
Image: Lachlan Donald

“Love people, use things.” That’s the gist an article Arthur Brooks wrote this past summer. Mostly, I’m with him. Those who define their lives by their possessions are spiritually bankrupt. What’s even less fortunate, is that many of these same people are dissatisfied with their lives.

So, I’m in no way refuting Brooks’ argument. I agree that many would benefit from focusing on the people in their lives, instead of the things they own/want. However, I wonder if we miss something when we treat this as an either/or situation. Our relationships with things are complex, and we shouldn’t view things in just one way.

Think back to the first thing you adored as a child. It brought pleasure. You took care of it. Were you to have lost it, you would have been saddened. Now, look around your home. How many things do you feel that strongly about? My bet is that you can’t list more than a handful.

OK—I get that you’re not going to love a mug, spatula, or vacuum. You just need these things, right? But, let’s pretend you did love them.

Imagine your vacuum breaking tomorrow, and the repair-person saying it’s not practical to fix. And, what if, you didn’t rush to the store and buy the one that was on sale? This time, you tell yourself that you’re going to do it right.

You look over your space, and consider your vacuuming needs. You consider where you might next live, and ask yourself whether you could get by without this thing.

Upon determining it a necessity, you conduct research, read reviews, and buy the item that’s right for you. In doing so, you forego special offers and sales. Instead, you pay more for a vacuum that’s proven to last—and is nicer to use.

As a result of having spent more, you take better care of this new thing. You read the manual, follow the maintenance instructions, and pack it away carefully. You see this thing not as a stop-gap solution you’ll soon replace, but as a purchase you don’t intend to repeat.

This sort of an approach comes with benefits to you, the companies you buy from, and even the planet.

Objects that work make chores less tedious; plus, well-constructed things need fewer repairs. Paying for quality creates market demand for better things. This allows manufacturers to prioritize performance over price and gimmicks. Ultimately, this means less waste left in landfills.

Truth be told, I don’t love my vacuum. (I did buy a well built/designed one.) That said, I do like it. Meanwhile, I sort of do love my laptop, my blender, and my hydration vest. In each of these instances, I’ve spent more than I needed to. I did so because I like owning dependable things, and I want to purchases as infrequently as I can.

Amassing stuff is easy. You see this inside of Walmart, where zombies’ carts overflow with “good deals.” Thinking, researching, and selecting one’s possessions? That takes work. Done properly, though, these things can bring you delight.


  1. This is the sort of thing I write about at my blog on a regular basis. It is amazing to me at times how there is always another angle to come from when writing about a subject like this. I love it.
    I don’t love my vacuum cleaner either~ it has some annoying design faults ~ but I wouldn’t part with it unless it became beyond repair.And it is amazing how those design faults affect the attitude with which I approach the task of vacuuming. That is with slight irritation that the company the produces it, who professes to be the gurus of vacuum cleaner design, can include such glowing faults in there supposedly perfect machine.
    Loving the things you work with sure makes the task more pleasurable than it might otherwise be. There are plenty of other items in my home that I love too. Several pairs of shoes that I searched high and low for just exactly what needed, paid through the teeth for but have been worth every penny (nailed it). A light weight travel jacket the has done a lot of travelling with me. My dining suite that fulfils our needs beautifully. Microfibre clothes… and the list could go on. However it is getting harder to achieve the goal of making the perfect purchase because it has become the habit of many companies to build obsolescence into their products to guarantee continued sales. Nevertheless I will continue to be patient with my purchases of everything I think I need and do my best to achieve the loving relationship with the things I acquire.

  2. Hydration vest? Wow, some things are just awesome, I had to google it! Love progress!
    In any case, things are spiritual in nature…just like people and everything else. The issue is when going to extreme…just like with anything else. This deprecation of matter in service of more ‘spiritual’ values is a misguided concept I feel, and with balance and a tad of awareness we can freely enjoy it all.

Add a Comment