It all started with my two-ish-year-old earphones.
I found them a dollar store on a business trip to make some video calls. The sound was so-so, but I was in a hurry and they did the job.
"$1 earphones? Really?" a friend chimed in when I got home. "Does it even have a microphone?"
"No, but it's fine," I answered while putting an earbud on.
My friend raised her eyebrow.
"They're blue." I added. "My favorite color!"
She rolled her eyes.
I mention my earphones as an example of how what we really need is almost always simpler than what we'd like to have.
Did I need earphones?
Did the sound have to be awesome?
Did I need a microphone?
Since I wasn't using them for anything else, the features those earphones did have were enough for me.
Non-Negotiable VS. Nice-To-Have
When it comes to stuff, some things are non-negotiable.
A shirt is supposed to fit so you can wear it. A pair of shoes should protect your feet when you walk in them. And so on.
But so many many other things are nice-to-haves.
You know what I mean: This Brand, That Feature, This Design, That Material.
And if spending on a nice-to-have makes us happy, why not?
I'm definitely not against extras that add something special to what we use. These features can be worth the extra we shelled out to get them, amIright?
But we want, my friends. We want a lot.
Take my earphones: a microphone, noise-cancelling buds, a known brand, sleek design, and more crazy awesome features are all nice-to-haves.
I knew I didn't actually need them though, so I didn't have to pay for all those extras. I could have, if I was willing to part with the money. (Plus the time and effort finding out which earphones were better, what store or website had them in stock, and so on...)
I could have, but I decided not to.
Instead, I chose these earphones, appreciating they did a good enough job and earmarking my money for other things I needed more.
When we make a conscious choice about what we really need (and even what we just want and are willing to pay for), the things we get really bring joy to our lives.
We don't end up with things that complicate our lives --- like overspending and eventually debt, in this case.
We also learn to be thankful for the things we do have in our lives.
So back to those earphones: they died on me on a bus to Toronto last month.
If I'm honest, they had been showing their wear a few months before. The sound got tinny, and the blue color I adored was fading. I'd also begun listening to podcasts and music on plane rides, and the earbuds hurt after wearing them for hours.
I found myself needing more out of my earphones as how I used them in my life changed.
When they gave up the ghost, I was thankful for them. I might need better earphones this time around, but these lasted more than two years doing exactly what I needed them to do, and they'd cost a song.
With Thanksgiving round the corner, look at the things around you and ask yourself:
What do you already have that fills a need in your life today? Even if it may not necessarily be everything you'd like to have?
You'll often find you're fine without most of your wants after all.
And that's the best thing ever.
Want to follow along as I fill my life with only my non-negotiables?
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